Edicts & Pillars

The advent of stone architecture in India is attributed to Ashok (BC 265-228) Ashoka was responsible two significant things: 1. Spread of Buddhism 2. Building an architectural language with stone as the primary material. Buddhism <> Stone

What led to the change from wooden architecture to stone architecture? Wood: (-) Perishable (+) Better material (+) Since can be easily cut, shaped (structurally and ornamentally) (+) Allows larger spans. Consequence of India’s contact with western world: 1. Through Alexander’s invasion 2. Establishment of Baktrian kindgom in its proximity to Indus river.

Before Buddhism
Aryans who were dominant before the rise of Buddhism wrote book and expressed through words. They had not developed a language of aesthetic arts and architecture to express splendour and durabilty.

Mauryan Dynasty
Became the first to bring all the settlements under one rule. This marked a great cultural progress. •impetus to the art of building > royal patronage. •Capital Patliputra was formed. •Narrow parallelogram > 9 miles long – 1.5 miles wide •Ranged along banks of Ganges like an immense castellated breakwater •Surrounded by timber palisade with loopholes for archers and surrounded my deep-wide moat •At intervals were bastions with towers > 500 in number •64 entrance gates •Encompassed the royal palace > unprecedented spacious and elaborate edifice Other ornamental features: •Hypostyle halls with wooden pillars > designs of vines and birds embossed in gold and silver (Hypostyle walls had long been a feature of Persian palaces) These indicate that Mauryan Dynasty was beginning to look even at that early date beyond its western boundaries for architectural inspiration. (Also confirmed from Megasthenes’ account of the grandeur of Mauryan Dynasty)

Initial Buddhist Architecture

Resembles wooden style architecture incorporated in lithic (stone) forms. 6-7 centuries later, they refine the details to true lithic forms. (structural understanding of stone comes in)

Classification:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Stambhs / Pillars Stupa / Topes Rails Chaityas / Assembly Halls Viharas / Monastries

1. Stambhs / Pillars
Stambhs or pillars are common to all styles of Indian Archtiecture. Buddhism > Inscription on shafts of pillars with emblems or animals on their capitals. Jainism > Generally lamp (diya) bearing pillars, sometimes supporting quadruple figures.

A. Edicts (law)
Collection of 33 inscriptions No Buddhist beliefs > but concepts of a humanitarian society that could be imbibed my commoners Code of conduct The inscriptions comprised of various directives and reforms instated : 1. No sacrifice of animals 2. Medical treatment for humans and animals, importation of foreign herbs, wells dug and trees planted for human and animal benefits 3. Respect for parents 4. Officials to work on various Indian and Western borders; including Greece to help people irrespective of their caste or religion 5. Welfare of people 6. Practice self-control

B. Pillars of Ashoka
• • Hold a high place as works of art > boldly designed and finely proportioned Purpose (architectural viewpoint) was solely monumental, as they were free-standing pillars, not part of an architectural composition

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