Gandhara

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Gandhara

(gəndä`rə), historic region of India, now in NW Pakistan. Situated astride the middle Indus River, the region had Taxila and Peshawar as its chief cities. It was originally a province of the Persian Empire and was reached (327 B.C.) by Alexander the Great. The region passed to Chandragupta, founder of the Maurya empire, in the late 4th cent. B.C., and under Aśoka was converted (mid-3d cent.) to Buddhism. It was part of Bactria from the late 3d cent. to the 1st cent. B.C. Under the Kushan dynasty (1st cent.–3d cent. A.D.), and especially under KanishkaKanishka
, fl. c.A.D. 120, king of Gandhara. He was the most powerful and renowned ruler of the Kushan dynasty, one of the five tribes of the Yüeh-chih who had divided (1st cent. B.C.) Bactria among them.
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, Gandhara developed a noted school of sculpture, consisting mainly of images of Buddha and reliefs representing scenes from Buddhist texts, but with marked Greco-Roman elements of style. The art form flourished in Gandhara until the 5th cent., when the region was conquered by the Huns.

Gandhara

 

the ancient name of a region in northwestern Pakistan, probably dating back to the Gandhari tribe mentioned in the Rigveda. The Behistun inscription also mentions the region of Gadara, which is identified by historians as Gandhara. Evidently Gandhara at the end of the sixth century B.C. was a part of the Indian possessions of the Achaemenids. According to ancient Indian literature, Gandhara was once an autonomous state with its capital in Taxila. Beginning in the fourth century B.C., Gandhara was part of the state of the Mauryas and of the other states that supplanted each other after the collapse of the Mauryas. In the first through third centuries A.D. it belonged to the Kushan kingdom.

From the latest centuries B.C. to the first centuries A.D., a distinctive art of one of the leading Kushan schools of the time existed on the territory of Gandhara; it was given the name “Gandharan art.” The art of Gandhara is closely associated with Buddhism. Its main achievements are in sculpture—for example, statues of Buddha, bodhisattvas, and other members of the Buddhist pantheon and bas-reliefs portraying scenes from the life of the Buddha that decorated stupas and monasteries in Taxila and the Peshawar region. An idealized canonic image of the Buddha, compositional patterns of bas-reliefs, and symbolism were developed in Gandhara. There are different theories about the chronological framework of the Gandharan school, its internal periodi-zation, and the artistic influences assimilated by it. There is no doubt that the art of Gandhara developed on the basis of the artistic traditions of northwestern India under the influence of the Hellenistic plastic arts; subsequently there was an increase in Graeco-Roman and Middle Asian influences. The traditions of the Gandharan school (whose monuments have been traced up to the seventh century) played an important role in the development of the medieval art of Middle, Central, and Far-Eastern Asia.

REFERENCES

Tiuliaev, S. I. Iskusstvo Indii. Moscow, 1968. Pages 37-40.
Foucher, A. L’art gréco-bouddique du Gandāra, vols. 1-2. Paris, 1905-51.
Deydier, H. Contribution à l’étude de l’art du Gandāra. Paris, 1950.
Ingholt, H., and I. Lyons. Gandāran Art in Pakistan. New York, 1957.
Marshall, J. The Buddhist Art of Gandāra. Cambridge, 1960.
Schlumberger, D. “Descendants non-méditerranéens de l’art grec.” Syria, 1960, vol. 37, nos. 1-2.

A. M. OSIPOV (history) and B. IA. STAVISKII (fine arts)