Sculpture piece of (?) Garuda and Nagini, from Rhode Tope, Sanghao, Peshawar District
Photographer: Serrot, M.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a sculpture of Garuda and Nagini 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 3 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 of this object, 'This is a very curious piece of sculpture...The representation [of a female figure carried by an eagle or other bird] is evidently traceable to some legend. General Cunningham identifies the figure as Maya, the mother of Buddha, being carried up to the Trayastrinsha Heavens after her death, where it is said she was 'born again'. The mode of representing this legend is suggested by the famous statue, by Leochares (B.C. 326, when Alexander's influence was being felt in India), of Ganymede being carried off by Jupiter's Eagle.'
From the first and second centuries AD onwards, Peshawar district, in northern Pakistan, became 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.