Salient Features of Pala Art

By Mayank Yadav|Updated : May 13th, 2021

In this article we are going to have a brief discussion about Salient Features of Pala Art. Pala art is one of the famous art style in Bihar art and culture. There are lot of questions asked from this section in Bihar state exams, so you should not miss this topic as well. Have a good day!!

Salient Features of Pala Art

The founder of the Pala dynasty was Gopala who extended his rule in Bihar as well, during the long tenure of the Palas, peace & prosperity continued, resulting in progress in all fields of art. Remains of Pala art are found in abundance in Bihar.

The important features of Pala art were:

Sculpture: Between the 8th century and 12th century, a prolific and vigorous school of stone and bronze sculpture flourished in Bihar. Bihar also developed a distinctive school of manuscript painting. Bronze-casting was an important feature of Pala sculpture.

Taranath names two artists, father and son, Dhiman and Vithapal, as being the founder of schools of cast metal images, sculpture and painting in eastern India in the ninth century during the reigns of Dharmapala and Devapala. The stone sculpture mostly of black basalt, of this schools is characterized by stylish elegance, technical precision and a harsh outline skin to metal work.The Buddhist sculpture of the Pala schools is characterized by a prominent and elaborately carved back-slab and lotus-seat, frequently supported by lions. The Buddhist formula, which is a cult object with a fixed canonical form and esoteric symbolism, is usually engraved on some portion of the image.

The Pala school also produced a Brahmanical sculpture which shared its developed iconography and other characteristics. Of the various forms of Shaiva icons fashioned by this school, Maheshvaras, inspired by Tantrikism, was even more popular than Ganesha.

Largest number of sculpture of this school have been found at the monastic sites of Nalanda, Biharshrif, Ghosranwan, Rajgir, Bodh Gaya etc.

Building art : Pala architecture buildings were mainly based on brick. Evidence of these is Odantpuri, Nalanda and Vikramshila Mahavihara. A Mahavihara and monastery was built at Odantpuri by the Pala ruler Gopal, but its remains have not been preserved. Temples, stupas and Viharas were built in Nalanda. Dharmapala renovated the Nalanda University in Bhagalpur, which later emerged as the second most famous university after Nalanda.

Clay Art (Terracotta Figures): During the rule of Pala, beautiful and artistic clay images from the Buddha period is found. Some important specimens have been found from the ruins of Vikramshila University. These terracotta plaques were used to decorate walls. We find religious as well as common styles in this Art.

Painting: Painting was well developed during Pala period. These are available in two forms: Manuscripts and Wall Painting

Manuscripts was written on palm leaves. The best example of wall painting are Ashta-Sahsarik, Praghyaparmit and Panchraksh. These are preserved in the Cambridge University. Delicate and nervous lines, sensuous beauty, linear and decorative accent, and technical ability are all hallmarks of the Pala school of painting.. This school perpetuates the tradition of Ajanta paintings with sensuous bias of art of Eastern India.

Murals: Mural is also a form of painting. It has been found at Sarai Sthal at Nalanda. At the bottom of a platform made of granite stone we can find flowers of geometrical shapes, images of animals and humans. These images have faded now, yet certain images like that of elephants, horses, dancers etc can be noticed.

Architecture:   Pala rulers contributed substantially in making architecture as well. Its evidence can be found Odantpuri, Nalanda and Vikramshila. The ruins of Oduntpuri are not preserved, but temples, stupas and viharas of different periods can be seen at Nalanda. Planned residential building for monks was made.

The ruins of Vikramshila University clearly depict the architecture of Pala period. Ruins of a temple and stupa have been found here. Both are made of bricks. It has a huges sculpture of Buddha made of stone and clay.

Thre is an interesting rock-cut rock-cut temple at Kahalgaon, Bhagalpur district, dating from ninth century, which shows the gabled vaulted roof characteristics of the South Indian architecture.

The brick-built medieval Shiva temple at Konch in the Gaya district is architecturally important on account of its curvilinear Sikhara and corbelled lancet window.

So. We find that during Pala period, sculpture, architecture, painting etc all were well developed.

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Mayank YadavMayank YadavMember since Mar 2021
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