Indian art and architecture: Post-Indus Civilization through the Maurya Dynasty

Of the period from the end of the Indus civilization (c.1500 BC) until Alexander the Great crossed (325 BC) the Indus, few traces remain. However, the principles of Indian architecture were developed in wooden buildings, long since disintegrated.

From the great Maurya dynasty the most famous remains are the edict pillars, erected throughout N India by the Emperor Aśoka to proclaim his devotion to Buddhism. The monolithic, smooth columns are over 50 ft (15 m) high and are surmounted by lotus capitals and animal figures. Some of the pillar capitals reveal forms that suggest Persepolitan influences. Also dating from the reign of Aśoka is the earliest stone ogival chaitya window, found on the portal of a small rock-cut sanctuary near Bodh Gaya. The chaitya halls were monastic sanctuaries hewn out of rock. As they evolved, from the 3d cent. BC through the 1st millennium AD, they became elaborate colonnaded halls, or walls embellished with painting or sculpture.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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