Group of statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas excavated at Lorian Tangai, Peshawar District 10031045
Photographer: Caddy, Alexander E.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of three Buddhist sculptures from Loriyan Tangai, Peshawar district taken by Alexander Caddy in 1896. The sculpture on the left is a depiction of Buddha whilst the figure on the right of the image is possibly Maitreya. He has one leg raised and a lotus in his right hand as well as a moustache which is a common feature in Gandharan sculpture. Maitreya is a Bodhisattva, an enlightened human who, rather than ascending to nirvana, chose to remain on earth and aid others in their quest for enlightenment. Bodhisattvas formed an important part of Mahayana Buddhist doctrine, a school of thought that was becoming popular in South Asia in the first and second centuries AD. At the same time, Peshawar district, in northern Pakistan, was becoming well known for the production of sculptures like those pictured here. Known as Gandhara, it was ruled by a dynasty of Chinese origin called the Kushans. They were Buddhists and under their influence, the religion, and the arts associated with it were allowed to flourish. The reign of the Kushan king Kanishka, is particularly well known for its artistic achievements and it was during his reign, from 78 AD, that we find the first examples of the Graeco-Roman influenced Gandharan style of sculpture. The classical influence on these sculptures can be clearly seen in the figures draped clothing, their curly hair and the naturalistic modelling of their bodies.