Sculpture slab from Rhode Tope, Sanghao, Peshawar District: Buddha meeting two ascetics
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
This photograph shows a sculpted slab from Rhode Tope, Sanghao 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 9 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, "This is part of a frieze with pilasters at intervals. The stone has become much decayed on the surface. The subject is the visit of the Buddha to the emaciated Tirthika Uruvilwa Kasyapa, an ascetic who lived in a forest of bael trees. On Buddha's left is his cousin the evil-disposed Devadetta. Beyond Uruvilwa is a very life-like figure of an ascetic bowed down in contemplation."
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.