Economy, Social life and Temple Architecture in Post Gupta Era
Overview of the Society:
Many important changes happened in Indian society in the post Gupta period. The land grants facilitated feudal development in India from the fifth century AD onwards. The peasants stayed in the land granted to the feudal lords. The villages transferred to these were termed as Sthana-Jana-Sahita and Janata Samriddha. This contributed to the decline of trade and commerce in the post Gupta period for causing a closed economy.
The growth of the feudal society weakened the position of the king and made him more dependent on the feudal chiefs. The domination of the feudal chiefs became dominant which resulted into the weakening of the village self-government.
The four Varnas existed in the society as mentioned in the writing of Hiuen Tsang. There were many sub castes which also prevailed at that time. The position of women seems to have deteriorated during this period. Sati and dowry were common.
Girls were married between the ages of six and eight years. In general women were distrusted. They were to be kept in seclusion. Generally, the lives of women were controlled by their male relatives like son, father, and brother.
During the post Harsha period the literary and inscriptional evidences show the advanced state of agriculture, trade and economy. The early Arab writers also refer to the fertility of the soil and the rich cultivation. Literature like Abhidhanaratnamala mentions that the soil was classified variously as fertile, barren, desert, excellent etc. It is also mentioned that different kinds of fields were selected for different classes of crops.
In the field of industry the oldest one is that of textile. The profession of weavers, dyers, tailors etc. is mentioned by the contemporary literature. Working in metal was also very popular during that period. Some centres of metal industry were famous. Saurastra (Gujarat) was famous for its bell metal industry while Vanga (Bengal) was known for its tin industry.
The trade with South East Asia during post Gupta age registered a significant increase. The Arab, Chinese and Indian sources mention the flow of trade between east and west via India. India exported sandal wood, pearls, camphor, cotton, metals, precious and semi precious stones. The imported items consisted majorly of horses. The horses were imported from Central and Western Asia. The Shrenis or guilds were important in post Gupta age.
Art and Architecture
The temples of post Gupta age can be divided into two classes’ viz. North Indian style (Nagara) and south Indian style (Dravida). The famous temples of Orissa are fine examples of the north Indian style (Nagara). These temples had mainly two parts, the cella or sanctum with the curvilinear Sikhara at its roof, and a mandapa or porch shrouded by pyramidal roof. The great Lingaraja temple of Bhubanesvar and Sun temple of Konark are the best examples of this type.
The temples at Khajuraho built by the Chandella rulers contributed to the field of temple architecture greatly.
The rock cut temple called rathas at Mamallapuram and the temples at Kanchi, called Kailashnath and Vaikuntha Perumal are the earliest examples of the south Indian or Dravidian style.
The earliest example of the south Indian or Dravidian style are the rock cut temple known as rathas at Mamallapuram and the structural temples at Kanchi, known as Kailashnath and Vaikuntha Perumal. All these temples were built by the Pallavas. The two magnificent temples at Tanjore and Gangaikondacholapuram were built by the Cholas.
The Sikharas or towers in south Indian temples were marked by pyramidal towers which were straight lined.
The art of sculpture declined rapidly during the post Gupta age. However, the sculptures of eastern India during the Pala period show a fair degree of excellence. The sculptures of Orissa achieved high standard of excellence.