Sculptures had been the predominant mode of visual art in ancient India. Records of sculpture of India are as old as Indus Valley Civilization. The figurine of the dancing girl cast in bronze is the most famous example. Sculpture is the 3rd millennium also includes the Great Baths of Mohenjo-Daro.
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It was during the reign of Maurya dynasty, the sculpture became religious in nature. However, a number of sculptures of the Kings from the era also exist. Sculptures were used in temple to complement the scared and complex carvings of temples, stupas, and caves. The magnificent temple of Khajuraho and Great Sanchi Stupa are prime examples.
In the northwest of India, and throughout much of what in 1947 became Pakistan, a school of Buddhist existed since 1st century AD. The region sits at the cross-road of the ancient Silk Road and was a point of communication for a number of cultural influences. It is from these interactions, especially between the Greco-Roman and Buddhist style that that the realism of Gandhara sculpture developed.
In the southern half of India, in the Kingdoms of Chola, Pallavas, Cheras, Pandyas, Nayaks and Chalukyas artist found lucrative patronage. To read about the different form of sculptures in India please click here.
Modernism Indian sculpture began in early 20th century with the adaptation of western academic art traditions. Sculptors who trained in the realist style at British art schools worked on secular subjects in a departure from ancient and medieval Indian norms. It in the 1940’s and 1950’s Indian modern sculpture developed a unique indigenous language, best represented by the works of Ram Kinker Baij. Another name that stands out among the 20th century sculptors in India is Deviprasad Chowdhury. As nationalist artist, he tried to capture the struggle of common man in British. His work “Triumph of Labour