The Museum houses about two thousand stone sculptures from circa 3rd century B.C. to the 14th century A.D. These hail from various sites stretching from the ancient Gandhara regions (modern Afghanistan and Pakistan) to Bengal but mostly represent the so called Ganga- Yamuna valley. Made in various kinds of stone such as schist, slate, sand stone (red and buff), lime, chlorite, basalt and granite, the pieces include divine and semi-divine figures related to Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina and Folk religions of India. Of these sculptures, a few being inscribed are historically important. There are some sculptures which betray rare iconography of certain divinities. There are also some sculptures which were relieved with fascinating narratives and finally, there are quite a few which are artistically beautiful and pleasing.
The Museum has
a sizeable collection of sculptures of the Kushana period (lst to 3rd
century A.D.). These include images of Surya, Mahishasurmardini, Kubera,
A number of beautiful sculptures are there in this collection belonging to the classical art of Gupta period (4th -6th century A.D.). These images are mostly the productions of either Mathura or Sarnath School of sculptures. There are also notable pieces hailing from the city of Banaras and from Bihar. Related to the Mathura School, the Museum has beautiful Buddha heads, head of Harihara and the head of Ardhanarisvara. A number of Buddha images and heads also hail from Sarnath. From Banaras, the Museum could collect a monumental image of Govardhanadhari Krishna displayed in the Central Hall, a fascinating image of Kartikeya in the gallery seated on his mount peacock, two inscribed pillars with Visnavite figures from Rajghat, a few Buddha images and a panel in the gallery showing stealing of butter by Lord Krishna.
From Shahabad, Bihar hails one of the finest images of Indrani. This image bears an aristocratic aloofness in her bearings and holds a thnderbolt (vajra) and a pomegranate in her hands. As the spouse of Indra, sahasraksha (thousand eyed one), the Indrani bears a number of eye on the upper part of her body including a eye on her forehead. The images of Hari-hara represents the blend of characteristics of two important gods viz. Vishnu and Siva. The left has the emblems of Vishnu like crowm , disc and conch. While siva is to be recognised by matted hair, crescent, rosary, trident. This rather unique and beautiful image is carved in the schist stone and hails from the Ganganagar region in Rajasthan.
The collection includes a number of notable images from central, north and eastern India which are either ichnographically important or aesthetically pleasing or both. Of these mention may be made of a few displayed images including a dancing image of child Ganapati from Kanauj, U.P. dated 9th century A.D. , the damages panel of a Jyotirlinga from Etah , U.P. dated 10th century A.D. and the panel showing Marriage of Siva also from Etah, U.P. dated in the 10th-11th century A.D. The Lady in Languor (Alasa-kanya) and the figure of Dikpala Isana from Khajuraho, Central India dated in the 10th-11th century are no less remarkable. A few Visnu images and his incarnatory forms specially, the Tortoise incarnation (Kurma-avatara) and Boar incarnation (Varsha-avatara) from Bihar and Bengal belonging to 10th-12th century are ichnographically as well as from the point of regional expressions of Pala-Sena periods are worthy enough to note. A few late images including the figures of Batuka Bhairava and Jyestha of South Indian origin are ichnographically quite interesting and are on display in the gallery.