This gallery displays the sculptural pieces and architectural fragments belonging predominantly to the early medieval period (7-8th to 13-14th AD) of Jharkhand. However, a few of these have been brought from outside the state and belong to the modern period. The gallery largely demonstrates the creative expression and architecture in historical perspective. The scriptural pieces related to all the three dominant religious strands - Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism- are displayed in the gallery. Of the Hindu image, those belonging to Surya and Vishnu are of special iconographic interest. While the uniqueness of a couple of Surya images lies in their depiction along with other eight planets of the `Navgraha' concept, the independent icon of the Kurmavatara (the tortoise incarnation). and the shaiva images-one bifacial sculpture depicting Uma-Maheshwara (Shiva with his consort Parvati) on the one side and Kuber (the god of wealth) on the other, are outstanding. Of the Shakti icons, one damaged but still fabulous image of the Mahishasuramardani is very special. The images of Shantinatha and Rishabhnatha are important Jain images. But of much greater charm are the Jain images depicting the Yaksha - Yakshani couple. Of the Buddhist images, the standing Buddha and seated Tara and Avalokiteshvara are important ones.
In addition to the sculptures, the gallery also contains several architectural members, such as pillar fragments, the decorative panels, door jambs etc. bearing fine carving and iconographic depictions. The oft-occurred iconographic subjects include the Dhyani Buddha, Sahasra Buddha, Dashavatara, Navgrahas and Saptamatrikas.
The image of Surya (Sun) is extraordinary beautiful and charming. It is carved in classical Pala style. It belongs to the 11th -12th century AD.What is especially significant about this image is that the other eight planets of Navgraha group are also depicted. Sculpture witnessed amazing development in the hands of the Palas.
The main feature of Pala sculptures is their free flowing movement. Almost all the figures are of similar sizes and were carved out of grayish or white spotted sandstone.It is believed that these are unique creations by the Bengal sculptors and still stand as one of the key features of the Pala sculpture. Apart from the religious aspect these sculptural plaques also act as evidence of the social history. Artistic specimens from this age are to be found all over Bengal and Bihar. Besides having been found in Bengal other Pala sculptures have been discovered at Nalanda, Kurkihar, Bodh Gaya, and Magadha. Some of the important monuments belonging to this age are the Somapura Vihara and Vikramasila Vihara.
The features of the early Pala sculptures differed greatly from the latter ones. This style began as an untainted reflection of religion on stone. As a result the earliest Pala sculptures have less ornament and are easily moveable. But the later 10th sculptures are heavily bejeweled and the background of the images are intricately designed. In the 11th century more changes seeped in when more stress was given to the vegetal decoration of the back slab, the main deities were adorned with jewelleries and the artists paid heed to the most trifle details.
This is another important and elegant piece of sculpture on display in this gallery. Among the most exquisitely carved objects from South Asia is a group of miniature Pala-style (ca. 700-1200) sculptures in one of two types of materials-an extremely fine-grained yellow-beige stone, known as argillite (which can take several forms, such as pyrophyllite or kaolinite) or an extremely fine-grained black or dark brown phyllite. Most portray Esoteric Buddhist deities; however, a few, such as this example, represent Hindu divinities. Durga is portrayed as the armed slayer of a buffalo in-habited by the fierce demon Mahisha. A threat to the world, Mahisha was invincible. Even the Hindu gods who had challenged him could not kill him. In desperation they created the goddess Durga to be their champion and gave her their weapons. Mahisha, in the form of a tiny, chubby man, his head backed by snake heads, emerges from the buf-falo's decapitated body and looks up admiringly at the warlike but beauti-ful Durga even as his toes are being bitten by her lion.
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Durga's victory over Mahisha is celebrated in India each year in the important festival of DurgaPuja. Large clay images of the goddess and the demon are made for the duration of the festival, at the end of which they are immersed in ponds or rivers.
A large number of sculptures depicting the horse-riding god Revanta, one of the sons of Surya, are known from different regions of northern India.
The State Museum is among the ones, having the sculpture of Revanta. The sculpture shows the god as the only equestrian figure of composition, always in profile, riding toward left. He is accompanied by several smaller attendant figures walling beside him, one of whom usually holds an um-brella above the head of Revanta.One of the several dogs or other animals, especially boars would be seen at the bottom, indicating that the whole scene represents a hunting party.
This image of Yaksh-Yakshini can be related to the Jain tradition of iconography where both of the Yaksha couple carry a child in the left hand and the flower in the right hand. A tree has been engraved in the background with an elephant over it. This is made up of brown sandstone. It belongs to the 12th Century AD. Yaksha is found on the right side of the sculpture while Yakshini on the left side. The Yaksha and the Yakshini represent mythical beings attendant on Kuber, the God of Wealth. They are alluded to as guardians of wealth in literature. The earlier scriptures like the Sthananga-sutra, Uttaradhyayan-sutra, Bhagawati-sutra, Tattvartha-sutra, Antagadadasao-sutra, and Pauma-chariya have frequent references to Yakshas and Yakshinis. Many Jains pay their respect to these Yakshas and Yakshinis for having them provided protection to Tirthankars and to the existence of Jainism.
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Yakshinis are mythical beings of Hindu, Bud-dhist, and Jain mythol-ogies. Yakshini are the females of the Yaksha race. Yakshinis are usually benevolent, but there are also yakshinis with malevolent charac-teristics in Indian folk-lore.
This standing image of the Buddha is carved out of grey sandstone and • belongs to 11th century AD. The style is Pala in character.On the stele behind, the aura of the Buddha is depicted. A stupa is depicted to its left.
The first Buddha statues were produced in about the 1st or 2nd century AD in Bactria (Afghanistan and northern Pakistan) perhaps as a result of Greek influence, and in Mathura. There is no standard way of represent-ing the Buddha which may differ according to the artistic inspiration, the tastes or the iconographical canons of the different cultures in which they are produced. Some features however are common to most statues. The hands of the Buddha statues are shown in different gestures (mudra), each indicative of important things the Buddha did and which we should also do.
The hands nestled in the lap suggest meditation, held in front of the chest suggest teaching the Dhamma, one hand held up with the palm facing outwards suggests the giving of confidence or fearlessness. The ear lobes of the Buddha statues are nearly always shown elongated, this is indicative of renunciation in that while a layman, the Buddha wore large ear plugs which he stopped wearing when he became a monk, but which left his ear lobes stretched.
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A casket — unearthed in 1958 by archaeolo-gist A. S. Altekar at the Relic Stupa of Vaishali — is said to contain the sacred ashes (relics) of Gautama Buddha.