Difference between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

India has a rich and varied culture as characterized in the later art of the subcontinent, dating from the 14th through the 19th century. Art and culture is an important topic in the UPSC 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 Gandhara School of Art and Mathura school of Art.


During Kushana 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 color with the finest detailing.


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.


Areas of differences

Gandhara School of art

Mathura School of Art


Kushana Dynasty

Kushana Dynasty


Northwest Frontier


Outside influences

Greek influence

  • Purely indigenous
  • No foreign influence

Religious influence


Hellenistic realism

  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Jainism
  • Secularism

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

Delighted Buddha

Less spiritual

Shaven head and face



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

Sarvatobhadrika image of 4 Jain Jinas

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.

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