Terracotta Art in Gupta Period

Published: May 1, 2016

Terracottas form another important branch of the Gupta art. In this modest medium, gifted clay-modellers created things of real beauty and achieved a wide popular basis for their art. Clay figurines served as poor man’s sculpture and contributed largely to popularise art and culture.
The terracotta figures may be classified under two heads, (a) gods and goddesses, (b) male and female figures.
Gods and Goddesses
Most of the Hindu deities are represented in the terracotta of the age; the figures of Vishnu, Kartikeya, Surya, Durga, Ganga and Yamuna have been found all over the Gangetic plain. Some of these as those of Ganga and Yamuna from the terraced brick temple at Ahichchhatra, are almost life-size; their baking must have presented a difficult technical problem, tackled with success by the expert potters of the age.
Male and female figures
The group of detached male and female figures shows a great variety of forms, including representation of aristocratic men and women, figures of foreigners from Persia and Central Asia and ordinary figures of attendants of all classes as grooms and elephant riders, jesters and dwarfs, etc.  The group of heads made of fine, well baked clay originally belong to smaller plaques that were completely pressed out of moulds. The faces, combining elegance of features with gorgeous coiffure, constitute a veritable gallery for the study of beautiful types in that art inspired age.
The terracotta figurines from the excavations at Rajghat and Ahichchhatra present a feast of beauty to the eye and best female heads skilfully finished appear remarkable firstly, for the pleasing variety of coiffure, and secondly, for paintings in lines and colours still preserved in some of them. The colours usually used were red, pink, yellow and white. Finally, it may be observed that much of the terracotta work in imbued with the spirit of the art prevailing at the time

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