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Sculptures in Manipur

Chumthang Chronicle Service,
Imphal/13thJune/2015: in the historical period, Manipur, had both traditional and historical accounts of the art of sculpture. This art form was quite different from the Indian sculpture are mostly carved in flat relief sandstone slabs and appeared to be local development and do not posses the fine workmanship. The art of sculpture is neither prevalent in the valley nor in the hilly regions before the Christ.
The evolution of the art of sculpture in Manipur is connected with the spread of Hindu religion and culture. The later half of the 15th Century A.D. proved to be a turning point in the history of art of sculpture in Manipur. There was inroad of influences from different parts of India as the Brahmanical sculpture spread and naturally many gods and goddesses of Hindu Pantheon were sculptured. During the time of Kiyamba (1467-1508 A.D.) there was no Hindu sculpture, only a pebble presumed to be the god Shri Vishnu was worshipped in the temple at Bishnupur. Later, the Brahmans brought sculptures of Hindu gods such as Heigriba( a horse-faced God of music, a competitor of Narada ),Brindabanchandra, Shri Jaganath, etc. when they migrated to Manipur. 

During the reign of Meidingu Garibaniwaz, the idols of Kalika and Hanuman were sculpture and were placed in the Mahabali temple. It was during the reign of Rajashri Bhagyachanda that the idols of Shree Shree Govindaji were sculptured. The idols of Jaganath, Sumitra and Balabhadra were sculptured during the time of Raja Gambhir Singh.

During the reign of Maharaja Iswar Singh (1805-1886 A.D.) Saivism and Shaktism and many idols of Siva and Durga in manuscript bears the positive evidence of the survival of Saivism and Shaktism in Manipur. In 1851 due to the great influence of Shaktism, the  worship of Yumjao Leima wasw superseded by the worship of Shakti and the sculpture of Durga was done. Many Hindu gods and goddesses were sculptured on stone, brick wood and terracotta.

Churachand Maharaja (1891-1941 A.D.) revived both Hindu and Meitei cult. No archaeological or historical evidences are yet found about the spread of Buddhism in Manipur. However, some Buddhist sculptures are found in Manipur due to the influence of Burmese during the period i1819-1825 A.D These sculptures are preserved at present in the Manipur State Museum, Mutua Museum, Manipur State Archaeology, atc.

Courtesy: Manipur State Museum Folder.

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