characteristic signs of the various kinds of images (pratimalakshanas). The
Brihat Samhita of Varahamihira (6th century AD), contains a chapter which
deals not only with the essential details connected with the iconography of
some principal Brahmanical deities, of the Buddha and the Jinas, but also
expounds on the iconometric technicalities. Sections of some of the Puranas
and Agamas contain important iconographic and iconometric details useful
for the identification and study of Brahmanical icons. Development of
Mahayana and Vajrayana sects necessitated the making of various types of
the Buddha and Bodhisattva images, and the canons for their construction
were codified afterwards. Canonical literature compiled by the Jaina
theologians of the early medieval period are helpful in the study of Jaina
iconography.
Main characteristics of Gupta sculptures While the sculptures of the
Saka-Kushana period belonging to the Mathura school largely retained the
volume and physicality of the earlier folk art, the Gupta sculptures,
particularly those of the Sarnath school, though based on early traditions, are
obviously indicative of a new aesthetic quality. The youthful human form
became the pivot of Gupta sculpture, with the sculptors presenting the human
form in different attitudes in accordance with the nature of the divine image
which it was meant to represent. The idealized human form again with its
delicate curves and nuances was shown to the fullest advantage with the help
of almost transparent drapery. The human figure meant to represent various
types of deities and its hands shown in a variety of poses (mudras) which
were suggestive characterizations of their individual actions. The asanas
(sitting postures) and the sthanaka bhangas (standing flexions of the body)
also acquired distinctive variations which were now plastically rendered with
graceful poise and spiritual elevation seldom attained in the later art of India.
Sarnath was the nucleus from which the Gupta sculptural tradition spread out
to various other parts of India.
Post-Gupta sculptures The sculptures of the post-Gupta period, though
preserving to some extent the earlier classical expression, came to be
distinguished by regional variations which were instrumental in ushering in
the medieval schools of sculpture associated with different parts of India.
Such regions as Eastern India, Western India, Ganga-Yamuna valley, Central