The Telegraph
Thursday , October 18 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stroll through past in stone

Visitors to Patna Museum can now wander onto its courtyard and take a walk through history carved in stones.

Seventy-two sculptures — which visitors could not see earlier as they were stored away because of lack of space in the exhibition galleries — have been put on display at the new sculpture park. Most of these belong to the Pala period (8th century to 12th century) when the eponymous dynasty ruled Bihar, Bengal and other parts of east India.

JPN Singh, additional director of the museum, said: “The courtyard was unused. Many valuable statues and sculptures were kept in the storeroom, as there was no space in the exhibition gallery. But now visitors would be able to see the valuable works in stone at the Sculpture Park.”

Brajesh Kumar, a guide, said: “Most of the artefacts on display are partially damaged. But the statues still convey an idea of the stone sculpture of the Pala period to the visitors.

“At the four corners of the park, we have placed four small stupas dating back to the 12th century. These depict the four mudras (symbolic or ritual gesture) of Gautam Buddha — bhumisparsha, dhyana, abhaya and dharma chakra parv. Another statue depicts all the five mudras of Buddha (the fifth one is varad).”

While bhumisparsha is a representation of Siddhartha’s enlightenment at Bodhgaya, dhyana is meditation. Protection is represented through abhaya mudra; dharma chakra parv depicts Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh. The varada mudra is an illustration of charity and compassion.

Another artefact at the park is a broken piece of a pillar from the Mauryan dynasty (from which Asoka hailed) dating back to the third century BC. “The polish on the pillar has remained untouched,” said Brajesh. One sculpture also depicts Indrani — a Hindu goddess of war who killed the demon Angikasur, according to mythology.