Indian Bronze Sculptures

Published: 16th June 2011
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From the 17th century & onwards, south India has images that are made of various gods and goddesses, of saints and deified mortalsfrom the Bronze metal. The sculpture of Bronzes immensely radiates a sense of immortality and powerfully reflects the fascination and mystery about the ancient cultures of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. These art works are a visual interpretations of celestial beings, illustrate about the human condition of transcendence through which he led to spiritual enlightenment. Some of the features of the Bronze sculpture are closely linked with the regional basis. Some of the characteristics of Bronzes sculptures that are found commonly, can be marked on the basis of geographical division, such as:

Western Indian Bronze: The metal sculpture flourished in this region of Gujarat and Rajasthan from the 6th-12th century. Most of the Bronze sculptures from this side are associated with Jainism, including the savior figures of Mahavira and many ritual objects such as incense burners and lamp bearers. Made with using lost-wax casting method, the eyes and ornaments of the statue were frequently inlaid with silver and gold metal, to add look in it.

Eastern Indian Bronze: The metal sculpture flourished in the states of modern Bihar and West Bengal from the 9th century. Most of these metal sculptures were made from alloys of the eight metals; the bronze sculptures were produced by lost-wax casting only. These mainly represent various divinities such as Shiva, Vishnu. Most of the sculptures were produced in the great Buddhist monasteries and distributed throughout South Asia, from this region.

South Indian Bronze: The metal sculpture flourished in the districts of Thanjavur and Tiruchchirappalli in Tamil Nadu from the 8th-16th century. These artworks in Bronze were ranging from small household images to almost life-size sculptures intended to be carried in temple. These included the figures of Hindu divinities, especially in the various iconographic forms of the god Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

Bronze is of exceptional historical interest and still used widely for various applications. It was prepared before 3000 BC, for making statues, coins and other decorative articles. Later, the bronze sculpture continued through the 10th and 11th centuries in many countries including India. 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 Mohanjodaro. The stone sculptures and the 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 deities 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, old ones renovated with additional beauty and grand festivals were organized.

The Chola-period bronzes have their figures depicting sensuous and detailed clothing and jewelry. The art works of this period are famous for their subtle modeling and clear outline marked on the form, as well as for maintaining a ideal balance of graceful realism and heroic classicism. During Chola-period, Bronzes made images were created with using the Lost wax technique.

From this period only, many fine figures made from Bronze, an alloy of copper are famous - it contains Shiva in various forms, such as Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, and the Shiva saints. The sculptors in the 11th and the 12th centuries worked in real sense to achieve classic quality. The best example of this is the form of Nataraja, the Lord of the dance is a creation of this period.

Unique Bronzes sculpture were originally produced to achieve a spiritual experience, but they are conveying a deeper meaning beyond the physical sculpture itself. Any goddess that was presented in Bronze sculpture signified the belief of people that was resulted from a cultural set up of the society. For example: Indian Bronze figure of Kali represents the embodiment of the force of destruction. But the Goddess Kali also has a manifestation or another form of Devi as a consort of Shiva, known as Parvati. So, Bronze sculptures Showing Shiva & Parvati together are found but with it two forms of Kali are also sculptured in a single sculpture gives the idea of cultural context of presenting gods in India.

In carving various images the sculptors concentrated more on its aesthetic impact, than creating sculptures of skillful presentation. Even the Indus valley sculptures gain significant attention when aesthetic values are concerned. From many sculptures that are discovered from this place, the most remarkable is the statue of the dancing girl in Bronze, since it illustrates the details that were achieved through it, when considered as a whole. She is shown as nude with erect posture placing her right hand on her hip and both her legs are bent at the knee point as if she is dancing. A trefoil necklace and the bangles worn in her left arm are carved beautifully. Available to us from centuries, the Bronze temple images seem to have been cast specially for eternity. And these Bronze sculptures are an important and worthy representation of the Asian sacred culture, showing its glorious past.

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