The terracotta art is generally described as poor man's sculpture. It projects the creative efforts of the Indian mind, its devotion towards art and society. It gives a complete picture of the evolution of art, iconography and culture of its people from early times. In the present work, it has been tried to identify the figurines and substantiate their identification through literary references. An effort has been made to discuss the quality of the art of each period upto Gupta period. The present study pays a special attention to and makes a critical estimate of the technique of Indian terracotta art in general and of Uttarpradesh in particular, which has been the most neglected aspect of this branch of art activity.
If Indian art is the mirror of Indian thought, religion, philosophy and culture and presents throughout its history a rich commentary on the life of the Indian people, the terracotta art, which is generally described as poor man's sculpture, projects the creative efforts of the Indian mind, its devotion towards art and society, its highly developed aesthetic sense and above all its minute observation and mastery over technique and drawing. It gives a complete picture of the evolution of art, iconography and culture of Indian people from very early times and presents before us a panorama of beauty and its inner meaning.
Although from very early times clay has been recognised and used as one of the important modes of art expression with its surviving examples flooding the museums of India, unfortunately it has not received scholar's proper attention. Terracotta figurines have often remained uncared for in the museums and their place in art studies has been mostly confined to the excavation reports, which do not provide a detailed discussion on them. Dr. A.K. Coomaraswamy and Dr. V.S. Agrawala recognised the worth of the terracotta figures as a source of cultural and art history and contributed some serious articles on them. Later on a group of scholars, such as Stella Kramrisch, K.De B. Codringtion, D.H. Gordon, K.P. Jaiswal, K.D. Bajpai, C.C. Dasgupta, S.A. Shere, S.C. Kala and P.L. Gupta have written on the poor man's sculpture. Their works are full of merit and hold the field even today in their own way. Their angle of study has been mainly descriptive, confined to a particular site, or else they covered such a vast region that they had little scope to make an intensive study of the subject. Thus, intensive and close studies devoted to one single area are likely to do further justice to the terracotta art. With this view the present work is undertaken. It deals comprehensively with the various aspects of this medium of creative activity in Uttar Pradesh. The approach of earlier studies on the terracotta art has been different. The writings of the earlier scholars have hardly discussed the quality and meaning of this art in the region. Here it has been tried to identify the figurines and substantiate their identification through literary references. An effort has been made to discuss the quality of the art of each period along with the gradual development of the prevalent types.
Another feature of this study is that it pays a special attention to and makes a critical estimate of the technique of Indian terracotta art in general and of Uttar Pradesh in particular, which has been the most neglected aspect of this branch of art activity.
It has also been found proper to tap literary sources to establish the status of this art and its use in both religious and secular contexts. The problem of dating the Mauryan objects has been tackled by taking into accounts both the stratigraphical evidences and stylistic considerations. The dating of clay objects of other periods has not been much disputed as we have stylistic confirmation from many archaeological excavations and from the contemporary lithic art.
Brief references have been made to different terracotta yielding sites of Uttar Pradesh in each period. A map has been provided to mark the important sites.
Looking to the large quantity of material, the present study has been confined to human figures. Such architectural panels have also been included in the study which, in any way, have been found helpful to study the development of this art. Considering the vast amount of material and common features noticed at different sites it has been my effort to discuss in detail only those figures which are more or less complete and are significant in their theme of protrayal. Care has been taken to compare the terracotta figures with the contemporary lithic art in order to justify the arguments.
The present work has been divided into seven chapters including the last one as conclusion.
In chapter I, the various references in the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Jatakas, Mahabharata, Puranas, Kavyamimamsa, Brhatkatha Kosa, Mrc-chakatikam, Agamas, Silparatna, Haribhaktivilasa, Pratima Laksanam , Kathasaritsagara and also in the works of Kalidasa and Bana Bhatta have been discussed.
Chapter II deals with the different technological stages through which the ancient terracotta figurines had to pass before coming to the people. It provides a comparative study of such methods as the treatment of clay, hand modelling, complete moulding (Single and Double), making on wheel, baking, and colouring. .
Chapter III about the terracotta figurines of the Mauryan period, throws light on the political history, social and religious background of the terracotta art, archaic terracottas, foreign influence on terracotta art, influence of folk culture and the cultural influence of the imperial court, technical development, art merit, aesthetic quality and the regional style. The problem of dating has also been tackled. Religious and secular types along with their iconographical development have also been discussed.
Chapter IV concerning the terracotta figurines of the Sunga period describes the political history, art condition, technical development, approach towards beautification and influence of nature on art.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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