Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

By K Balaji|Updated : January 23rd, 2023

The major difference between Gandhara and Mathura School of art is that the Gandhara School of art was first formed on the western borders of Punjab, now Peshawar and Afghanistan. The Mathura School flourished on the banks of the Yamuna River between the first and third centuries B.C. Despite the fact that both schools of art appear to have developed during the Kushana era, they can be found in separate locations in Mathura and the Northwest Frontier. Let us dig deeper to understand the difference between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art. 

Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art PDF

India has a rich history of art and culture. The origin of art and craft in India can be traced back to the 3rd century BC. Two distinct art forms, Gandhara and Mathura school of art, emerged between the 1st and 3rd centuries BC. The passage below provides important details about these art forms and the difference between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art.

Table of Content

Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

Indian art and sculptures are known for their religious and spiritual dimensions that mirror the Indian soul. Gandhara and Mathura school of art has stood the test of time and still influences many artists. Therefore, we must preserve and propagate them to the future generation.

Gandhara vs Mathura School of Art

Let us check the difference between Gandhara and Mathura school of art based on various parameters mentioned in the table below.

Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

Parameters

Gandhara School of Art

Mathura School of Art

Area

Gandhara school of art flourished in Areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and present North-west India.

Mathura School of art flourished in Mathura and other areas of Uttar Pradesh.

Time Period

Gandhara art flourished between the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD.

Mathura art originated in the 1st century BC and flourished until 12th century AD.

External Influence

Greek and Roman sculptures influenced Gandhara art.

The Buddha sculptures showed Hellenistic features.

Mathura art was purely an Indian art form with no external influence.

The sculptures were based on Yaksha images discovered during the Mauryan empire.

Religious Influence

Buddhism inspired Gandhara art; hence, Lord Buddha was the central theme.

Mathura art produced sculptures relating to Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

Material Used

Gandhara sculptures were made from bluish-grey and grey sandstones.

Mathura sculptures were made from spotted red sandstone.

Description of Buddha

Gandhara Buddha sculptures were spiritual and exuded calmness.

Mathura Buddha sculptures were less spiritual.

It depicted a masculine, smiling Buddha, often seated in Padmasana.

Other Features

Gandhara images depicted longer eyes, shorter ear lobes, and sharper noses.

The eyes were partially closed in meditation.

Mathura images depicted longer ear lobes of Buddha with thick lips, wide-open eyes, and a prominent nose.

Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

In contrast to the Gandhara School, which was highly influenced by Greek techniques, the Mathura School of Art was heavily impacted by Indianism, and spirituality was absent from the sculptures. 

Despite the fact that both schools of art appear to have emerged during the time of the Kushana dynasty, they can be found in different parts of Mathura and the Northwest Frontier. We have mentioned a few important points below that describe the main features of Gandhara and Mathura art.

Gandhara School of Art

Gandhara is one of the major schools of art that flourished in India during the Kushana Empire. It peaked during Kanishka's reign, one of the greatest emperors of the Kushan Empire or dynasty, from 127 to 151 AD.

  • Gandhara school of art is best known for its fine detailing and bluish-grey colour.
  • The Gandhara art form amalgamates Greco-Roman, Indian styles, and other foreign influences.
  • The art form was closely associated with Mahayana Buddhism, and hence Lord Buddha was the central theme of the art.
  • However, images of the Greek God Apollo and other kings were also carved.
  • This art form flourished in prominent areas, including Taxila, Peshawar, Begram, and Bamiyan.

Mathura School of Art

Mathura school of art was another art form that thrived during the rule of Kushanas. It was the first art form to depict sculptures of all three religions- Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The indigenous art form carved sculptures of Buddha in a human form.

  • The Mathura school of art sculptures were gracious with sharp and beautiful features, a slim body, and several folds of transparent drapery.
  • The art flourished further during the 6th and 7th century Gupta period.

Key Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

The key difference between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art are given below.

  • The Mathura school of art was founded in the first century BC and thrived until the twelfth century AD, whereas the Gandhara school of art existed from the first century BC to the fifth century AD.
  • While the Mathura school of art emerged and thrived in Mathura and portions of Uttar Pradesh, the Gandhara school of art mostly flourished in regions of Afghanistan and modern-day North-West India.
  • Buddhism impacted the Gandhara school of art, whilst Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism influenced the Mathura school of art.
  • The biggest feature of the Gandhara Buddha is his expression of serenity, but the Mathura Buddha is joyful and reclining in Padmasana with his right hand in the Abhaya mudra and his left hand resting on his left thigh to demonstrate masculinity.
  • While the halo around the head of the Buddha in Mathura Style was richly embellished and the images are less expressive, the halo in Gandhara Style is often plain, and the figures are far more expressive.
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FAQs on Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art

  • The difference between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art in terms of external influence is that Gandhara art was influenced by Greek and Roman sculptures. On the other hand, Mathura art was purely an Indian art form with no external influence.

  • The Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art is that Gandhara sculptures were made from bluish-grey and grey sandstones, whereas Mathura art was made from spotted red sandstone.

  • The Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art based on the image of Buddha is that Gandhara sculptures depict a spiritual Buddha. However, Buddha in Mathura art is less spiritual, more masculine, and mostly smiling.

  • The Gandhara School of art developed under the rule of the Kushan emperor Kanishka. Both the Kushanas and the Shakas supported the Gandhara School, which is known for the first representations of the Lord Buddha in human form in sculpture.

  • A few notable features of the Gandhara and Mathura school of art were observed. The eyes of the sculptures were half closed in Gandhara art, while the eyes of the sculptures were open in Mathura art.

  • The Difference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art regarding religious influence is that Buddhism inspired Gandhara art, whereas Mathura school of art was inspired by all three religions - Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

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