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Abstracted Forms: The 'Bharhut Style' Of The Mathura Region (Ca. 150 Bce)

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Chapter Summary

The combined evidence from archaeological excavations, the yavanarajya inscription, the Mahābhāṣya of Patañjali, and the Dhanabhūti inscriptions reveal that Mathura rose to some prominence during the time of the Śuṅgas namely ca. 150 BCE. The sculptures discussed in this chapter are datable to this period on the basis of their distinctive sculptural style, which is like that of the extensive carvings from Bharhut dated to the reign of the Śuṅgas. The earliest known group of four iconic sculptures examined here all represent divinities associated with forces of nature, namely yakṣas and nāgas. Although most of the sculptures discussed here are to varying degrees broken or eroded, the high quality of workmanship is nevertheless discernible. The relatively high quality of terracotta sculptures recovered from Maurya strata at Mathura suggests some level of artistic activity prior to the second century BCE.

Keywords: Śuṅgas reign; archaeological excavations; Bharhut; Mathura region; nāgas; yakṣas



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