Posted on: 22 October 2015

Digital Rare Book:
Amaravati Sculptures In The Madras Government Museum
By Calambur Sivaramamurti
Published by The Superintendent, Government Press, Madras - 1956

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Amaravati Sculptures (2nd Century BC to 2nd Century AD)

The collection of the early Buddhist sculptures in the Chennai Government Museum includes the large group of sculptures received from the ruined stupa at Amaravati in the Krishna valley in the Andhra country wherein an excavation was conducted in the 1801 and later.Colonel.Colin Mackenzie of the Trigonometrical Survey of India first heard of the mound in the area and visited the site and found it was very interesting as it had specimens of early Christian era art. Then he drew sketches of the site and left. Later in 1830 some of the sculptured slabs were brought to Masulipatnam to beautify a square named after Robertson, the District Collector. During the course of his visit to this place in 1835, Sir Frederick Adam, Governor of Madras, saw the slabs and ordered that these to be sent to Madras for preservation in the Museum of the Madras Literary Society. Dr.Balfour, soon after taking charge of the Madras Central Museum, began his efforts in getting the aforesaid slabs and the first batch arrived here in 1856. Other batches of sculptures were secured during Dr.Bidie's time and they were set up in their present location in the Museum. On the question of the arrangement and display of these Amaravati marbles in the Madras Museum in 1884-85, Dr.Bidie had to cross swords with no less a person than Burgess of the Archaeological Department of the Government of India, but while the distinguished archaeologist demonstrated more of dogmatism and heat, Dr.Bidie showed himself that he was the master of the situation and what he did was only practicable way of dealing with the sculptures. The reader should visualise the great Amaravati Stupa, a poetry in marble, the ninety feet high marble-encased cupola surmounted by big stone umbrellas, the series of tall slender marble columns on the platforms marking four cardinal points, the four festooned gateways flanked by lion-topped columns and the fourteen feet high, sculptured railing round the stupa, all of which, together, must have been a sight of glory! There are four periods of sculptures in the Amaravati group of sculptures.

Image and text credit: Chennai Government Museum

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Indologists consider the Bharut and Amaravathi sculptures are "finest examples" of early Buddhist art. We are taught buddhist art using these Amaravathi sculptures as examples.

WOW! This is one of the most interesting books I have read on Buddhist art. It all also so simply explained, the origins of stupas, architecture, buddhist concepts.... overall a very interesting read from an academic perspective


Joydeb Kar pls watch this sculptur..

I hope this isn't another exhibit that ended up at the Met museum in NYC ?

Thank you



From India???

Chennai Government Museum

absolutely fabulous

Fantastic piece of artistry

Thanks for the book.

I'm sharing an album with the pictures from the Amaravati gallery, Chennai museum. Given the poor lighting, I was only able to get sub-par image quality. Nevertheless.., hope this album will give you a glimpse of the wonders of Amaravati. Fell free to download and share the images.

The other half of the Amaravati Stupa steles and pillars are in the British Museum now. Bharhut Sculptures from the Stupa railings of the Bharhut Stupa are now in the Indian Museum, Kolkata. The other half is in the sea, off Sri Lanka. It was on its way to London when the ship sank off the coast of Sri Lanka.