Small architectural pillars, kneeling figures and fragments from the base of stupa, from the upper monastery at Nutta, Peshawar District
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of some small architectural pillars and fragments from the base of a stupa from 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 Plate 13, 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, "The three upper figures are small supporting figures, or caryatides, and show variety in the attitudes. The frieze below probably represents, in part, the procession of the four kings to present their bowls to Buddha. On the right is a broken representation of a seated Buddha, with a bowl in front and two kings offering him two smaller ones. The horses have bridles and head-stalls, which were not used in India until after Alexander's invasion."
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, there curly hair and the naturalistic modelling of there bodies. Architecturally, the Corinthian capitals at the top of the small pillars are also clearly of Graeco-Roman origin.