The art of sculpture which made much progress during the Gupta period started declining during the subsequent centuries. However, in the 7th and 8th centuries, it again started appearing with a new original spirit specially in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Central India and certain states of Himalyan tracts.

The artists pro­duced large number of images of gods and goddesses as well as human figures. The most important images turned out by the artists were those of Vishnu, Surya, Uma, Maheshwara, Buddha, Mahavira and other Jain Tirthankars. In these works these artists displayed great creative genius.

Some of these images were really of high artistic standard. In addition to the human images and the images of gods and goddesses, the artists also depicted certain histo­rical or semi-historical scenes. They showed the ladies in variety of poses and attitudes, domestic scenes of daily life, array of warriors, drummers etc. In fact they covered so many aspects that it is not possible to give complete details of all of them.

With the arrival of the Muslims the art of sculpture started declining due to lack of patronage and opportunities of self expression. No doubt, in certain regions like Orissa, South India etc. the classi­cal tradition of sculpture continued but it lest most of its originality and freshness.


As the Muslims were iconoclasts very few specimens of Indian sculpture are available. Only certain pieces of Indian sculpture of the 10th and 11th centuries are found at Mathura, Mirzapur and Sarnath. The best specimens of the sculpture of that period are found in the Brahmanical and Jain temples at Khajuraho. The figures of human beings and animals are full and roundly modelled.

The outlines are deep and sharp. The treatment of the plastic volume is generally tight and skilled, and there is a conscious intensity of movement and emotion. In certain are like Rajasthan sculpture art continued with great vigour and out­standing pieces of sculpture were turned out.

The most important places in Rajasthan where sculptural activity continued to be in progress were Vasantgarh, Devangarh, Palta, Osian, Dilwara, Chittor, Mandor etc.

The temples at Mt. Abu built about 1239 A.D. betray medieval sculptural characterstics. Some of these characterstics continued to persist till the 19th century A D. In Punjab also the impact of the northern Indian life and culture is visible.


In Chamba, Kangra, Kulu, and Kumaon certain images and decorative patterns were carried out on temple which are still an object of admiration. Similarly, outstanding sculptural pieces have been found at Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet which show the deep influence of the Gandhara school of architecture.

In the South also the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, Yadavas and Naiks of Madura continued to patronise sculpture on temples. These sculptures were carried out in the classical tradition and possess a fresh­ness and vitality.

During the subsequent centuries no doubt, the art became hardened in surface but it still retained integrity and creativeness. The stone sculptures of the 14th and 15th centuries in Vijaynagar show sharp angular movements, as in Kathakali dance. These sculptures also depict various forms of life and activity and are important pieces of art.

The spread of the Muslim power in India gave a set back to the sculpture. According to the Muslim law it is sinful to produce the images of living human and even more sinful to have those of the Almighty. Hence the Muslim invaders considered it their religious duty to forbid making of images of gods, goddesses, human beings or animals. They resorted to large scale destruction of the images and sculptural representation.


As a result most of the sculpture pieces of the time were destroyed and only such sculptural pieces could survive which were buried underground or taken or inaccessible places. In short we can say that the art of sculpture suffered maximum at the hands of Muslims during the medieval times.

With the coming of Akbar into power, the art of sculpture once again received encouragement. Akbar was rot a fanatic and permitted the making of stone images. He was so much impressed by the bravery of two Rajput soldiers, Jaimal and Fatta in defending Chittor that he ordered the artists to prepare statues of these two heroes and put them on the main gate of Agra Fort.

Jahangir also got built similar statues of Rana Amar Singh and his son, Prince Karan of Udaipur and set them in the garden of Agra Fort. During the regime of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb the art of sculpture once again declined due to lack of patronage and support and slowly died out.

However the Mughal rulers gave encouragement to new branch of sculpture, viz. ivory carving. Mughal rulers encouraged artists to produce miniatures in ivory and outstanding pieces of ivory sculptures were produced under their patronage.

The chief centres of ivory industry were Agra, Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur. Even after the decline of the Mughal Empire, this industry continued to nourish. It may be noted that this art also flourished mainly daring the times of Akbar and Jahangir but during the orthodox rule of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb it suffered a set back.