Chariot Warriors in Ancient India

Illustration

Dr Avantika Lal
by Nomu420
published on 01 October 2018

This sculpture made during the Gupta period (3rd century CE to 6th century CE) shows a scene from the Mahabharata. Here, two elite warriors riding their war chariots are seen engaging each other in an archery duel. The body of the chariot on the left, being damaged, cannot be seen but its wheel and horses are visible. The chariot on the right is mostly intact.

The use of chariots in battle had declined by this period and it is extremely unlikely that the Gupta army used them. This is thus a sculptural representation of how the Gupta artists imagined chariot warfare to have been in the preceding periods of history, particularly in the Epic period where they were much valued. (National Museum, New Delhi, India)

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