The Gupta Empire was named after the Gupta dynasty which ruled the northern Indian regions approximately between 320- 550 CE. The Gupta dynasty period is regarded as the Golden Age of India for the over- all peace and prosperity. The Gupta Empire was not only popular for the development achieved in science, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, but it was also known for its sculptures.
The sculptures of the Gupta Empire showcase the skills of the people belonging to this period. During the Gupta rule, the style of sculptures that developed was entirely Indian since the influence of foreign arts had slowly vanished. The sculptures made during this period had religious and spiritual themes attached to them. The sculptures mainly paid attention to themes like the Buddha, or Hindu gods like Shiva and Vishnu.
It was during the Gupta dynasty period that the Buddhist sculptural work prospered. More attention was given to the poses and gesture of the figures. The two important illustrations of the Buddhist sculptural work that progressed during this period were the Standing Buddha of Mathura and the Sitting Buddha of Sarnath. The Standing Buddha was build using red sandstone in the 5th century.
The sculptures of the Gupta period proved to be a source of inspiration to arts and also to the later dynasties which established here. During the 5th century snakes comprised of an important part of the sculptures. In the Gupta Empire period the art of Bharhut, Amravati, Sanchi and Mathura amalgamated into one.
The composition which was created by the union of these arts gave importance to the feminine figures. The turning point of the Gupta Empire sculpture was the use of human figure to indicate an image. Terracotta was very popular during the Gupta reign. The Ajanta caves in Maharashtra are good examples of the craftsmanship of the Gupta people. Some parts of Madhya Pradesh were the Gupta rulers had established their kingdom are also very popular for its sculptural works.
During the Gupta Empire period, approximately between 4th and 6th century AD, pink sandstone was used to make sculptures in Mathura. These sculptures were extremely delicate and had a very high fineness. The Gupta Empire art not only influenced its Indian counterparts, but also provided inspiration to other countries in the East Asian region.