Iqbal says that while Devsar may be a village today, but once it was the center of Buddhist art
(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)
Ancient Kashmir’s Bronze Art
Devsar, ancient Devesarsa, which today enjoys the status of only a large village
has in the past witnessed several historical events and cultural developments. It once used to be a centre of Buddhist art. There are several curious events and legends associated with this village. Many of these events are well documented in the annuals of Kashmir history.
The village situated on the foothill of South Kashmir, in the medieval periods had been a learning centre for casting of Bronze images. Several bronze sculptures are being reported to have been found in Devsar in past, but unfortunately most of such images had gone unrecorded. Either those artifacts had been destroyed or taken to other places, reveal the reports
Devsar’s cultural significance got revealed in year 1931 when a master archaeological find in shape of a bronze frame incidentally made its appearance in one of the plateaus of the village. It depicted various images of a Hindu deity and is dated to the period of Shankar Varman. The king in 10th Century AD is said to have constructed many royal places in Devsar besides few Hindu temples. However of its antiquities the place besides revealing few artifacts and coins has only preserved the basement of a temple identified as Narisema temple.
There had been some unofficial reports in the past that at few spots of the village the debris of few old places had made their appearance but such materials have more or less have got either unrecorded or to had been used for other purposes. Of all the Devsar finds what is being preserved in the state’s museum at Lalmandi Srinager are few coins, a rare bronze sculpture of Lord Buddha and the bronze frame.
The bronze sculpture and the frame which depicts several incarnations lord Vishnow are the masterpieces of Kashmir’s ancient metal art. These figures had been brilliantly casted and the eyes in these sculptures are inlaid with silver lines. The sculpture of Buddha is also recorded as the earliest bronze sculpture of Kashmir and it also depicts the strong influence of Gandhara art.
The bronze frame which besides other incarnations also carries the wonderful incarnation of Surya (the sun God) measures 6’ 2” ft. long 4’ 4” ft. broad about 1’ 2” ft. thick and 3 mounds and four seers in weight. It is oval shaped with its bottom end flattered on its borders it carriers images of Hindu deities. The images are brilliantly cast.
This is the only find of this kind know from Kashmir and described in various leading archaeological books of the world it is on the basic of this find that Devsar’s artistic activities of Shankar Varma’s period are established. During the times the Kashmiri bronze sculpture art attained a high degree of craftsmanship which continued for decades together.
The Sultans and Mughal emperor also has visited the site and made it as an important Pargana of their empire. There is the mention of Devsar in various chronicles and provide description of several events, which took place in its hills. One of such event recorded in history says that Zawalchu the tyrant invades who entered Kashmir during the period of Raja Suhadeva and had spread terrorism finally got killed in the hills of Devsar.
The event adds that Zawalchi who had killed numerous people and made thousands as prisoners once asked form them about the way leading then asked from them about the way leading then to Hindustan. He was shown the Devsar way. The season was winter and the Panchal Mountains had been experiencing heavy snowfall. Zawalchu who had reached on the top of Devsar hill the snow capped and the came under it thus lost his way. He could not bear the ice cold and got killed along with his forces somewhere in Devsar Mountains.
Devsar’s historical significance is well established besides its artistic activities. Historians claim that they have got ample evidences to believe that in the ancient times a rich urban civilization flourished at Devesar. Several archaeologists had also visited it. R C Kak the veteran archaeologists made extensive surveys of the area. John Siudmak who has been working on Kashmir archaeology speaks of the Devsar’s as most significant archaeological site.
Earlier there was some agency looking after the Devsar ruins but for lost several years the site has been neglected claim the locals. Today there is no body for its care and it is yet to be brought under the ancient monument preservation act. The site, which possesses ancient ruins and debris and had given a masterpiece to the state’s archaeological treasure, requires the attention of archaeologists. It is expected that the archaeological survey of India, which the pioneer archaeological organization agency would initiate some concrete step for the protection of the site and its finds.