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Module11:ImperialIndia

FortheresearchpaperdedicatedtoImperialIndia,Ichosetoresearchandwriteonthe
topicofIndianandBuddhistart.AsBuddhismbegantotakeshapeundertheMauryanEmpirein
theIndianSubcontinent,differentarchitectureandartworkswerecreated.AsAshokafound
Buddhismandbegantopractice,theartandreligionofBuddhismbegantoflourishintheIndian
Subcontinent.WhileresearchingIndianandBuddhistart,Iselectedmultiplepiecesthatare
portrayedbelow.

BillBalent
AncientHistory
Module11:ImperialIndia
6/12/2016
ArtHistory:BuddhismandIndianArt
BuddhismandIndianartgohandinhandasBuddhismbegantothriveintheIndian
subcontinentduringthereignofEmperorAshokawhoruledovertheregionfrom273232BC.
EmperorAshokawasamemberoftheMauryadynastythatwassuccessfulinunifyingaland
thatwasneverunifiedandhassincebeenunderstruggletounifysince.Duringthebeginning
yearsofEmperorAshokasreignovertheIndiansubcontinent,hewasimmersedinbattlesand
ruledasotherrulersofthetime,withanironfist.ThenEmperorAshokafoundreligion,and
begantospreadtheteachingsofBuddhathroughouthiskingdom.Duringthistime,Indiawasa
peacefulregion,allowingtotraderoutestothriveandculturebegantospreadthroughouthis
entirekingdom.Withthis,manymonumentsandartwasconstructedtocommemoratebothhe
andtheteachingsofBuddha.
Ashokaerectedanumberofmonumentalmonolithicstonepillars,50feethigh.Theyare
thoughttohavebeenderivedfromaVedicroyaltraditionoffreestandingwoodenpolesbrowned
bycopperanimals,perhapsassociatedwithearlytreeworship.LiketheBodhitree,underwhich
Shakyamuniattainedenlightenment,suchpillarswouldprobablyrepresenttheaxisoftheworld.
Theaxiswasbelievedtolinkheavenandearth,separatingaswellasconnectingthem(Adams,
L).DuringthistimewhereAshokawasspreadingtheteachingsofBuddhaacrosshiskingdom,

hebegantoinscribetheteachingsofBuddhaonthesepillarssopeoplewouldbeabletolearna
peacefulwayoflife.Tomanyhistorians,thisisbelievedtobeaworkofartduringtheMauryan
Empireasthesepiecesofworkhavebeenfoundthroughoutthekingdomandspreadmanymiles
apart.Artistically,thepillarsaresignificantbecausetheircapitalsconstitutetheearliest
survivingbodyofBuddhistmonumentalsculpture(Adams,L).
OutsideofthepillarsconstructedbyAshoka,muchofBuddhismandImperialIndianart
consistsofsculpturesthatdepicteitherBuddhahimselforbodhisattvaswhicharethosewho
choosenottoliveasBuddha,buthelpthosewhoaretryingtolivelikeBuddhasothatintheir
nextlifetheywillbeabletoremovetheirearthlypossessionstolivelikeBuddha.Thedepictions
ofBuddhaorbodhisattvaswereofhumanform,whichwasimportantbecauseduringthistime
manygodstookshapesofeverythingindailylife.ThemajorityofthesculpturesofBuddha
depicthimeitherstandingorsittinginameditationpose.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_art)(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_art)

Asweseefromtheabovepictures,Buddhaisdepictedinhumanformandthetwopictures
representthewaythatBuddhaismostlydepicted,standingorsittinginameditationpose.Most
ofthephysicalfeaturesofBuddhashowhisroeasaspiritualruler.AllthesculpturesofBuddha
showhiminapeacefulmanner,whichisaveryimportantteachingofBuddhism.

(http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2420/stories/20071019505206400.htm)
TheabovepictureofBuddhadepictsaseatedBuddhafromtheKatraMoundinIndia.Thispiece
ofartisfromtheearly2ndcentury,createdfromsandstoneanditmeasures2feet3incheshigh.
Thequalityofprana,orinnerbreath,isevidentinthefigure.Thequalityofanimationandlife
marksthisfigureasamasterpieceofKushanaperiodart.ItwasdonatedbyAmohaAsi,anun,
"forthewelfareandhappinessofallsentientbeings".Thisisacommonwishexpressedin
donativeinscriptionsatNaga,JainaandBuddhistsitesofthisperiod
(http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2420/stories/20071019505206400.htm).
DuringtheMauryanreign,wesawtheteachingsofBuddhaflourish,aswellastheart
thatdepictsBuddha.DuringthispeacefultimeintheIndiansubcontinent,theteachingsof
Buddhahelpedtheeconomyandculturespreadthroughouttheentirekingdom.

Sources
Adams,Laurie.ArtAcrossTime:PrehistorytotheFourteenthCentury,VolumeI,Fourth
Edition.NewYork,NewYork,McGrawHill.Print.
Muchofmyunderstandingofancientartcomesfromthistextbook.Ihavehadthe
opportunitytoresearchandlearnabouttheancientworldandtheartthatcomeswithit.This
textbookfromLaurieAdamswasusedinaclassthatIattended,andIstillreferbacktoittoday.
ImperialIndiaandBuddhistarthavearichhistorywhichisportrayedinthisbook.
Frontline,IndiasNationalMagazine.Volume24,Issue20.October616,w007.Web.
http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2420/stories/20071019505206400.htm
WhenresearchingIndianandBuddhistart,Icameacrossthiswebsitewhichisthe
nationalmagazineofIndia.TobetterunderstandwhatIndianandBuddhistartwas,Iventured
throughoutthiswebsiteandlearnedvaluableinformation.Formanyyears,Buddhistshave
enjoyedmanyfineworksthatwerebuiltduringthereignofthegreatemperorAshoka,andfor
manyartiststofollow.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_art

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_art