Types of Indian Sculpture | Wooden Sculpture, Sand Sculpture, Marble Sculpture, Bronze sculpture

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Indian Sculpture

The sculptural traditions, forms, and styles of the civilizations of the Indian subcontinent. Sculpture was the favoured medium of artistic expression on the Indian subcontinent. Indian buildings were profusely adorned with it and indeed are often inseparable from it. The subject matter of Indian sculpture was almost invariably abstracted human forms that were used to instruct people in the truths of the Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain religions. The nude was used both to represent the body as a symbol of spirit and to reveal the imagined shapes of the gods. There is an almost complete suppression of individuality in Indian sculpture; this is because the figures are conceived of as shapes that are more perfect and final than anything to be found in the merely transitory appearance of human models. The multiple heads and arms of sculptured Hindu divinities were thought necessary to display the manifold attributes of these gods’ power.

Types of Indian Sculpture:

  • Wooden Sculptures
  • Bronze Sculptures
  • Marble Sculptures
  • Stone Sculptures
  • Sand Sculptures 

Wooden Sculpture

Indian wooden sculpture has marked its presence since ancient times and has been the evidence of artistic brilliance. Every region of India had developed its own unique style of wooden structures, marked with a distinct type of carving, strongly influenced by local traditions and the materials that were locally available. From the southern parts of India, the wooden sculptures and toys are popular for their intricate carving works and meticulous finishing. In Indian wood sculpture, idols of god, goddesses and demigods are the most preferred themes.

Bronze Sculptures

Sculpture of Bronzes immensely radiates a sense of immortality and powerfully reflects the fascination and mystery about the ancient cultures of BuddhismJainism and Hinduism. The art of making Bronze sculptures began in the Indus Valley Civilization (2400-B.C.), where the Indus Bronze statuette of a slender-limbed “dancing girl” was found in Mohenjodaro. The stone sculptures and their inner sanctum images in the temple remained on a fixed place, until the 10th century, where the newly emerged religious concepts demanded that the idols should appear in a variety of public roles. As a consequence, large bronze images were created as these images could be carried outside the temple places. Then from the 9th to the 13th centuries in the Chola period, the art activities were carried out in enormous quantity, where new temples to show the architectural skills were built and old ones renovated with additional beauty and grand festivals were organized.

Marble Sculptures

Entire artwork of marble sculptures in India bears the excellent style and patterns of finest craftsmanship that are achieved with quality. They provide an articulate glimpse of strikingly attractive, versatile sizing of beautiful artistic designs and craftsmanship. One of the features of marble is that the finest marbles used for sculpture does not contain stains. But some of natural stains are seen in the sculpture, which the sculptor skillfully incorporates into the sculpture.

As per Historical evidences the art of marble sculpture reached at the peak during the Mughal rule. In Mughal dynastyShah Jahan‘s reign is marked for monumental Taj Mahal architectural achievements. He initiated the most important architectural change in the form of the use of marble in preparation of monuments or tombs instead of sandstone.

Stone Sculptures

Sarnath is one of the most beautiful sites in the world & sacred where the Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon, which was the introduction of Buddhism. The Lion Capital on top of one of pillar, which is recognized as the National Emblem of India, is from Sarnath. The Emperor Ashoka who worked in this life for spreading the Buddha’s message of love and compassion visited Sarnath around 234 BC, and erected a Grand stupa. Along with it, several other Buddhist structures were raised at Sarnath between the 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD that represents today the most expansive ruins amongst places on the Buddhist trail.

The main structure of the place has been enclosed and marked with the presence of a complex structure of monasteries that are half-ruined condition stupas. Dhamek Stupa is known for particular significance at Sarnath as it signifies the “seat of the holy Buddha”, after he proclaimed his faith. Believed to be constructed 5th to 6th century, it is a cylindrical tower of around 30 meters high with a solid structure. But the sculptural beauty is maintained with all the architectural techniques. The trunk of the stupa is decorated using panels carved with geometric and floral designs.

Sand Sculptures

Sand sculpture, reminiscent of any Indian sculptures can be of multiple shape, size or form. Sand sculpture is native to Orissa which has later spread its root towards whole of India. It can include the above things- a castle, or created in a human, animal, plant or a fantasy form. As this art is comparatively a recent one, it didn’t have any historical references. Although not historically proved, the origin of this art is found in the Orissan myths. Sometimes even coloured sand is also used to create sculpture, as in Luilang of China. In making sand sculptures, the goal is to create those objects which appear as an artistic example. Now, many artists have got engaged to prepare sand sculptures in India and such sand sculptures are displayed in large sizes and in complex structures. Though sand sculptures are comparatively new to the culture of India, they are widely accepted by the inhabitants of India.


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