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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Mathura school was a great centre of art and sculptures during the early historic period. How did it differ from the Gandhara school? (150 words)

    05 Oct, 2020 GS Paper 1 Indian Heritage & Culture


    • Start with writing a few introductory lines about Mathura and Gandhara school of art.
    • Differentiate between the two schools of art.
    • Conclude by summarising your answer.


    • The first century CE onwards, Gandhara (now in Pakistan) and Mathura in northern India emerged as important centres of art production.
    • Buddha in the symbolic form got a human form in Mathura and Gandhara. The sculptural tradition in Gandhara had the confluence of Bactria, Parthia and the local Gandhara tradition.
    • The local sculptural tradition at Mathura became so strong that the tradition spread to other parts of northern India.
      • The best example in this regard is the stupa sculptures found at Sanghol in the Punjab.
      • The Buddha image at Mathura is modelled on the lines of earlier Yaksha images whereas in Gandhara it has Hellenistic features.


    • Difference between Mathura and Gandhara school of art
      • Area: The Gandhara school of art mostly flourished in areas of Afghanistan and present North-west India whereas Mathura school of art developed and flourished in Mathura and areas of Uttar Pradesh.
      • Time period: The Gandhara school of art flourished from first century BC to fifth century AD whereas the Mathura school of art originated in the first century BC and flourished till twelfth century AD.
      • External influence: Gandhara school of art was influenced by Greek and possibly Macedonians whereas Mathura school of art was purely indigenous with no external influence.
      • Religious influence: Gandhara school of art was influenced by Buddhism while Mathura school of art was Influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
      • Material used: Gandhara school of art used bluish Grey and grey sandstone whereas Mathura school of art used spotted red sandstone.
      • Expression: The expression of calmness is the centre point of attraction of Gandhara Buddha whereas Mathura Buddha is delighted in mood, seated in Padmasana and right hand in Abhyamudra and left hand on left thigh showing masculinity.
      • Halo: The Halo around the head of Buddha was not decorated generally in Gandhara school of art while it was largely decorated in Mathura school of art.


    • The other two famous schools were Amaravati School and Sarnath School of art. All these art schools were mostly inspired by religion and have left behind a rich heritage.
    • The Art of India constitutes a unique chapter in the history of human endeavour. It unveils the deepest recesses of the human mind and offers a mirror to the Indian soul. The spiritual and religious dimensions of India’s creative genius has found full and perfect expression in the myriad aesthetic creations.

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