Welcome to the Study of Gandhara Art
Over three thousand year ago an Aryan Cattle-herding people migrated from central Asia to Gandhara where they sand the hyms of paraise to its abundance, later generations enshined these hymns in the Rigveda, a book of sacred writings embodying the genesis of Hinduism
Achaemenids (558 - 330 BC)
Cyrus the great (558 - 528 BC) founder of Persian Achaemenid Dynasy pushed his boundries onto Peshawar's plains followed by Darius (520 - 486 BC) who proudly proclaimed Gandhara among the prized strapies of his realm
Alexander The Great ( 325 - 326BC)
Alexander the great the Achaemenids and marched to Gandhara, poised for the invasion of South Asia. A scant few months later, his dreams dissolved as his troops mutined demanding to be homeward bound. Before he left Amexander the great met briefly with young Chandragupta Maurya, soon to become South Asia's first empror.
Auryans (321 - 180 BC)
Chandragupta Maurya (ca: 321 - 297 BC) first became king at Taxila. He established his capital, however at Patna, far to the south east in the region where Buddha had taught 200 years earlier. At Taxila on the sensitive frontier of the Mauryan Empire the Empror's grandson Ashoka ruled as viceroy. Buddhism was firmly implanted in Gandhara while Ashika ruled the Mauryan Empire (ca. 273 - 236 BC) Pilgrims by the score wended their way to this land, some stayed to study at Taxila's famous Universit. Gandhara became a Buddhist holy land.
Foreign Invaders (180 - 64 AD)
Fifty years after the death of Ashoka, political unrest beset Gandhara for 250 years City-kingdom ruled by Bactrians Greeks, Indo-Greeks, Sythians from central Asia and Parthians from Persia rose and fall.
Kushans (64 - 241 AD)
The cultural ferment ocasioned b the incursions of such diverse peoples prepared Gandhara for its greatest moments of glory under the mountains of Afghanistan about 64 A.D.
Kushan King of Kings, Kanishka (ca: 128 - 151 AD) established Gandhara as the cultural and political center of an empire extending from the Aral Sea to the Ganges River from the center of the subcontinent across the Pamir mountains to the Chinese frontier.
Power brought peace and peace brought unprecedented prosperity. When Kanishka extended his royal pattronage to buddhism, Gandhara's monastries again filled with pilgrims and pious students. Artists piously decorated and revitalized monastries.
Versed in disparate traditions introduced by political changes and the das of the Achaemedis, these artists deftly focused the collective artisar of east and west. They created a school of art - The Gandhara Art an art so dynamic it endured for five centuries and materially influenced the arts of Central Asia, China and South Asia.
Renewed Invasions (241 - 870 AD)
The demise of the Kushans brought fresh newcomers and uncertainty. Annexation b Persian Sasanians in the 3rd century AD was followed in 5th century by the advent of Central Asian Hepthalites about 460 AD Chinese Buddhist pilgrims continued to make their way to Gandhara into the 8th century; Tibetan Buddhist made pilgrimages down to 16th century but the zenith has passed.
Political and social unrest agravated by periodic floods and earthquakes resulted in diminishing trade and economic depression. The monastries lost much of their patronage and the monks gradually moved away.
Hindu Shahi (870 - 1001 AD)
The rise of the Hindu SHahi dynasty int he middle of the 9th century stimulated the revival of hinduism. Once again the gods of Rigveda gave solace throughout the land.
Ghaznavids Forward from 1001 AD
In the 11th century Sultan Mahmus of Ghazni (997 0 1030AD) emerged from the Afghan hills as a zealous champion of Islam, in 1001 he defeated the Hindu Shahi King Jaypal at Peshawar.