Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India

Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India
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Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India

Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India

Architecture, sculpture, junior art flourished in the Gandhara country of ancient India from the first century BC to the fifth century AD. The Gandhara style is the general term for this work of art. The region stretched from the east and northwest valleys of the Indus River to the Swat River and the Kabul Valley. The region is now known as the northwestern part of Pakistan and the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. It is mentioned in literature from the time of Vedas. It is also mentioned in Rig Veda, Brahman Granth, Mahabharata and Buddhism.

Alexander invaded the region in the late 4th century BC. After that, the region was under the control of Greek satraps for some time. He later joined the Mauryan Empire and later fell victim to the invasions of the Scythians, Parthians, Kushans, Sakas, Huns, etc. from time to time. Most foreigners added to it artistically, But the Huns destroyed the buildings here. During the reign of the Kushans, their empire flourished radically in the field of art – mainly sculpture – and at Takshashila, Peshawar, Bamiyan, Jalalabad, Hadda, Kapisha, Begram, Udyan, Takht-i-Behistun, Balahisar, Charsad, Paltudheri, Ghaz-Dheri. The place became known as the center of art.

Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India
Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India

Due to the dominance of multiple dynasties over the art of the Reel Territories as well as their association with the Roman merchants, their different motifs influenced the original Indian art and created a composite architectural style. Due to the Greek influence in it, this method is often referred to as Greco-Buddhist style. The chronological order of the sculptures here is uncertain. In learning about the many facets of this style, it is necessary to consult selected relics from different periods. Remains at Bimaran are the oldest. C. E. Later, in the first century, two distinct statues of Buddha were found at Laudia Tangai (6 AD) and Hastanagar (72 AD). It was during this period (78–100) that Kanishka’s remains were found at Shah-ki-Dheri. Some other idols also became available. Some 2nd-century limestone statues have been found in Takshashilas. Most of them are uncut sculptures.

Most of the idols of the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries are made of limestone and clay and the use of stone is rare. Most of the object sculptures are located near the Jaulian and Dharmarajik stupas, some are found near the bones, and each tribe has its own artistic heritage, so naturally, new ideas and new methods have emerged in this system. The idea of ​​making a statue of a human Buddha first came up here.

Images of Lord Buddha in the form of a hermit yogi were created in a new way. The Buddha’s darshan was performed in various yoga postures. Similarly, idols of Bodhisattvas wearing royal attire and ornaments were made. They must have been built with the ideals of the then local authorities in mind. Until this time, the nature of deities was expressed only through certain symbols. It is not known exactly when man-made idols began to be made, but most experts believe that the Buddha statue may have originated here in the first century AD.

This style originated in the Greek Empire and flourished under the auspices of the Kushan kings during the Kushan period. Thus, although the traditional Indian postures and postures, costumes, gestures, and deities are all Indian, the impression of Greek art on the art form as a whole is predominant. The idea in Buddhist mythology is that just like Lord Buddha, the Bodhisattva descended to the abyss to preach and propagate the religion and to establish peace. Of course, all the idols made in the Gandhara style of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas have the Urnya symbol, considered a symbol of divinity, and rarely the temple (Ushnish).

Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India
Gandhar Sculpture Art of ancient India

Maitreya is shown with a thick mustache and a thick necklace with a specially carved necklace around his neck. The heads of most of the Buddha statues are found to be soft, fleshy and youthful, similar to those of the Greek god Apollo, and the Yakshakuberadi statues bear resemblance to Zeus, and the statues of the Greek deities bear resemblance to various statues of saints and monks. Although the transparency and posture of clothes, hairstyles, bodybuilding are considered to be Greek influences, hand gestures and meditative expressions are part of Hindu tradition. Not only that, but the story of the technique, style and sculpture of sculpting is completely Indian. But the overall sculptural trend seems to be more towards reality than elegance. The Greek idea of ​​a graceful, proportionate body, the Lord, is embodied in these sculptures.

Gandhara style idols are made of stone, also of Subhaja (Shist) stone; But overall the use of stone is found to be less. Out of all that comes grandeur. The magnificent statues of these Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have skillfully carved in Subhaja stone are almost three-dimensional. Apart from these, pottery, limestone idols, ivory and metal idols are also found in abundance here. The small pottery and ivory statues at Kapisha are delicate and magnificent. The sculptors in Gandhara may have been making clay idols by drying them in the sun and then placing limes on them. These veins may have been removed from the mold, as has been inferred from a number of such tops. There is no doubt that the many available headdresses are excellent and artistic forms of personification. The influence of Greco-Roman art on rhythmic and fluid hairstyles and the shape of the various facial features and the shape of the heart is evident in these head sculptures of the Buddha. Curly hair, curly hair, a well-proportioned body, and transparent sheer garments with a lot of lime on the body, must have been of Greek origin. Showing a mustache in personification is another feature of Gandhara style.

Gandhara style Buddha, Maitreya, Vajrapani, Shakyamuni, Yaksha, Kubera, Panchik etc. The idols of women are as characteristic as the figures of men. Mayadevi, Hariti, Madiradevata, Yakshi, Apsara etc. Indian shades are seen in the idols of women, their dress, ornaments, etc., while Western influences are found on their posture, appearance and posture. Not only that, but the Gandhara style obscure devotees, masculine pillars, masculine and masculine garlands as well as Corinthian style pillars, some structures etc. seem to be adorned with foreign memorabilia. It is not known whether all these sculptures were excavated by the Indian sculptors from the Greeks or by the Greek sculptors who came here.

Some characteristic specimens of the Gandhara style can still be seen in various remnants of the Gandhara country. Kanishka’s stupa near Takshashila still bears witness to the grandeur of that art. Apart from this, various archeological museums in India as well as Takshashila, Peshawar, Lahore, Boston, London etc. Various specimens of Gandhara style can be found in the famous museums of the place. Among them are Triratna-Buddha, Yaksha-Chetna, Panchika-Hariti, Maya sitting in lotus, Stupa worship, Bodhi tree, Yatra of purification, Kubhand, toiletries with sculptures of traveling couples as well as plates of Madiraprashan, Sagaradevata etc., Aphrodite and female idols.

Numerous statues of masculine figures, archers, Gautama, Dionysius, Harpokratus and various depictions of Buddha and Bodhisattvas, of various origins, illustrate the diversity and uniqueness of Gandhara sculpture. Apart from this Dipankar Jatak, Chhandkinnar Jatak, Uluk Jatak, Kachchap Jatak, Shyam Jatak, Vishwantar Jatak etc. Many so-called occasions in the life of the Buddha are found here, as well as in many Jatakadi stories and Buddhist scriptures. Not only this, idols of gods and goddesses, Yaksha, Yakshi and Apsara are also found in it. Some Gandhara style occasions, idols and other ornate structures are not found elsewhere. For example, the infant-shaped Siddhartha that appears near Mayadevi or the Mayajal under the tree produced during the plowing ceremony are unique in all respects and the Gandhara sculptures of Bharavijaya and Buddhanirvana testify to the sublime art.

Painting and other arts:

Very few paintings are available in Gandhara today and they can be seen in the frescoes of some places like Hadda, Bamiyan, Miran etc. Among them are the standing Buddha statues and the Buddha statues on the altar. Although the technique and style of painting is Indian, it is influenced by Western art and is mainly of Roman and Byzantine ideas. Paintings from Fondukistan and Kakrak show Iranian impressions.

Junior arts include bronze and gold statues. According to some experts, the young woman in the mirror must have been a replica of Venus in Rome.

The Gandhara style revolutionized the history of sculpture and gave rise to a new sect. The grandeur, diversity and foreign rites of the Gandhara style have earned her a special place in the history of art. However, this art does not show the aristocracy or originality of the Greeks or the elegance and refinement of the Gupta period. However, the bluish gray-subhaja caste stone, lime or clay is the common medium and the influence of Greco-Roman styles makes the Gandhara style stand out from other Indian sculptures.


  • Hallade, Madeleine Trans. Imber, Diana, The Gandhara Style and the Evolution of Buddhist Art, London, 1968.
  • Ingholt, H. Lyons, I. Gandharan Art in Pakistan, New York, 1957.
  • Marshall, Sir John, The Buddhist Art of Gandhara, Cambridge, 1960.
  • Rowland, Benjamin Jr., Gandhara Sculpture From Pakistan Museums, New York, 1960.
  • Saraswati, S. K. A Survey of Indian Sculpture, Calcutta, 1957.
  • Sarkar, H. Studies in Early Buddhist Architecture of India, Delhi, 1966.

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