How will you explain that medieval Indian temple sculptures represent the social life of those days? (Answer in 150 words) 10 M

Sculpture serves a multifaceted purpose beyond mere decoration. Its application extends to the representation of politics, culture, history, religion, rituals, and commemorative tributes in various contexts. The nature of sculpture as a tactile art form existing in the same space as its viewers means that its significance evolves with time and location. Bronze busts, grandiose statues, and intricate stone carvings all embody authentic images and concepts from past societies.

  • A common message conveyed by sculptures pertains to a civilization’s adherence to specific religious beliefs.
  • In the early stages of Buddhism, Buddha was represented symbolically through various elements such as footprints, stupas, lotus thrones, and chakras. These depictions served as a means of simple worship, paying respect, and sometimes commemorating significant life events.
    • Sculptural decorations came to incorporate the Jataka stories with equal importance.
    • The motif of the chakra holds great significance in Buddhist art, serving as a representation of the Dhammachakra.
    • The wheel embodies the Dharma, or teachings of the Buddha, with three swirls at its center representing the three jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha (teacher), the Dharma (teachings), and the sangha (community).
    • The Dharma chakra’s circular form represents the completeness of the Dharma, with the wheel serving as its emblematic representation.
  • Gurjara-Pratihara’s sculptures, carved panels, and open pavilion-style temples are renowned.
  • Khajuraho marked the pinnacle of their temple-building style, now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • The arrangement, architecture, and positioning of the building’s elements carry symbolic significance, embodying the fundamental values of Hinduism.
  • Vasantgarh, Devangarh, Palta, Osian, Dilwara, Chittor, Mandor, and other regions in Rajasthan remained significant sites for ongoing sculptural activity.
  • The Gurjara Pratiharas ruled over a vast kingdom spanning Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, and their reign during the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries witnessed a remarkable cultural revival.
    • Mahishasuramardini in relief, Girigovardhana panel, Arjuna’s penance or the Descent of the Ganga, Trivikrama Vishnu, Gajalakshmi, and Anantasayanam are among the notable sculptures that embody the faith and convictions of the community.
  • The sculptural tradition of Gandhara emerged from the intermingling of Bactria, Parthia, and the indigenous Gandhara culture, offering insights into the structure and customs of the society.
  • The local sculptural tradition of Mathura gained such prominence that it spread to other regions of northern India.
    • The stupa sculptures discovered at Sanghol in Punjab serve as a prime example in this regard.
  • Depictions of Vaishnava (primarily Vishnu and his various forms) and Shaiva (mainly lingas and mukhalingas) beliefs are also present at Mathura, reflecting the religious convictions of the society.
  • The Chola sculptures began casting bronze sculptures around the middle of the 10th century AD, and among the numerous bronze figures, the Nataraja image in its various forms holds a preeminent position.

Sculptures depict typical life scenarios, often inspired by the activities in the immediate vicinity. Like all forms of art, sculptures aim to convey a message. Artists create sculptures to express ideas, religious beliefs, historical events, and even heroic mythical tales.

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