During the Gupta period the Buddhist sculptural art reached its zenith andhis standing images not only largely captured the art scenario and came outwith a tremendous variety of themes and styles but also excelled in theirplasticity, modeling and over-all excellence. Now besides the stone, metalwas another popular medium for these votive images. Devotees needed smallerand lighter images for personal shrines and sometimes to carry them from oneplace to the other. There also developed the fashion of gifting Buddha'sstatues. Obviously, being massive and heavy, the stone sculptures could suita monastery or shrine but not the other purposes. Metal casts better suitedfor such subsidiary purposes and hence by the middle of the Gupta periodmetal images were as much in vogue. Some of the earliest images of Buddhadepicting him in standing postures, recovered from various parts of northernIndia, especially Govind Nagar (Mathura), Dhanesar Khera, Phophnar, Ramtek,Sarnath, Nalanda etceteras, now in the collections of various museums of theworld, define the golden era of India's sculptural art and metal cast.Buddha's standing icons, by the movement of his legs, represented himtraveling, by the gesture of his fingers, teaching, by the demeanour of hispalm, imparting abhaya and the like. This image depicts him in the teachingmode.
This brass statue, a great work of art, takes the viewing eye back to the5th -6th century classical India when under the Gupta rulers her artwitnessed its all time heights and glory. It has on its face the same kindof serenity and benevolent composure as have Buddha's images sculpted duringgreat Guptas. It seems to derive its plasticity and sensuousness from theMathura art and its elegance and linear rhythm from the art cult ofAmaravati, though in its spiritual vision it is stronger and in itsaesthetics it has greater heights. This image depicts a unique synthesis ofthe thought and art, of the inner substance and the outer form and of adisciplined body and conquered mind. The body glows with the sap of life,the face with the subtle spiritual perception and the eye, with theirdrooping eyelids, look within. A refined sensitivity and luminosity definethis bronze cast. Its webbed fingers, except the two forwarded in thegesture of explaining something, and ridged drapery folds, except its lowerpart, which has been substituted by a self designing character, arecharacteristic features of Mathura Buddha. The child-like face withcelestial innocence enshrining it is typical of early Nepal art. The imageis simply remarkable in its fine proportions, delicate treatment of thefigure and the benign expression on the face. The treatment of garment isunique. The two ends, falling from the held out hands, form symmetricalpairs of wavy lines. The folds, from the neck to below the waist, areindicated by thin undulating semi-circular lines, which curve into angles inbetween the thighs. The lower part does not have ripples like the upper partbut has faint but elaborate floral designing pattern. Its end part frillslike the feathers of a bird. The image proper stands installed on a pedestalconsisting of a lotus with multiple petals.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializeson the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chiefcurator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, NewDelhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art andculture.