The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

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, the 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 situated in the north-western region of Pakistan, around Peshawar.

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 by symbols alone such as his: footprint or an empty throne or Bodhi tree. The statue was made in the 2nd or 3rd century and although Buddha lived in the 4th century before Christ this is an early and rare example.

Buddha was represented by symbols such as this Footprint from 1st century, Gandhara.

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 following the conquests of Alexander the Great in 332 BC and the subsequent establishment of the Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Kingdoms. This led to the development of Greco-Buddhist art. Gandharan Buddhist sculpture displays Greek artistic influence and contributed wavy hair, drapery covering both shoulders, shoes and sandals.

Facts:

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

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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