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Art of Satvahanas



Eastern gateway at Sanchi 2nd-1st century BC. Satvahanas. Scenes from life of Buddha. Adoration of the tree,the wheel,the stupa,winged lions. Srilakshmi bathed by elephants.salabhanjika.  (click on pic. to see larger image)

Satvahane 2nd AD.Govt Museum,Madras. (click on pic. to see larger image)

Noble Naga prince of Champeya Jataka.Panel from freize in Nagarjunakonda.Ikshvalur,2-3rd AD.National Museum, New Delhi (click on pic. to see larger image)

 Meanwhile in the south rose a dynasty called Satvahanas (later identified as the Andhras) who spread their reign from west central India down to eastern Deccan and contributed their name to the area now called Andhra Pradesh !  The stupa of Sanchi, erected by Ashoka in central India near Bhopal was significantly added upon (around the end of 1st century BC) by the art loving Andhra rulers, which not only doubled in it's size, but underwent significant stone renovations under their reign to become the greatest Buddhist monument in India. Major features added were four splendidly carved stone gates called toranas. (Completed during the lifetime of Christ). Also, an ambulatory passage was raised up and around the stupa's base to provide the opportunity of circumambulation to the pilgrims and, a three tiered umbrella was placed on the flattened top of the dome. This transformed the simple burial mound to the new Buddhist concept of the 'world mountain', with the four gates signifying the four quarters of the universe and the three tiered umbrella as the gateway to heaven joining the celestial powers to the fertile earth.  The carving at Sanchi is much more sophisticated than at the previous stupas as it was done by ivory carvers from the nearby towns, with the most famous carved structure being the stone brackets sculpted in the form of Yakshis in the tribhang (the three body bends) pose.  The Buddha though, was even now represented only through symbols. In the Deccan, the Andhras were also responsible for a series of significant Buddhist complexes through the second century BC to third century AD including the well renowned ones at Jaggayyapeta and Nagarajunakonda. But the most famous and splendid is the one at Amravati which is also identified as the most beautiful flowering of Andhran sculpture giving it the name of the Amravati School. This great stupa at Amravati began as a simple brick cored shrine about the time of Christ, but received its final famed carved facings between 150 AD to 200 AD. The stone railing encircling the circular drum was richly carved both inside and out as was also the circular base of the drum which provide a virtual gallery for the rich and distinct first Indian Amravati School of sculpture. The carving is alive with a sense of animation and inner vitality and has the fluidity and smoothness of water worn pebbles.The Buddha is again represented only symbolically till about AD 180-200 when the Buddha suddenly appeared in form at Amravati. By the beginning of the third century AD, the Andhran powers in the Deccan began to decline providing a stage for the resurgence of Brahmanism in the South.

Terminals of architraves of western gateway(torama) with curved panels, jabalea scenes. (click on pic. to see larger image)



Stupa of krishma valley type. Stone slab from Nagarjunakonda 2-3rd AD.Ikshavalur.National Museum ,New Delhi. Scenes of Jataka. Story of Mandhata in the centre.Lion guarded gateways,5 pillars of avalea type, adoring celestials above. (click on pic. to see larger image)



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Arts Indian Atelier 1999-2000