Post Mauryan Architecture : Gandhara, Mathura & Amaravathi schools

Post Mauryan Architecture; Sculpture making art reached its climax during this period.


  • Now 2 kinds of caves originated.
  • 1.Chaitya – (Prayer hall of monks) Ex:- Karla Chaitya in Maharastra.
  • 2.Vihara – (Residence or Rest place of monks) Ex:- Nachik Vihar & Ajanta Caves (29 caves; 25 viharas & 4 chaityas)


  • Now, more enlarged stupas were built.
  • A lower pradakshinapatha or circumbulatory path was added along with the upper one at Stupa.
  • All the 4 gateways were now carved with beautiful sculptures.
  • Symbols continued to be used representing the Buddha

Sculpture (100 CE)

  • In this age 3 schools were developed i.e Gandhara (now in Pakistan), Mathura in India & Amaravathi in Andhra Pradesh
  • Buddha in the symbolic form got a human form in Mathura and Gandhara.

Gandhara school of art (50 B.C. TO 500 A.D.)

  • Region extending from Punjab to the borders of Afghanistan was an important centre of Mahayana Buddhism up to the 5th century A.D.
  • Absorbed all kinds of foreign influences like Persian, Greek, Roman, Saka & Kushan.
  • Origin can be traced to the Greek rulers of Bactria & Northwest India.
  • During the reign of Kanishka that the art received great patronage.
  • Also known as the Graeco – Buddhist School of Art since Greek techniques of Art were applied to Buddhist subjects.
  • Most important contribution- evolution of beautiful images of the Buddha and Bodhisattavas, which were executed in black stone and modeled on identical characters of Greece-Roman pantheon.
  • “Gandhara artist had the hand of a Greek but the heart of an Indian.”
  • Most characteristic trait – depiction of Lord Buddha in the standing or seated positions.
  • Seated Buddha is always shown cross-legged in the traditional Indian way.
  • Typical feature – rich carving, elaborate ornamentation and complex symbolism.
  • Tallest rock cut statue of Lord Buddha – Bamiyan (Afghanistan) 3 – 4 century AD.

Making 4 types of hand gestures (mudras) & this is a remarkable feature in this art.

  1. Abhayamudra : Don’t fear
  2. Dhyanamudra : meditation
  3. Dharmachakramudra: a preaching mudra
  4. Bhumisparshamudra: Touching the earth

Gandhara_BuddhaGandharaDharmachakra Mudra


Mathura school of art ( 50 B.C. – 500 A.D.)

  • Holy city of Mathura between 1-3 A.D.
  • Established tradition of transforming Buddhist symbols into human form.
  • Buddha’s first image can be traced to Kanishka’s reign (about 78 A.D.).
  • Earliest sculptures of Buddha were made keeping the yaksha prototype in mind.
  • Strongly built – right hand raised in protection & left hand on the waist.
  • Figures do not have moustaches & beards as in the Gandhara Art.
  • Seated figures are in the padmasana posture.
  • Not only produced beautiful images of the Buddha but also of the Jain Tirthankaras & gods & goddesses of the Hindu pantheon.
  • Purely indigenous in nature, reaching its zenith under the Kushanas, mainly Kanishka
  • Guptas adopted, further improvised & perfected Mathura School of Art.
  • Observed at – Sarnath, Sravasti & even as far as Rajgir in Bihar.
  • Buddha shown seated in Padmasana, Right hand in AbhayMudra (Indicate reassurance) raised above shoulder, Left hand on left thigh (reflect muscularity), Protuberance on head.
  • Famous for headless statue of Kanishka
  • Material used was red sandstone mainly with a little use of terracotta.

GandharaHeadless Kaniska Jain sarvatobhadra

 Amravati school of art (200 B.C. – 200 A.D.)Buddha attended by 2 Bodhisattvas. Mathura, 2nd century CE
  • On the banks of the Krishna River in modern Andhra Pradesh.
  • Main patrons – Satavahanas & Ikshvakus.
  • White Marble (limestone) was used in this art
  • Site of largest Buddhist stupa of South India.
  • Theme: Buddha’s life & Jatakas tales.
  • Curly hairs of Buddha; A feature that is influenced by the Greeks.
  • Sculptural composition is more complex and characterized by intense emotions, bodies are shown with three bents (i.e. tribhanga). Its ruins are preserved in the London Museum.800px-BuddhistTriadAmaravati school

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