Gandhara art

Style of Buddhist art that developed in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan from the 1st to the 7th century AD.

It was contemporaneous with Mathura art. The Gandhara region had earlier been a site of much Buddhist missionary activity, and the Kushan rulers maintained contact with Rome; the Gandhara school incorporated motifs and techniques from Classical Roman art (e.g., vine scrolls, cherubs with garlands, tritons, centaurs), but the iconography was based on the interpretation of Buddhist legends. Sculptural materials included green phyllite, gray-blue mica, and stucco; sculptures were originally painted and gilded. See also Central Asian arts; Kushan art.

The Buddha preaching, relief from Gandhara, schist, c. 2nd century AD; in the Prince of Wales ...

P. Chandra

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▪ Buddhist art
      style of Buddhist visual art that developed in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD. The style, of Greco-Roman origin, seems to have flourished largely during the Kushān dynasty and was contemporaneous with an important but dissimilar school of Kushān art at Mathura (Uttar Pradesh, India).

      The Gandhāra region had long been a crossroads of cultural influences. During the reign of the Indian emperor Aśoka (3rd century BC), the region became the scene of intensive Buddhist missionary activity; and, in the 1st century AD, rulers of the Kushān empire, which included Gandhāra, maintained contacts with Rome. In its interpretation of Buddhist legends, the Gandhāra school incorporated many motifs and techniques from classical Roman art, including vine scrolls, cherubs bearing garlands, tritons, and centaurs. The basic iconography, however, remained Indian.

      The materials used for Gandhāra sculpture were green phyllite and gray-blue mica schist, which, in general, belong to an earlier phase, and stucco, which was used increasingly after the 3rd century AD. The sculptures were originally painted and gilded.

      Gandhāra's role in the evolution of the Buddha image has been a point of considerable disagreement among scholars. It now seems clear that the schools of Gandhāra and Mathura each independently evolved its own characteristic depiction of the Buddha about the 1st century AD. The Gandhāra school drew upon the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman religion and represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo-like face, dressed in garments resembling those seen on Roman imperial statues. The Gandhāra depiction of the seated Buddha was less successful. The schools of Gandhāra and Mathura influenced each other, and the general trend was away from a naturalistic conception and toward a more idealized, abstract image. The Gandhāran craftsmen made a lasting contribution to Buddhist art in their composition of the events of the Buddha's life into set scenes.

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Universalium. 2010.

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