The art of bronze sculpture has a rich history in India, with its origins dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization. During this ancient period, the ‘lost-wax’ or Cire-perdue process for casting and the formulation of bronze alloys using copper, zinc, and tin were discovered.

Evolution of Bronze Sculpture from the Indus Valley Civilization to the Chola Reign:

Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BCE):

  • The earliest known bronze sculpture, the ‘Dancing Girl’ from Mohenjodaro, offers a glimpse into the early stages of bronze artistry. It features simplified tubular forms for limbs and torso.
  • Similar bronze statuettes were excavated from Daimabad (Maharashtra) dating to 1500 BCE.
  • Example: Dancing Girl of Mohenjodaro – A bronze figurine with a right hand resting on the hip, left arm adorned with bangles, and a distinctive Tribhanga posture.

Kushana Period (2nd century CE):

  • Jain Tirthankara images found in Chausa, Bihar, showcase the sculptors’ mastery in rendering masculine physique with simplified muscles.
  • Example: Jain Tirthankara sculptures from Chausa, Bihar.

Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain Icons (2nd to 16th century CE):

  • India boasts a diverse array of bronze sculptures representing religious figures like Buddha, Hindu deities, and Jain icons. These sculptures were primarily used for ritual worship, characterized by their exquisite beauty and aesthetic appeal.

Pallava and Chola Period (8th to 12th century CE):

  • While bronze images were created during the Pallava Period, the zenith of bronze sculpture was achieved during the Chola Period in Tamil Nadu from the 10th to the 12th century.
  • Example: Sembiyan Maha Devi, a widowed Chola queen, was a notable patron of bronze art during the 10th century.

The Nataraja Image:

  • The iconic dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja reached its full development during the Chola Period. This complex bronze image has since inspired various artistic variations.


The art of bronze sculpture, which originated in the Indus Valley Civilization and reached its pinnacle during the Chola reign, continues to be a skillful and cherished practice in India.

Places like Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu serve as living testaments to the enduring significance of Chola Period bronze sculpture in contemporary India, reflecting its enduring legacy in the art world.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish September 13, 2023