Sculpture slab from a mound near Muhammad Nari, Peshawar District: Buddha seated on a lotus in the centre of a profusely ornamented chapel, surrounded by minor figures
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of sculpture slab, depicting the Buddha in a chapel, from a mound near Muhammad Nari, 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 1 of 'Illustrations of Graeco-Buddhist sculptures from the Yusufzai District' in vol. I of Henry Hardy Cole's 'Preservation of monuments in India' (c. 1885). Cole wrote, "The elaborate piece of carving was found by Mr Dempster, C.E., Executive Engineer, Swat Canals, and he kindly allowed me to have it photographed. In the upper right-hand corner we have a very perfect representation of a hemispherical dome on pillars with Corinthian capitals. Whether the domed roofs were of actual leaf seems doubtful. The columns below are certainly taken from stone models, and the domes may have been of stone with a leaf ornament applied to the surface....Dentils of a classical form enrich the various mouldings, and the rail here used ornamentally is copied from the railings which usually surround Indian Buddhist topes." General Cunningham has given me the following note: - ''The small figure at the top represents Buddha on his horse Chanda leaving his home by night. The central figure is Buddha teaching, with a royal figure standing on each side. Below is a row of eight Buddhas."
From the first and second centuries AD onwards, Peshawar district, in northern Pakistan, was famous for it's sculptural traditions. Known as Gandhara, it was ruled by a dynasty of Chinese origin called the Kushans. They were Buddhists and under their rule, 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 this sculpture slab can be seen, in the figures draped clothing, their curly hair and the naturalistic modelling of their bodies.