Amaravati (stupa model in the pics) occupies a pre-eminent position in the history of Indian Art. Beginning in 3rd BCE, the school of Amaravati art unfolds its chapters through the sculptural wealth that once adorned the Mahachaitya. Amaravati, locally known as Dipaldinne (Hill of the lamp), is located 35 km north of Guntur.
The Chaitya has a history extending over 1.5 millenia (recorded history of Amaravati begins Asoka's time). It's a Dhatugarbha form of Chaitya containing a relic of Buddha. Other two forms of Chaitya are Paribojaka (associated object of Buddha) & Uddesika (memorial). Examples of the Amaravati marbles: 1st medallion shows the taming of Nalagiri, a mad elephant let loose on Buddha in Rajagriha by his wicked cousin Devadatta. The commotion & anxiety caused by the rush of the furious animal at Buddha is forcefully brought out & thereafter it is shown calm & kneeling at his feet.
Another relief medallion shows the Lotus relief. The third one is an elaborate medallion showing the translation of the begging bowl of Buddha to heaven. Medallions were part of the base of the Stupa.
The fragmentary slab is the oldest feet of Buddha in India, dating back to 100 BCE. It is carved in a stylised manner with ‘Mahapurusha Lakshanam’: A 1000-rayed wheel in the centre, along with srivatsas, trisulas & svastikas. Another relief shows 4 women praying devoutly to the same.
Artifacts from this wonderful treasure trove are currently scattered across the globe:
Guimet Museum (Fra), Asian Civilisations Museum (SGP), British Museum, UPenn Museum, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Freer Gallery of Art, Seattle Art Museum.
Apart from overseas museums, these wondrous limestone relics can be found across at least 10 museums here (some even in a museum in Pudukkottai). There's an Archaeological Museum at Amaravati too.