Gandhara and Mathura School of Art - Major Differences

India has a rich and varied culture as characterized in the later art forms of the subcontinent, dating from the 14th through the 19th century. Art and culture is an important topic in the IAS Exam. A substantial number of questions can be asked from the art and culture segment in UPSC Prelims as well as Mains examination. Here we are giving the major difference between the Gandhara School of Art and the Mathura school of Art.

The Gandhara School of Art

During the Kushana Empire’s rule, the Gandhara art prospered in India. Above all, Kanishka, the greatest of the Kushanas was a famous backer of art and architecture. The Gandhara School of art flourished in his reign. Gandhara School was profoundly influenced by Greek methodologies.

The figures of Buddha were more spiritual and carved mainly in grey and bluish-grey colour with the finest details.

The Mathura School of Art

The Mathura School of Art was entirely influenced by Indianism. The stone used in the Mathura school of arts was red sandstone. The sculptures were less spiritual.

They mostly used the spotted red sandstone for making sculptures and statues. The initial images of the Buddha and the Bodhisattva are happy and fleshy figures with little spirituality about them. The Mathura School of arts prided themselves on creating images of Buddha and they also made statues of many gods and goddesses such as Jain Tirthankaras.

To know more in detail about the Buddha and his Teachings, visit the linked article

Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

Difference between Mathura and Gandhara School of Art

Although both the  Mathura and Gandhara schools of Art share some rudimentary similarities between themselves, there are some fundamental differences between the two: which is highlighted  in the table given below:

Areas of differences Gandhara School of art Mathura School of Art
Reign Kushana Dynasty Kushana Dynasty
Area Gandhara  (Now located in the Peshawar Valley of Modern-day Pakistan) Mathura
Outside influences Greek and possibly Macedonian influence
  • Entirely indigenous
  • No external influence
Religious influence Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism
Material Used Bluish- Grey sandstone

Grey sandstone

Spotted red sandstone
Features of Buddha sculptures Spiritual Buddha

Sad Buddha

Bearded Buddha

Less ornamentation

Great detailing

Buddha in Yogi postures

Greek factors like wavy hair, large forehead, long ears

Smiling Buddha

Less emphasis on spiritual aspects

Shaven head and face

Muscular Physique

Graceful posture of Buddha

Seated in Padmasana

Buddha surrounded by two monks: Padmapani (holding Lotus) and Vajrapani( Holding Vajra)

Halo around the head of Buddha decorated with geometrical motifs

The Standing Buddhas of the Sravasti, Sarnath, and Kausambhi

 

Various Mudras of Buddha in Gandhara Art Abhayamudra- Don’t fear

Bhumisparshamudra -Touching the earth

Dhyana mudra- Meditation

Dharmachakramudra- A preaching mudra

Thus learning about the various schools of art is essential as this is an important topic that can be asked in the IAS exam. You can also refer to the following links to prepare for the Art and Culture segment of the exam.

Gandhara and Mathura School of Art (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. For more articles and exam-related preparation materials, refer to the links given in the table below:

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