Statue of Buddha and carved slabs from the monastery at Mian Khan, Peshawar District
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken by M Serrot in 1883 showing a statue of Buddha and some sculpted slabs from Mala Tangi in Peshawar district. This is one of a series taken by M Serrot in 1883, and was reproduced in photogravure as Plate 27 in '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 described this image as, ''No. 1 [top left], a small frieze of figures. No. 2 [middle row, left], part of a circular frieze, representing ascetic life - a figure struck down by a storm. In the centre is a small tree with large leaves (Jack tree - Artocarpus integrifolia). No. 3 [centre] is a fragment of a standing Buddha. No. 4 [top row, right] is the worship of symbols. Nos. 4 and 5 [middle row, right] are parts of a frieze, probably representing one of the Jatakas, or birth-stories of Buddha.''
From the first and second centuries AD onwards, Peshawar district, in northern Pakistan, became famous for 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.