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During the Gupta period the Buddhist sculptural art reached its zenith and his standing images not only largely captured the art scenario and came out with a tremendous variety of themes and styles but also excelled in their plasticity, modeling and over-all excellence. Now besides the stone, metal was another popular medium for these votive images. Devotees needed smaller and lighter images for personal shrines and sometimes to carry them from one place to the other. There also developed the fashion of gifting Buddha's statues. Obviously, being massive and heavy, the stone sculptures could suit a monastery or shrine but not the other purposes. Metal casts better suited for such subsidiary purposes and hence by the middle of the Gupta period metal images were as much in vogue. Some of the earliest images of Buddha depicting him in standing postures, recovered from various parts of northern India, especially Govind Nagar (Mathura), Dhanesar Khera, Phophnar, Ramtek, Sarnath, Nalanda etceteras, now in the collections of various museums of the world, define the golden era of India's sculptural art and metal cast. Buddha's standing icons, by the movement of his legs, represented him traveling, by the gesture of his fingers, teaching, by the demeanour of his palm, imparting abhaya and the like. This image depicts him in the teaching mode.
This brass statue, a great work of art, takes the viewing eye back to the 5th -6th century classical India when under the Gupta rulers her art witnessed its all time heights and glory. It has on its face the same kind of serenity and benevolent composure as have Buddha's images sculpted during great Guptas. It seems to derive its plasticity and sensuousness from the Mathura art and its elegance and linear rhythm from the art cult of Amaravati, though in its spiritual vision it is stronger and in its aesthetics it has greater heights. This image depicts a unique synthesis of the thought and art, of the inner substance and the outer form and of a disciplined body and conquered mind. The body glows with the sap of life, the face with the subtle spiritual perception and the eye, with their drooping eyelids, look within. A refined sensitivity and luminosity define this bronze cast. Its webbed fingers, except the two forwarded in the gesture of explaining something, and ridged drapery folds, except its lower part, which has been substituted by a self designing character, are characteristic features of Mathura Buddha. The child-like face with celestial innocence enshrining it is typical of early Nepal art. The image is simply remarkable in its fine proportions, delicate treatment of the figure and the benign expression on the face. The treatment of garment is unique. The two ends, falling from the held out hands, form symmetrical pairs of wavy lines. The folds, from the neck to below the waist, are indicated by thin undulating semi-circular lines, which curve into angles in between the thighs. The lower part does not have ripples like the upper part but has faint but elaborate floral designing pattern. Its end part frills like the feathers of a bird. The image proper stands installed on a pedestal consisting of a lotus with multiple petals.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.