Gupta Art

Gupta Art

The Gupta gallery takes us to the golden era of Indian art (4th - 6th century C.E.) in which, under the enlightened patronage of the Gupta rulers, Indian art attained classic perfection in human, faunal as well as floral forms and set the standard of artistic creation for the coming centuries. Highly animate, youthful and expressive, the divine beings are often represented with a circular halo and decorated with circular floral bands. The major centres of artistic activities during this period were Mathura and Sarnath.

Several new iconographic images emerged in the Gupta period, owing to the evolution and development of religious thought and iconography. For example, a Nataraja from Nachana appears to be the earliest image of dancing Shiva. Ekamukha Shivalinga from Khoh is another masterpiece of this gallery. Yet another rare image is of the Chaturmukhi Surya which is a Shivalinga with four figures representing Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Surya. The image of Vishnu, displayed in the gallery, is known for its  grace, beauty and artistic perfection. Also on display in this gallery are several panels from Deogarh in Uttar Pradesh, which depict stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Buddha images from Sarnath are remarkable for the diaphanous drapery, a major characteristic feature of the Sarnath School.

A large number of terracotta figures have been found in places such as Mathura, Ahichchhatra, Bhitargaon and Kaushambi. Like the stone sculptures, the terracotta figures are also notable for their suppleness of movement, benign expression and perfect proportion. Nearly life-size images of Ganga and Yamuna displayed in the Early Medieval Gallery are unparalleled in the realm of Indian terracotta art. Similarly, the terracotta plaques depicting stories from the Mahabharata present the most eloquent examples of this art in the gallery.

The legacy of Gupta art was adopted and further developed by the Maitraka rulers of Vallabhi in Gujarat (6th to 8th century C.E.) whose sculptures are delicately modelled in soft bluish green stone. A few of them are on display in this gallery.

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