With reference to the Mauryan era art, what do you understand by the Court art and the Popular Art? Discuss with examples.

Court Art got the patronage of the royalty and largely included royal buildings, pillars, rock cut architectures, sculptures and stupas.
On the other hand, popular art included stone sculptures, terracotta art and ring stones and disc stones.
During the Mauryan era, excellent stone sculpture came into full being all at once. Stone was now used all over the country for sculpture as well as architecture. Further, bright polish was imparted to the stone surface during Maurya era. Mauryan art is notable for bright mirror like polish as well as a huge variety of its creations. This art is visible in stone pillars, railings, parasols, capitals, animal and human sculptures and several other motifs besides.
However, the best specimens of Maurya court art are the huge number of monolithic columns with their majestic animal capitals. Stone pillars were erected all over the Mauryan Empire with inscriptions engraved on them. The top portion of the pillar was carved with capital figures such as bull, the lion, the elephant, etc. Every capital figure stands on a square or circular abacus. The abacuses have been decorated by stylized lotuses.
The important places where the pillars have been found are Basarah-Bakhira, Lauriya- Nandangarh, Rampurva, Sankisa and Sarnath.
The most important function of the Mauryan pillars was to impress and over-awe the populace withthe power and majesty of its rulers.
Whereas, popular art in Mauryan period is represented by images of Yakshas and Yakshinis. Yaksha refer to the nature-spirits, usually benevolent also known as fertility spirits. A yakshini is the female counterpart of the male Yaksha. Both Yaksha and Yakshini attend to Kubera, the Hindu god ofwealth who rules in the mythical Himalayan kingdom of Alaka.

  • Yakshas and Yakshinis are the caretakers of the natural treasures.
  • Didarganj Yakshini is one of the finest examples of popular Mauryan art.

Thus, a difference can be noticed between both these art forms. Court art catered to royalty and popular art catered to masses.

Question for UPSC Mains:
With reference to the Mauryan era art, what do you understand by the Court art and the Popular Art? Discuss with examples.

Published: May 1, 2016 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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