Amaravati School of Art

The Great Amravati School of Art [2022]

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Amravati School of art is famous for its Amravati stupa. This school was one among three renowned schools which rose along with the spread of Buddhism. The spread of Buddhism was on the rise during the first and second century, which lead to the establishment of three schools of Arts in India, which had their styles and distinctions. These three schools of arts were Gandhara school of Art, Mathura school of Art and Amaravati school of Arts. They derive their name after the places of their prominence.

This article deals with the Amravati School of Art.

Amaravati School of Art

  • Amaravati School of Art flourished for nearly six centuries, beginning from 200-100 BCE.
  • The main area of the Amaravati school of art is the Vengi region which lies majorly in between the Krishna River and Godavari River in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • the famous  stupa sites of Vengi in Andhra Pradesh shown on the map above are :
    • Jagayyapetta, 
    • Amaravati, 
    • Bhattiprolu, 
    • Nagarjunkonda, 
    • Goli
  • Amaravati School of Arts got patronage from, first by the Satavahanas and later by the Ikshvakus kingdom.

Main features of Amaravati school of arts

  • The material used in the Amravati School of Art, predominantly in the ”Stupa” is a distinctive white marble.
  • A most distinguishing characteristic of the Amaravati School of Art is its narrative art.
  • Religious as well as secular images were present in this school of art.
  • Buddha and his life events in the Amravati school of Arts were predominantly represented by symbolic figures, though at two three-place “Buddha” is also shown personified.
  • Sculpture figures found in the Amravati School Of Art display intense emotion.
  • Figures found here are slender, shows a lot of movement, and often the bodies appear with three bents (i.e. tribhanga).
  • The sculptural composition found in the Amravati school of arts is more complex than at Sanchi.
  • Sculptures crafted to look flexible rather than linear, the dynamic movements shown creates a sense of 3D space and breaks the stillness of forms.
  • Pronounced volume, angular bodies and complex overlappings here create three-dimensional space in the relief sculptures. 
Amaravati School of Art
amaravati stupa panel

Important Sites

Some of the important places which are an example of Amravati school of Arts are:

  • Amravati Mahachaitya
  • Amaravati Stupa 
  • Guntapalle- a rock-cut cave site near Eluru 
  • Rock-cut stupas at Anakapalle near Vishakhapatanam 
  • Sannati is the largest stupa site excavated in Karnataka.

Amravati stupa

The famous Amaravati school of art site Amravati stupa is discussed in brief here:

  • Amaravati Stupa experienced the best development in the period of the first and second centuries CE. But there is evidence of construction activities during the third century BCE also.
  • Amaravati Stupa has pradakshinapatha ( Circumbulatory path ) enclosed within a vedika portrayed with much narrative sculpture.
  • One of the unique features of the Amravati stupa is that the domical stupa structure covered with relief stupa sculptural slabs
  • The Torana (Entrance gate)of the Amaravati Stupa has disappeared over time.
  • The stupa art forms present here depicts the events from the life of the Buddha and the Jataka stories
  • As in Sanchi Stupa, the early phase of Amaravati stupa is devoid of Buddha images except in the later stage during the second and third centuries CE Buddha images were carved upon the drum slabs and at many other places.
amaravati stupa
amaravati stupa

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