'Significant for its stucco decorations'

Print edition : February 22, 2013

Durga Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Calcutta University . Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

"The findings in the latest phase of the excavations in Moghalmari are particularly significant because here, for the first time, we find a large number of stucco decorations and sculptures in the region. Stucco art was earliest seen in the Gandhar region, that is, the region around Peshawar and northern Pakistan. There is evidence that people from the north-western parts came to the Gangetic plain and entered Bengal, so it is possible that they brought with them this cultural trend. However, whereas here the stucco art is mainly a mixture of lime, sand and mud, in the north-western part the mix also contained gypsum. Stylistically we can date the artwork to be very close to the Gupta period. We also find certain potteries that are typically of the Gupta period, which was around the 6-7th century.

“Stucco is used mainly in the monastic areas and is an important material in the monastery complex. We have seen that in the Nalanda and Vikramshila monasteries, Buddhist monks used stucco extensively. In ancient India, in the monasteries and the Hindu temples, mainly terracotta or burnt clay was used for decoration or making plaques. But here in Moghalmari we see a departure from that tradition. This trend may have come from Bihar. Though in the Raktamrittika monastery we have seen some images, such as the Buddha head made in stucco, there are also a large number of terracotta artwork; but here we find only stucco.”

Durga Basu

Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Calcutta University. She has been involved with the excavation project at Moghalmari right from the start.

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