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Q 24- It is said that the Pala period witnessed the last great phase of Buddhism and of the Buddhist art in India. Examine the main features of Pala art and the reasons why it ended suddenly in the 13th century. (250 Words)

  • Paper & Topic: GS I à Indian Culture

 

  • Model Answer:

 

  • Introduction:

 

  • The Pala dynasty ruled from 8th century to 12th century CE in the regions comprising Bihar and Bengal.
  • The development of art which had been in a full-fledged manner during the Mauryas and Guptas was further carried out by Palas.
  • Distinctive achievements of Palas are seen in the arts of architecture, sculpture, terracotta, painting and wall painting.

 

  • Body:

 

  • Main features of Pala art:

 

  • Architecture:

 

  • Various mahaviharas,Stupas ,chaityas,temples and forts were constructed.
  • Most of the architecture was religious with the first two hundred years dominated by Buddhist art and the last two hundred years by Hindu art.
  • Among the various mahaviharas, Nalanda, vikramashila, somapura, Traikutaka, Devikot, Pandita, Jagaddala vihara are notable.
  • Planned residential buildings for monks were made.
  • large number of manuscripts on palm-leaf relating to the Buddhist themes were written and illustrated with the images of Buddhist deities at these centres which also had workshops for the casting of bronze images.
  • Somapura mahavihara at Paharpur, a creation of Dharmapala is one of the largest Buddhist vihara in Indian sub-continent, its architectural plan had influenced the architecture of countries like Myanmar and Indonesia.

 

  • Temples:

 

  • The temples are known to express the local vanga style.
  • The ninth century siddheshvara mahadeva temple in Baraker shows a tall curving shikara crowned by a large amalaka and is an example of the early pala style.
  • The rock cave temple at Kahalgaon (9th century)shows the gabled vault roof characteristic of the South Indian architecture.

 

 

  • Terracotta:

 

  • Artistic and beautiful forms of terracotta were developed during the pala period.
  • This art was developed for the purpose of decoration.
  • Under this form of art such statues are made on walls which depict scenes from the religious and general life styles.
  • The terracotta plaques recovered from paharpur amply demonstrate the excellence of the art in the pala period.

 

  • Painting:

 

  • The earliest examples of miniature painting in India exist in the form of illustrations to the religious texts on Buddhism executed under the Palas of the eastern India.
  • There are two forms of painting manuscripts and wall painting.
  • Manuscripts were written on palm leaves .In these paintings scenes of life of Buddha and several god and goddess of Mahayana sects are depicted.
  • The impact of tantricism on these paintings are easily visible.
  • Red, blue, black and white colours are used a primary colours
  • Pala painting is characterized by sinuous line, delicate and nervous lines ,sensuous elegance, linear and decorative accent and subdued tones of colour.
  • It is naturalistic style which resembles the ideal forms of contemporary bronze and stone sculpture and reflects some feeling of classical art of Ajanta with sensuous bias of art of Eastern India.
  • Wall painting has been found in Saradh and Sarai sthal in Nalanda district.
  • At the bottom of the platform made of granite stone flowers of geometric shapes, images of animals and humans are found.

 

  • Pala sculpture:

 

  • The Gupta tradition of sculptural art attained a new height under the patronage of Pala rulers.
  • The art incorporated lot of local characteristics in Bengal under the Palas and it continued right up to the end of 12th
  • The sculptures of stones and bronze were constructed in large numbers mostly in monastic sites of nalanda,Bodh Gaya etc
  • Most of the sculptures drew their inspiration from Buddhism.
  • Apart from Buddha sculptures of gods and goddess of Hindu Dharma like surya, Vishnu, Ganesh etc were constructed.
  • The finest sculptures include a female bust ,two standing Avalokiteshwara images from Nalanda
  • Buddhist sculptures is characterized by a prominent and elaborately carved black slab and lotus seat frequently supported by lions.
  • Generally only frontal parts of the body have been shown in the sculptures. The front as highly detailed and decorated.
  • Due to influence of tantrism the sculptures of god were given different touches like that of female, animal etc.
  • Bronze casting was an important feature of pala sculptures.
  • Also present examples of artistic beauty carved out of stone sculptures.
  • These are made of black basalt stones .
  • The pala style is marked by slim and graceful figures, elaborate jewellery and conventional decoration
  • The main features of pala sculptures is their free flowing movement.
  • Almost all figures are of similar sizes and were carved out of grayish or white spotted sandstone.

 

  • Somapura Mahavihara, a World Heritage Site, was built by Dharmapala

 

  • Conclusion:

                                                                                   

  • Reasons for sudden ending:

 

  • The Pala art came to a sudden end after the destruction of the Buddhist monasteries at the hands of Muslim invaders in the first half of the 13th century.
  • Some of the monks and artists escaped and fled to Nepal, which helped in reinforcing the existing art traditions there.
  • Ramapala was the last strong Pala ruler. After his death, a rebellion broke out in Kamarupa during his son Kumarapala’s reign.
  • So due to rebellions art was not focussed much.
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