Gupta artistic tradition in the reign of Kumaragupta I Mahendraditya, 414-456 A.D.
By Trudy Jacobsen
Access History, Vol. 2:1 (1999)
Introduction: The freshness and vitality of classical Indian art and architecture are due in no small measure to the reign of the Gupta dynasty (200-600 AD). Under these benevolent kings India’s artists and architects found creative freedom within religious tradition, resulting in some of the most beautiful art that ever testified to the glory of the divine. It is in the reign of Kumāragupta I Mahendrāditya (414-456 AD) that the essence of Gupta art reached its pinnacle. Architectural mores were revised and expanded to create the classic form of Temple 17 and the richly decorated Daśāvatāra temple at Deogaŗh. Sculpture in stone and terracotta media found a new quality of expression, conveying a real sense of introspection and serenity in Buddha figures such as those from Mathurā and Sarnāth, and a sophisticated interpretation of complicated Brahmanical subjects. The architecture, sculpture, coins and pillars of Kumāragupta I’s reign all bear witness to the exceptional standard aspired to and maintained by the creative community under his rule.