Sculpture slab from the lower monastery at Nutta, Peshawar District: Boys with a garland
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a sculpture slab from the lower monastery at Nutta taken by Serrot in 1883. This is one of a series of photographs taken by M. Serrot and reproduced in photogravure as Plate 14 (lower half) 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, "The style of ornament is Graeco-Roman, like the sways, or garlands, which decorate the entablature of the temple of Vesta at Tripoli, dating 70 B.C. The garland has a Buddhistic significance, and to this day garlands of cloth are carried in procession in Burma to adorn topes or sacred trees. They are frequently represented in the Bharhut and Sanchi sculptures, and are seen depending from the sacred Bodhi tree and placed round topes. Two of the figures behind the garland have wings, and play a guitar and gong, or tambourine. The two supporting figures are playing the drum and cymbals."
From the first and second centuries AD onwards, Peshawar, 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.