Amaravati Stupa

Amaravati Stupa - Featured

Amaravati Stupa great monuments at Amaravati are all in ruins. Practically nothing is left on the site. however , a large number of slabs of white or grey limestone resembling marble that forms parts of panels, friezes, rails and pillars recovered from the old site, testify to the past grandeur of its monuments and the high artistic skill of the sculptors. Most of them are in the Madras museum.

Amaravati Stupa - Sculptures

Amaravati Stupa

Amaravati  Stupa was regarded to be a very important seat of Buddhism and it attracted pilgrims from distant places. Its Great Stupa was famous as it contained the relics of Buddha. It was surrounded by a sculptured rail about 13 feet high. The Great Stupa rose to a height of about 100 feet.

The rail was formed of upright slabs or pillars about 10 feet high. The inside of the rail was richly carved.the rail was probably the most elaborate and artistic monument of the kind in India. The Stupa measured about 435 feet in circumference at the base.

Amaravati Stupa - Hiuen Tsang

It was entirely faced with slabs of rich sculpture up to the capital. No other Buddhist shrine in India has no so many sculptures as Amaravati. It is not equalled by any in quality. Hiuen Tsang rightly observed that it  “displayed all the magnificence of the palaces of Bacteria.”

Amaravati Stupa Was First Built By

It is possible that the original Stupa might have been built by Ashoka. Mahadeva, one of his missionaries, went to South India and he supposed to have established a centre there. In the time of Hiuen Tsang, Amaravati was falling in ruins.

Amaravati Stupa - Buddhist Architecture

In spite of that, there were about 20 monasteries still in good condition and they provided residence for nearly a thousand monks belonging to various schools of Buddhism. It was at Amaravati Stupa that Hiuen Tsang studied the Buddhist scriptures.

Critics of art point out to four periods of development of the art at Amaravati. During the first period which ranged from about 200 B.C. to 100 B.C.., the style was similar to that of Bharhut.

Periodly Changes of Amaravati Stupa

The specimens of this period are very few and those also mostly in fragments. They exhibit a certain amount of stiffness, void of flexion. We come across some animals with wings and eagle heads.

The second period was up to about 100 A.D. and it showed a definite step forward. The earlier stiffness was less noticeable.

For the first time, we have buddha represented in human form. Women are shown as dressed but they still appear to be nude.

The third period covered the second century A.D. To this period belongs the rail constructed around the great Stupa. We have a large number of the remains of the rail and their imposing character shows that it was a noble structure.

The figures here are delicate and there is a soft touch in them. They crowd in the scenes but there is a light feeling in all. A remarkable feature of these sculptures is the delineation of different planes. In the representation of scenes of action and human emotions, the sculptors of the rail period were complete masters.

Amaravati Stupa - Architecture

The fourth period was during the third century A.D. The figures of this period are sometimes slightly taller and slimmer. Occasionally, they are somewhat diminutive in size.

The finest miniature sculptures in small circular bosses in the friezes and casing slabs are the work of this period. Most of the sculptures of this period are carved over the original early casing slabs.

In evolution of Torana or Gateway of a Buddhist Stupa, the earliest type is to be found at Amaravati. It consisted of only a pair of pillars to which were tied the two ends of a fresh wreath daily or periodically.

In course of time, it gave place to structural representations as seen at Bharhut and Sanchi. The primitive Torana as depicted in the contemporary sculptural representations of the original great Stupa of Amaravati on its decorative slabs, consisted of two slender pillars. Their tops were guarded by two or four lions. Connecting the four gateways the rail round the Stupa.

Declaration About Art On Amaravati Stupa

According to Dr. A.C. Sen, the art of Amaravati  Stupa developed out of the inspiration and style of the artists of Asoka. It is possible that after the fall of Mauryan empire, some of the artists found refuge in the courts of the Satavahanas who were the political successors of the Mauryas.

These artists developed the art of the Satavahanas. The art of Amaravati was reflected in the seventh century at Mahabalipuram from where the influence of Amaravati spread to Greater India and its influence can be seen at Borobudur, Prambanan, etc.

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