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The Museum has got in its collection some very excellent examples of terracotta heads from Akhnur near Jammu , Ushkar in Kashmir and also some figurines from Sugh in Haryana. Recently some sculptures from Sanghol in Punjab and from different sites in Haryana have also been added to the display of the Museum.

Ancient Indian Sculptures Section

The discovery of 117 Kushana sculptures at Sanghol (District Fatehgarh, Punjab) is historic in the sense that it is for the first time that Kushana sculptures in such a large number and of such artistic magnitude, belonging to the Mathura School (1st -2nd century A.D.) have been found outside Mathura region. These are nearly 2000 years old, belonging to the period when there was a great flowering of the Indian culture in its various manifestations. Delicately carved out of fine grained red mottled sandstone from the Rupbas outcrops, sculptures belonged to a low railing running around the stupa. The crossbars represent rosettes and lotiform designs. Pillars represent the female figures in the form of women and tree motif or depiction of the concept of the Mother and child. In former category, females are shown as standing on dwarfish or grotesque figures and as holding the branch of a tree overhead (shalabhanjika). Few representations show females either engaged in personal decoration or carrying trays and vessels meant for toiletry. Sanghol represents formative phase of sculptural art.

Yakshi, Kushana period,
Stone, c 2nd century A.D.,
Collection Sanghol site museum,
Sanghol, Punjab
Click to enlarge
Lady playing with a child, Kushana period,
c 2nd century A.D., Stone,
Collection Sanghol site museum,
Sanghol, Punjab
Click to enlarge

The terra-cotta figurines here displayed come from two sites in Kashmir : a large ruined monastery at Ushkar (the ancient Huvishkapura) near Baramula, founded by King Lalitaditya Muktapida II between 700 and 732 A.D., and from the neighbourhood of Akhnur in Jammu, where there must have been a similar monastery but of which nothing now remains except a few brickbats and fragments of terra-cottas. Altogether 36 heads are known, the majority of them purchased by the former Central Museum, Lahore.

Lady with an angry frown, terracotta,
c 4th-5th century A. D. Akhnur
Click to enlarge
Girl's head , terracotta,
c 5th-6th century A. D. Akhnur
Click to enlarge

The style is a baroque style, with a wide variety and individualism in the faces, lavish attention to head-dress, rich ornamentation, plenty of jewellery. Buddha-heads appear for the first time with coronets and a necklace : the baroque artist loved ornamentation so much that he could not bear any figure without jewellery.
Here and there the last, minimal traces of Hellenistic elements can be discovered, and these at a time when Hellenicism was dead everywhere in Europe and Asia. It is very likely that this school was founded by artisans who had worked formerly at Taxila, one of the chief sites of Gandhara art, where artistic activity declined around 700 A.D., and from where artisans could well have flocked to Kashmir through the short route of the Pir Panjal range to Baramula, about three days’ walk, and taken service with a king famed for his generosity.

Girl's head, terracotta,
c 5th-6th century A.D., Ushkar
Click to enlarge
Buddha Head, terracotta,
c 4th-5th century A.D., Akhnur
Click to enlarge

Terra-cotta was much used in Kashmir as far back as the 2nd to 4th century A.D. (Kushana period), at a site called Harwan (a contraction of ”Shad-arhad-vana”, ”The Grove of the Six Arhats” or Buddhist saints, north of Srinagar). But those are pre-classic in style, whereas the Akhnur and Baramula terra-cottas are highly sensitive and lovely works of the baroque period.
(Dr. Charles Fabri May 6, 1968 )

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