Shared region and date characterise many styles that often spread across different religious traditions - often, the same artisans catered to patrons of varying religions. Having been the preferred form of art for the service of religion over painting and architecture, Indian sculptural tradition is considered one of the world's greatest. Because religious devotion has played such a significant role in the production and propagation of sculpture in the subcontinent, works in stone are more in abundance than metals, wood, ivory, and terracotta. Stone is durable and especially conducive to darshana, a Sanskrit word that could be loosely translated to auspicious visual perception. Visual images such as in these sculptures are purported to manifest the deity, so the sculpture in question is a way to set eyes on and be seen by the divine Itself.
Indian stone sculptures were meant as deep reliefs designed with numberless imponderables in mind. There is often an overemphasis on iconography and a resorting to highly specific textual descriptions of the deity manifested in a given work of art, which defeats the purpose of this form of art. Extant records state that stone is about not only what is represented but also how it is represented. As manifestations of the divine, the pieces collected in this section are highly characteristic yet exquisite in terms of the skill that goes into infusing divinity into a block of stone and how regional variations are highlighted.
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