Comparing Sculptures of Ancient India and Greece

Subject: Art
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 849
Topics: Art History, Ancient Greece

Table of Contents


For centuries, sculptures have occupied significant part in people’s life in Indian and Greece. The earliest sculptures were made possibly to supply supernatural help to hunters. Sculptures were made to symbolize gods following civilization. Ancient kings, probably with the intention of making themselves unforgettable, had resemblances carved. This gave birth to the portrait sculpture. The Greeks and Indians made sculptures that perfectly portrayed formed women and men. Ancient Christians decorated churches using devils and demons to remind people of the presence of evil. Both Indians and Greeks loved depicting god and myths on their sculptures, but used different styles (Sayre, 2015). This paper will examine the similarities and differences between the sculpture of ancient Indian and Greece. 

The similarities and differences between the sculpture of ancient Indian and Greece can be identified through looking at the things depicted, the message intoned, the materials used, and the design and style of the sculptures. Despite the fact that ancient Indians and Greece lived far apart and had different values, they portrayed the same things and message that of gods, goddess, sports, animals, and myths.  The Indians and Greece used similar materials to make their sculptures that included stone, marble, clay, bronze and sandstone. The Indians and Greece used different styles and design to carve their sculpture. The Indians employed simple but attractive painting, unglazed pottery. The Greece utilized the red-figure pottery style, using red figures and black backgrounds.  Sculptures in ancient Greece were large in size whereas in Indian there were smaller (Dillon, 2006). 

In ancient India, sculptures were used mainly to depict religious principles of Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. The female nude was specifically used to portray the various attributes of gods and thus it was endowed with several arms and heads. The Indian sculpture completely suppressed the idea of individuality whereas the Greece emphasized it. The Indian sculpture did not have the tradition of individuality as the sculptures were considered as representing eternal beliefs. In short, ancient Indian artists focused on linear character rather than on three-dimensional fullness and volume as the Greece artists did.  In other words, the sculpture was designed according to its outline and was characteristically slender and elegant. During the 10th century, sculpture in India was mainly used for architectural decoration and thus, the figures crafted were small and of mediocre quality to match this purpose. Similarly, during the Hellenist era in Greece, artists focused on outlines, providing detailed anatomy and being careful with the outlines of the body so as to display the powerfulness of gods (Cohen, 2013). 

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The Greece was perfect in their crafting of sculpture and their sculpture depicted the reality in the ground. In Greece, the sculptures depicted the human body in its ideal form. Ancient Greece sculptures tended to express emotions and thus sculptures exuded power and energy. A good example is ‘The Farnese Bull’. Human sculptures expressed emotion and suffering such as ‘The Dying Gaul’ (Gagarin and Elaine, 2010). The ancient Indian sculptures of the 5th century exhibited an exceptional sensibility with the human sculpture that is serene and meditative. The body was finely sculpted and the face glowed with enlightenment.  

The modern era artists are experimenting with new materials, new styles, and new ideas when it comes to sculpture. Studies on human sculpture have given way to new form, space, and subjects: emotions, ideas, dreams. Artists are now using chromium, welded steel, plastic, broken automobile parts, pieces of old furniture and boxes to make sculptures. Modern artists embrace nearly everything from abstraction to hyperrealism. The defining feature of modern artists is the belief that sculpture matters. To them, the sculpture has real value whereas ancient artists just believed it had value. Ancient artists lived in an age controlled by Christian beliefs systems and thus had to closely follow the rules. However, just like the ancient artists, they emphasize on the expressive use of color. For example, the pop art is a style of art that depict mass consumerism and popular culture.  It uses bold, simple figures and vibrant blocks colors to create iconography based on photos of popular celebrities, such as film-stars, comic strips, consumer product packaging, posters, and advertisement. This has led to the differentiation between fine arts and commercial arts. The abstract expression of modern art has shown that good art can be low-brow and represent just anything (Sayre, 2015).


In conclusion, sculptures reflect the culture of the country that creates them. This is truer in the case of the sculpture of the ancient Indian and Greece. Sculpture in ancient Greece and India played an important role in transmitting their culture, history and philosophical thought.  A look at the subject matter, materials, design, and style of the sculpture of these two societies shows that they share some similarities and difference. The sculptures of Buddhist in ancient India conveyed the serenity, grace and nobility characteristic of the Buddha. Through their sculptures of gods, Greece emphasized the significance and accomplishments of the human being. Although much of the Indian and Greece sculpture was intended to honor the deities, those very deities were crafted in the humans’ image. 

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  1. Cohen, G. M. (2013). The Hellenistic settlements in the East from Armenia and Mesopotamia to Bactria and India (Vol. Hellenistic culture and society). Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  2. Dillon, S. (2006). Ancient Greek portrait sculpture: contexts, subjects, and styles. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Gagarin, M. and Elaine F. (2010), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, Volume 1, Oxford University Press.
  4. Sayre. H.M. (2015) The Humanities: Cultures, Continuity and Change Third Edition, Vol . 
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