Ancient India Simplified: Post Mauryan Art and Architecture 

With the decline of the Mauryan empire several small dynasties rose to power. Among them, Sungas, Kanvas, Kushanas and Shakas in the north and Satavahanas, Ikshavakus, Abhiras, and Vakatakas in Southern and Western India gained prominence.
Rock Cut CavesThe period saw the development of two types of caves:
1. Chaitya: are rectangular prayer-hall with a small stupa placed in the centre for the purpose of prayers.
2. Viharas: were used as residents of monks. 
Ex: Karle Chaitya Chaityas and Viharas in Ajanta and Ellora.
StupasPost Mauryan period the stupas became larger and more decorative.
Wood and brickwork was replaced by stone. 
Toranas: The sunga dynasty introduced the idea of Toranas (Reflects Hellinistic Art) which were beautifully decorated gateways of the stupas. 
Ex: Barhut Stupa and Torana of Sanchi stupa
SculptureSculpture reached its climax during the post Mauryan period.
Gandhara Mathura and Amaravati School of arts came into prominence.

Gandhara, Mathura and Amravati Schools of Art

FeaturesGandhara School of ArtMathura School of ArtAmravati School of Art
External influence:Heavy influence of Greek or Hellenistic sculpture, so it is also known as Indo-Greek art.It was developed indigenously and not influenced by external cultures.It was developed indigenously and not influenced by external cultures.
Ingredient used:Early Gandhara School used bluish-grey sandstone while the latter period saw the use of mud and stucco.The sculptures of Mathura School were made using spotted red sandstone.The sculptures of Amaravati School were made using white marbles.
Religious influence:Mainly Buddhist imagery, influenced by the Greco-Roman pantheon.Influence of all three religions of the time, i.e. Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism.Mainly Buddhist influence
Patronage:Patronised by Kushana rulersPatronised by Kushana rulers.Patronised by Satvahana rulers.
Area of development:Developed in the North West Frontier, in the modern day area of Kandhara.Developed in and around Mathura, Sonkh and Kankalitila. Kankalitila was famous for Jain sculptures.Developed in the Krishna-Godavari lower valley, in and around Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda.
Features of Buddha sculpture: The Buddha is shown in a spiritual state, with wavy hair. He wears fewer ornaments and is seated in the position of a yogic. The eyes are half-closed as in meditation. A protuberance is shown on the head signifying the omniscience of Buddha.Buddha is shown in a delighted mood with a smiling face. The body is muscular, wearing a tight dress. The face and head are shaven. Buddha is seated in padmasana with different mudras and his face reflects grace. A similar protuberance is shown on the head.Since the sculptures are generally part of a narrative art, there is less emphasis on the individual features of Buddha. The sculptures generally depict life stories of Buddha and the Jataka tales. i.e previous lives of Buddha in both human and animal form.

Chaitya Hall in Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves

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