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Indian & South Asian Sculpture

Sculpture in South Asia emerged in the Indus Valley civilization and rapidly spread throughout the region. Examples of sculpture from this period consist predominantly of pottery figurines that portray animals and deities and have been discovered in what is now modern day Pakistan. Rare examples of sculptures forged from stone and metal have been excavated from these sites, including a miniature female bronze statuette that is considered a national treasure due to its extreme scarcity.

Other well-known and celebrated genres of South Asian and Indian sculpture include the pink sandstone sculptures of Mathura (100-300 A.D.); the bronzes of the Chola dynasty (850-1250 A.D.); and the Greco-Buddhist sculptures of Gandhara (100-200 A.D.), which reflect the influence of the Greeks after the invasion of Alexander the Great. South Asia’s reputation as one of the most prolific and masterful regions of sculptural production remains as robust today as ever before.

Quick Facts

  • The Persian and Greek influence in Gandharan sculpture appears evident in the wavy hair, sandals, and acanthus leaf decorations that adorn many of the figurines from this area
  • Classically speaking, monumental sculpture in India and South Asia generally relates to religious subject matters, often depicting deities in straightforward frontal poses
  • Greco-Buddhist art developed in South Asia over a period of roughly a thousand years between the invasion of Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. and the Islamic conquests in the 7th century A.D.

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