For more than 150 years the monuments of Sanchi, because of their architectural grandeur and sculptural profusion, have been a center of attraction for casual visitors as well as serious scholars, both Indian and foreign.
Sanchi monuments are the most imposing and the best preserved of all the monuments that early Buddhism has bequeathed to India. The four gateways of the Great Stupa, the only gateway of the Stupa 3 and the ground rail-pillars of the Stupa 2 preserve in their bas-reliefs and encyclopedia of sights and scenes depicting the culture and civilization of the time.
The depiction of Sanchi art is numerous as well as various. Within the Buddhist framework the artists portrayed the panorama of life in the expressive language of the Buddhist and non-Buddhist motifs. Sanchi art ranks high as one of the earliest attempts to represent the contemporary life in its entirety.
The present work Life in Sanchi Sculptures by Dr. A.L. Srivastava is an attempt for the first time to represent a complete and comprehensive socio-cultural picture of Indian life between the second century B.C. and first century A.D. as revealed in Sanchi bas-reliefs. Men and women, princes and commoners, hunters and hermits, soldiers and servants, arms and armour, dress and ornaments, coiffures and cosmetics, conveyances and recreations - life in a thousand aspects both rural and urban - have been minutely revealed through this work. The book Life in Sanchi Sculptures is life a film screening war in progress, advancing and fleeing armies, fortifications, dwellings and shrines, royal processions, kings in court and people enjoying picnic, drinking, joy-riding and participating in water-sports, dance and music.
Dr. Srivastva deals with various aspects of the life and culture as gleaned from the Sanchi panels. His critical studies are solid contributions, graphically illustrated. The author has made a good many scintillating contributions on Sri-Lakshmi, Iha-mrigas, Kinnaras, symbols and motifs. He has actually interpreted the contemporary culture and civilization and human life in all its exuberance duly supported by ancient and contemporary literature and archaeological evidence.
82 photographic plates and 436 line-drawings enhance the value of the book. These line-drawings, which particularly illustrate the objects sna articles of daily use, fashions in dress and drapery, ornaments and jewellery, are a valuable aid to the understanding of Sanchi civilization.
An important feature is the appendix providing a list of Sanchi sculptures in different Indian and foreign museums.
The presentation is throughout critical, lucid and comprehensive.
Dr. A.L. Srivastava, born in 1936, took his Master's degree in Ancient History and Culture from Lucknow University in 1966 and stood first class first. He also obtained his Ph.D. degree from the same university in 1976.
Dr. Srivastava has contributed about forty research papers in Indian and foreign journals on Sanchi sculptures and various other aspects of Indology, particularly Indian art motifs and symbols.
He has been regularly contributing historical articles and stories to almost all the lading Hindi periodicals. He has also made several radio-broadcasts on sculpture, ivory-art and numismatics.
Discoveries of some rock-shelters and rock-paintings in the hills of Sanchi-Kanakhera and Nagaauri in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh in 1973 (Prachya Pratibha, Vol. IV, No. 1) and a rare silver coin of Chandragupta-Kumaradevi type in 1974 (JNSI, Vol. XXXVII, 1975) made by Dr. Srivastava show his keen interest in the field of research.
He has also prepared three monographs-'Srivatsa,' 'Indian Art Motifs' and 'Sanchi Sculpture: A Cultural Study' (a collection of his published papers on Sanchi, its art and architecture).
Presently, Dr. Srivastava is a Lecturer in the Department of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology at C.M.P. College, University of Allahabad.
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