Sculpture slab from the upper monastery at Nutta, Peshawar: the death of Buddha
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the upper monastery at Nutta in 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 Plate16 (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), and represents the death of Buddha. Buddha died at Kusinagara in Uttar Pradesh where he told his followers that he was ill and wanted to lie down in a sal-tree grove. He entered four trances before he died, the fourth known in sanskrit as the 'Mahaparinirvana'.
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.