Group of Buddhist sculptures from the upper monastery at Nutta, Peshawar District 10031110
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a group of Buddhist sculptures from the upper monastery at Nutta, Peshawar district, taken by M.Serrot in 1883. This is one of a series of photographs taken by M. Serrot and reproduced in photogravure as Plate 17 of 'Illustrations of Graeco-Buddhist sculptures from the Yusufzai District', in volume I of Henry Hardy Cole's 'Preservation of monuments in India' (c. 1885). Cole wrote,"...In the centre is a panel of the death of Buddha, and a panel of Buddha surrounded by worshippers. The peculiar halo, or nimbus of flame round the head of the saint, and his standing on water, represent his control over the two most potent elements. The small sculpture below is a figure bowed with the weight of the superstructure borne on his back..."
From the first and second centuries AD onwards, 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.