The Gupta Empire was named after the Gupta dynasty which ruled approximately between 320- 550 CE. The Gupta dynasty period is regarded as the Golden Age of India. The Gupta period was also known for its metalwork. The metals found during those days were used for making several objects and monuments.
Metalwork was an important factor in the period and was a part of the development of science in the Gupta period. This development of metalwork is evident from the construction of pillars like the Iron Pillar. The pillar is an illustration of the skills of the Gupta people. Iron was commonly utilized for making tools and silverware.
The items made from silver could be afforded mostly by the rich. During the Gupta Empire period, iron was also used to make vases. These vases were elaborately ornamented.
Another important use of metals was for minting coins. Chandragupta II continued to issue gold coin types introduced by Samudragupta.
These were Sceptre type, Archer type and the Tiger type. Chandragupta introduced some new types of coins like the Horseman type and the Lion- slayer type. He issued silver coins and was the first of the Gupta rulers to do so. Chandragupta even issued lead and rare copper coins. Kumaragupta continued to issue the coins issued by Chandragupta II like the Horseman type and the Lion slayer type.
Kumaragupta I introduced new coins that had images of Lord Kartikeya. The coinage issued by Skandagupta was debased. He however, issued different types of gold coins and silver coins. Skandagupta during his reign issued four types of gold coins. These were the Archer type, the King and Queen type, Chhatra type and the Horseman type.
The silver coins issued by him were also of four types namely, Garuda type, Bull type, Altar type and the Madhyadesha type. Skandagupta changed the old dinar standard of coinage and introduced a new suvarna standard.
Metals were also used in making weapons of war. The military of the Gupta Empire had some weapons made from metals. One of the best examples of use of metal for weapons during that time is the steel bow. The steel bow was considered to be capable of long range and cutting through the thick armor like the longbow. However, the steel bows were rare and were only used by the noblemen. Some of the steel weapons used by the Gupta army were broadswords, axes and the khanda. The usage of breast plate and helmet was common.
During the Gupta Empire period metals played a vital role in boosting the economic condition of the Gupta Empire. Metal work was one of the important and flourishing industries of the Gupta period. The metal work industries included use of precious metals like gold, silver, copper, lead, bronze and iron. Thus, metalwork formed a significant part of the lifestyle during the Gupta period.