Mauryan period (340 BC to 232 BC) The first big empire after the Vedic age, was the first one to rule over most of the Indian subcontinent. The art and architecture during this period except for the Pataliputra palace, is mainly Ashokan. It can be classified mainly into Stupas, Pillars, Caves, Palaces and Pottery.
The Art during the Mauryan era witnessed a major transformation – from use of wood to stone and also marked an impressive step forward in Indian stone sculpture.
One of the finest examples of Mauryan sculpture, the magnificent Lion Capital at Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of the modern Indian Republic. Samrat Ashoka who had embraced Buddhism, constructed numerous Stupas all over the country to celebrate the achievements of Gautam Buddha.The Stupa at Sanchi is one of the greatest examples of Stupas built in that period.
The white-grey sandstone pillars were erected by Ashoka all over his empire and these were inscribed with famous edicts of Ashoka propagating the laws of Buddha.
The Didarganj Yakshi or Didarganj Chauri Bearer dated between 3rd to 2nd century BC currently exhibited at the Bihar museum in Patna, is one of the finest and precious examples of Mauryan Art. Terracota art which was the most famed during the pre-historic time, was still practised during the Mauryan period.