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  • Writer's pictureMeenakshi Raje

Mauryan Art and Architecture

4th century BCE,an era of transformation of the religious and social scenario of Gangetic Valley.The whole and sole reason was the emergence of Buddhism and Jainism.

After dethroning Nandas Mauryas rule begin and so the new era for art and architecture.A clear demarcation is seen between architecture and sculpture as well.

During Mauryan regime two types of art and architecture can be seen.

First that was initiated by the Empire known as the court art.Second was initiated by the Commoners ,which includes, sculpture,cave arts,potteries etc.They came to be known as popular art

Court Art:-

●Palaces -The first powerful empire which came to power in India were Mauryas.Their capital was at Patliputra .

Their palace in Kumharar is the mark of attraction and reveals their splendid work in the terms of architecture.

It was the palace of Chandragupta Maurya which was inspired by the Achaemenid palaces at Persepolis in Iran.Built up with wood,it was so beautiful that Megasthenese called it as one of the greatest creations of Mankind.

Not only his palace,but Ashoka's palace at kumharar too was anazingly beautiful .It had a three-storey wooden structure with well decorated carvings and sculptures at wall.

●Pillars-The story of pillars and inscriptions on them as a commemoration of victory is directly related to one of the greatest rulers of Mauryan Empire,The Great -Ashoka.

To propagate imperial sermons too,pillars were being used by him.

The pillars were usually made of Chunar Sandstone of in around 40 feet height.

It consists of a long shaft (base) made up of monolith .Capital of lotus or bell shaped on its top.An animal figure was placed on the abacus which was above the capital.

The striking feature was ,they were highly polished.


The Art of Stupa reached to its zenith during Ashokan period.They were actually burial mounds in which relics and ashes of the dead were kept.

It is believed that there were about 84000 stupas built during the time of Ashoka.

Popular art

●Cave Architecture:-

Viharas were common during the Mauryan period which were rock cut caves and were used as living quarters by Jain and Buddhist monks.They have decorative gateways and the interior walls were highly polished.

●Sculpture:- Yaksh and Yakshini,the two most famous sculpture of Mauryan period.They were having religious values and were related to Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism as well.

●Pottery :-During Mauryan Period,Northern Black Polished ware or Painted Grey were potteries were used.They had highly lustrous finish.

The most striking feature of the Mauryan art was the accurate finish and highly polished pillars.The technique they used is still unanswered.

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