Crafts, Trades and Towns

    • Trade was a factor that was continuous and consistent from 200 AD to 300 AD. Different parts of the country were connected through trade routes, some leading to Western and Central Asia. Gangetic valleys had ports that had sea routes to ceylon and burma. Taxila was connected to Patliputra thorugh a highway. Land routes to southern India were also well developed.
    • The discovery of Monsoon winds in 1st Century AD led to improved connectivity through the Arabian sea and this further boosted trade and connectivity between India and West Asia.
    • The Roman empire had a strong presence in Europe and east Asia and the Indian traders had a thriving partnership with their counterparts in the Roman empire. The Indian traders would collect merchandise such as herbs, spices, gems, stones and other articles and shipping to foreign coasts was done through Foreign traders. The Chinese Old silk road connected Indian traders to Central Asia. It also brought them into contact with Chinese traders and the Silk cloth. Indian merchants became an intermediary for silk trade between chinese and the west.
    • It was observed that the Northern part of India traded with Central Asia and southern traders focused on East Europe and West Asia.
    • Guilds also became common in this period and there existed 75 different occupations of which 60 were of different crafts and art. Artisans were employed by the guilds along with free labor and slaves. Guild system made manufacturing efficient and also ensured less competition and protection of trade secrets. Guilds used their own insignia and special customs and courts to enforces and uphold their laws.
    • Coin minting also grew during this period. Both foreign and domestic coins were used. Foreign coins were used for larger transactions and domestic coins were used for smaller transactions.

Gandhar School of Art

The Gandhar art emerged in areas around Peshawar.

The Sakas and Kushana were the real patrons of it.

    • A great deal of Gandhar sculpture is aways been found in a blue grey mica schist, sometimes in a grey phyllite and rarely in a terracota. Except for a handful of hindu idols most of the sculptures are of buddha or the boddhisattvas or of architectural ornament for the buddhist monasteries. The sculptures chiefly show major events in the life of buddha – his birth, mahaparinirvana and great departure
    • The buddha is standing or seated. The iconography is purely indian. The seated buddha is always crossed legged as usually seen in traditional Indian sculptures. The buddha statues are also marked by the presence of elongated ears, a topknot of hair on his head and hairy mole which marked the buddhas forehead. Ears are marked by the absence of earrings or ornaments.
    • Buddha is always with hand gestures in one of the four mudras : Abhaya (Do not fear), Dhyana (seated buddha with palm facing upward signifying meditation), dharmachakra (preaching mudra) and bhumispara (Earth touching mudra).
    • The chief patrons of this school of art were the Shakas and the Kushanas.

The Gandhar form was influenced by Indian as well as Greco – Roman style. Buddha’s sculptures in various image, sizes and forms were made. Yogic posture of Buddha. The reliefs depict his birth, renunciation and preaching.


  1. Moulding human body with features like muscles, moustache and curtly hair.
  2. Thick drapery with large and bold fold lines.
  3. Rich carving, elaborate ornamentation and symbolic expressions.
  4. The main theme was  Buddhism – Mahayanism
  5. Grey sandstone was used.
  6. Only Buddhist religion was depicted.
  7. Patrons were Kushana. 

The Stupa’s were made taller with ornamentation to make them attractive. The monasteries were also influenced.

Mathura School of Art

The Buddha’s face had a spiritual feeling which was absent in Gandhar art. The Apsara’s and Yakshini’s too were carved beautifully. The school also carved Siva, Vishnu and their consorts Parvati and Lakshmi.

  1. Indigenous only.
  2. Red sandstone used.
  3. All religions were depicted.
  4. Patrons were Kushana.
  5. Buddha in Padmasan form. First to carve Jatakas on long rock panels. 

Kangra School of painting:

When Nadir Shah invaded India, the Mughal artists fled to hills and founded it. Its main inspiration was Vaishnavism.

Amravati School of Art 

  1. Indigenous influence
  2. white marble used
  3. Buddhist religion depicted
  4. Satvahana dynasty was patrons.
  5. Jatakas tales of Buddha
  6. Located in Krishna Godavari valley