The sculpture marvels excavated in Mathura offer an insight into Indian art from ancient times to the medieval period. The art reached its zenith from the first to the fifth century AD when the Gupta kings and Kushans were in power.
Kushans ruled over a vast land in North India from 1 AD to 175 AD. Mathura School of Art was one of the two schools of sculptural art which developed during this period. The other was Gandhara School of Art.
What is Mathura School of Art?
The Gandhara school of Art was based on Greco-Roman norms adopting foreign techniques while the Mathura school of Art was totally Indian. It was the outcome of the religious zeal of Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism. It was also influenced by Gandhara art which was manifested in its sculptures.The sculptures of the Buddha as well as beautiful women were made under this school of art. Significantly, the Buddha was given human form and sculptured in stone under this school of art during Kushan period.
The Art gave Buddha a three dimensional effect and carved in bold relief. Broad shoulders, masculine torso and right hand raised in abhaymudra are some of the characteristics of the Buddhist sculpture. The Mathura School of Art flourished further in the Gupta period when the Buddhist sculptures had sharp and beautiful features, graceful and slim body, with several folds of transparent drapery.