Along the Border of Heaven by Richard M Barnhart, John P. O'Neill & Joan S. Ohrstrom,

By Richard M Barnhart, John P. O'Neill & Joan S. Ohrstrom, WalterJ.F Yee, Gerald Pryor

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No writer has doubted that these sculptures should be assigned to the Gupta period,105 but more specifically they appear to be products of the sixth century: The treatment of both the figures and their accouterments recalls the sculptures of the fifth century and closely anticipates the style of the seventh century, especially at nearby Nalanda. The extremely soft modeling of the Visnu resembles the treatment of the late fifth-century Buddha images from Sarnath and certainly precedes the harsher modeling of the seventh-century stucco images at Nalanda.

As for the garment of the Hankrail Visnu, it is not indicative of a Kusana date but is encountered frequently among Eastern Indian Visnu sculptures of the Gupta period and later. For example, the Visnu from Chaitanpur (Plate 104), probably a work of the seventh century, shows a similar form of dress. Moreover, the so-called Kusana dress of the two Surya images is nothing more than the northern dress (udicya vesa) prescribed for Surya in all known textual references to the iconography of this deity; it is worn by Surya images of the Kusana period, the Gupta period, and later times in almost all parts of the subcontinent.

Similarly, the great mdld-yajhopavita indicates a Gupta date for the Maniyar Math figures, since after the sixth century all ornament is rendered in lower relief. That the sculptures, however, were made during the sixth century rather than fifth century is suggested by several features. 95 Thus though the plan may be based on old Magadhan models used for rock-cut sanctuaries, it may have been selected because of a long-standing association with Naga temples, especially at Mathura, whose impact is so evident in the early Gupta sculpture of Eastern India.

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