India Art Buddhist Prev

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    2008 Approach Guides p. 1 of 23Indian Art & Architecture: Buddhist www.approachguides.com

    Ancient Buddhist art and architecture -- e.g. Buddhist rock cut caves and Hellenistic-inspiredpainted and sculptural forms -- serves as the foundation for the Indian aesthetic. In thisApproachGuides document, we provide a condensed, yet comprehensive overview of Buddhist artand architecture, designed specifically for the traveler in India. We begin by reviewing thehistorical origins of and characteristic elements of Buddhist architecture; we then offer a similar

    analysis of Buddhist sculptural and painted forms; finally, we provide detailed reviews of the chiefBuddhist architectural and artistic sights in India (specifically, Sanchi, Ajanta, and Ellora).

    Related Approach Guides o The Stupa Form's Transformation over Timeo Ancient Buddhist Caves India & Chinao Religion: Buddhismo East-West Trade Connections

    BUDDHIST ARCHITECTUREEGYPTIANS LIKELY PROVIDE THE FIRST (ALBEIT INDIRECT) INSPIRATION FOR BUDDHIST ROCK-CUT ARCHITECTURE

    Indian (Hindu and Buddhist) architecture began as a rock-cut (carving into rock formations toform structures; this architecture resembles sculpture in many respects) endeavor, rather

    than as conventional stone-built architecture (assembled stone pieces to form a whole).

    It is speculated that Indias rock-cut architectural tradition was drawn indirectly from theEgyptians. The Egyptians were probably the first civilization in the world to build in stone;

    they had been building in stone since the 27th century BCE (Djoser's Step Pyramid) and had

    begun to build tombs cut into the rock since the 16th century BCE (Valley of the Kings). Note

    that the Egyptians began with stone-built, as opposed to rock-cut structures.

    o It is interesting, historically, to note that similar stone-built structures were being builtnot too far away in Mesopotamia (modern day Iran/Iraq). These very similar stepped

    pyramids are called ziggurats; the earliest probably date from the late part of

    Sumeria's Early Dynastic period (2900-2350 BCE), which makes them slightly later

    than their Egyptian counterparts. The ziggurat design, however, was never transformed

    from a stepped pyramid to a smooth-edge pyramid, as was the case in Egypt.

    These Egyptian/Mesopotamian forms were borrowed by the Persians -- in fact, the royaltombs of Darius (521 BCE to 486/485 BCE) and the rest of the Old Persian (Achaemenid)

    Empire were rock-cut. From Persia, these forms made their way in the 2nd century BCE into Indian lands (Bihar,

    Orissa, Ajanta), influencing the India's first stone architects, Buddhists and Jain monks.These "architects" borrowed inspiration from their existing wood-based forms in creating the

    rock-cut cave structures.

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    2008 Approach Guides p. 7 of 23Indian Art & Architecture: Buddhist www.approachguides.com

    o The Gandhara images were probably more influential on early Asian Buddhist art ofthis period, given the area's closer proximity to the trade caravan routes of the Silk

    Road, through which communications were laid with the East.

    Mathura Art (area of Gangetic plain). The style is characterized by the following:o This is clearly the more indigenous "Indian" styleo The form of the body appears to be expanded or bloated by what has been termed

    "sacred breath" (prana), creating a less natural form characterized by rounded limbs.

    This was a particularly defining element, unique to Indian art, which carried on toinfluence all subsequent Indian sculptural depictions. It is also worth pointing out that

    this is most likely an indigenous (rather than Greek-adopted) sculptural style, in that it

    mirrors the earlier yakshi sculptural works the pre-date Greek influence and can still be

    seen at Sanchi on the toranas.

    o The monastic robe (formerly the Greek toga) is more shear and seemingly transparent,with less obvious folds (the robes have a network of ridges that suggest drapery folds,

    rather than actually creating a realistic fabric representation). Further, and mostnoticeable, only the left should be covered by the robe (as opposed to both shoulders

    in Gandhara tradition).

    o Abstract "snail-like twisted curl" hair styleo Characteristically, the Mathuran Buddhas face features longer earlobes, thicker lips,

    wider eyes and a more prominent nose.

    GANDHARA BUDDHA SCULPTURE

    2NDC CE, NATL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND

    MATHURA BUDDHA SCULPTURE

    2ND C CE, ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM MUTTRA

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    2008 Approach Guides p. 14 of 23Indian Art & Architecture: Buddhist www.approachguides.com

    Keep in mind that the Satavahana and Vakataka Empires were actually Hindu in religiousorientation, not Buddhist. This leads us to believe that the Ajanta caves were not constructed

    with imperial sponsorship (as was the case with many other Buddhist cave sites), but ratherwith sponsorship by wealthy individuals.

    ARCHITECTURE This area is volcanic in geological profile. Accordingly, these structures are (like Ellora) cut into

    the volcanic granite stone of the hillside.

    These temples are the earliest architecture in stone in India. Their designs served to inspirethe earliest stone-built architecture in India, that of the Chalukyas and Pallavas in the 6th

    century. From this perspective, these caves serve as the progenitor for all stone-built temple

    architecture (both the northern and southern temple styles) in India.

    You can clearly see the evolution of the chaitya (sanctuary) hall in this complex.o Cave 10 (2nd century BCE). This is the earliest stage in chaitya composition. You will

    notice (when compared with those to follow) the following:

    That the stupa is more roundish and lower lying. Actual wood beams had been inserted on the inside of the sanctuary to

    replicate earlier all-wood structures -- these beams have since rotted away,

    leaving only the hollowed out stone flat-surfaced ceiling (although you can still

    see the markings made by the wooden beams when they were in place).

    CAVE 10