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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Gandhara Buddha

Gandhara Buddha

Gandhara Buddha

“Gandhara Buddha” is one of the earliest representations of the Buddha from 1st-2nd century CE, discovered at the site of ancient Gandhara in modern-day Pakistan. Like other Gandharan or Greco-Buddhist art, this statue shows influence from Ancient Greek art. Gandhara had been part of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom established by Alexander the Great. Gandhāra was an ancient Indic kingdom in the north-western region of Pakistan, around Peshawar. Although Buddha lived in the 4th century before Christ, this is an early and rare example of an Anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha.

Statues of the Buddha were not made until after the 1st century CE. For the first four hundred years after his death, Buddha was represented only by symbols such as his footprint or an empty throne or Bodhi tree. Initially, artists were reluctant to depict the Buddha anthropomorphically and developed sophisticated symbols to represent the Buddha. Anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha started to emerge from the 1st century CE in Northern India.

The art of Gandhara benefited from centuries of interaction with Greek culture after the conquests of Alexander the Great in 332 BC and the subsequent establishment of the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Kingdoms. The Indo-Greek Kingdoms were Hellenistic kingdoms covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent during the last two centuries BC.

This Greek influence led to the development of Greco-Buddhist art. Gandharan Buddhist sculpture displayed Greek artistic influences which contributed the wavy hair and the flowing drapery covering both shoulders on this statue. Did Greek Cultural influences also contribute the Halo to the art of the East?

A halo, also known as a nimbus or glory is a crown of light rays, circle or disk of light that surrounds a person as represented in art forms. Halos have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes. In the sacred art of Ancient Greece, which may have been influenced by Ancient Egyptian Art, the Greeks represented sacred persons with a halo in the form of a circular glow. This statue may have been influenced by this Greek Idea of a Halo which also influenced the sacred art of Ancient Rome and Christianity,

Top facts about Buddhism

  • Buddhism originated from around 400BC with the historical person known as the Buddha.
  • Western academics created the term ‘Buddhism’ in the 1830s. Buddhists don’t refer to their religion as “Buddhism” before the emergence of this label.
  • With over 500 million followers, Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world.
  • The four largest religious groups are: Christianity, 2.4 billion –  33%, Islam, 1.8 billion – 24%, Hinduism, 1.15 billion – 15% and Buddhism, 521 million – 7%
  • Because of Buddhism’s emphasis on meditation and mindfulness, Buddhism is often considered to be a form of psychology and not a religion.
  • Buddhists don’t believe in a supreme being or creator god.
  • In Buddhism, there is no single holy book.
  • Buddhism has many diverse traditions with two main branches.
  • Unlike most religions or spiritual beliefs, Buddha’s teachings were spread by nonviolent methods such as word of mouth or art.

Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha (c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE), also known as Siddhārtha Gautama or simply the Buddha, was a monk, mendicant, sage, philosopher, and teacher on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the northeastern part of ancient India sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

Buddha taught a Middle Way between sensual indulgence and the severe asceticism, and he is the primary figure in Buddhism. He is believed by Buddhists to be an enlightened teacher who attained full Buddhahood and shared his insights to help sentient beings end rebirth and suffering. Accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules are believed by Buddhists to have been summarised after his death and memorized by his followers. Various collections of teachings attributed to him were passed down by oral tradition and first committed to writing about 400 years later.

Explore Buddhist Art

Reflections

  • What aspects of this sculpture show Greek influences?
  • How much influence has Buddhism had on the modern understanding of meditation and mindfulness?
  • Did Greek Cultural influences contribute the Halo to the art of the East?

Gandhara Buddha

  • Title:                 Gandhara Buddha
  • Material:           Stone
  • Size:                  H: 1m
  • Created:            c. 1st – 2nd Century AD
  • Discovered:      Gandhara, Pakistan
  • Museum:          Tokyo National Museum

Buddha Quotes

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“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

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“Give, even if you only have a little.”

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“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”

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“There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.”

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“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, humans cannot live without a spiritual life.”

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“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

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“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can, and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

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“Irrigators channel waters; carpenters bend wood; the wise master themselves.”

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“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

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“Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”

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“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

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“Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.”

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“If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.”

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“The root of suffering is attachment.”

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“To be idle is a short road to death, and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.”

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“Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.’

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“Peace comes from within.
Do not seek it without.”

– Buddha

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Photo Credit: 1) Public Domain, Link 2) Public Domain, Link

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