Indus Valley sculptures played an important role in India history. The features of Indus Valley were different from the later ages. Sculptures found during the ancient age were the most primitive types in which statues and figures were grounded on stone or bronze.
The popular terra-cotta seals, discovered from the valley divulge the ancient style of sculpture in the form of carvings of leaves, deities and animals worshiped in that period.
Excavations from the ruins of the Indus valley reflect the talent of the artists at that time, in fact Mohenjo-daro and Harappa are the earliest known instances of sculpture in the world.
Indian Sculptures got modified in the Mauryan Period of Ancient Age during the reign of Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C. Ashoka was impressed by the ideologies of Buddhism. It was his initiative that some Indian sculptures were carved out.
He built a large number of stupas with the inscriptions of Buddhism teaching. The Grand Stupa- Dharmarajika Stupa, is the oldest stupa built by the great Ashoka for lord Buddha at Sarnath.
It is now considered to be the most important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. The Ashokan Pillar at Sarnath, Amaravathi in Andhra Pradesh, Nagarjunakonda, Jaggayapetta and Ghantasala in South India reveals the aristocratic nature of Mauryan art.
Overview of The Great Stupa:
Stupa is a solid dome shaped hemispherical monument which was used as commemorative monument for storing sacred remains of the Buddhist monks and teachers.
Stupas were made of stone with the boundary (vedika) surrounding it, carved with four gateways facing all the four direction. This site at Sanchi includes the remains of smaller Stupas and Pillars.
The style of sculpture entirely changed from initial few centuries. There is a drastic change in the style occurring from grounding of human figure to the symbolic representation of Buddha and his teaching.
Lord Buddha was clearly depicted by the artists of that time in the form of statues in the 5th century A.D. The other best illustration of Buddhist Sculpture is also found in the famous Ajanta caves.