Fasting Buddha - gandhara art

It's a historic region of India, situated astride the middle Indus River, the region had Taxila and Peshawar as its chief cities. It was originally a province of the Persian Empire and was reached (327 BC) by Alexander the Great.

This is the land which attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 B.C., with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. During the 2nd century B.C., it was here that Buddhism was adopted as the state religion which flourished and prevailed here for over 1000 years, starting from 2nd century B.C., until 10th century A.D. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsaddah (old Pushkalavati) became three important centres for culture, trade and learning.

The region passed to Chandragupta, founder of the Maurya empire, in the late 4th cent. BC, and under Asoka was converted (mid-3d cent.) to Buddhism. It was part of Bactria from the late 3d cent. to the 1st cent. BC Under the Kushan dynasty (1st cent.-3d cent. AD), and especially under Kanishka,

Gandhara developed a noted school of sculpture, consisting mainly of images of Buddha and reliefs representing scenes from Buddhist texts, but with marked Greco-Roman elements of style. The art form flourished in Gandhara until the 5th cent., when the region was conquered by the Huns.

Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh both in Taxila. It was from these centres that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara Sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan together with many private collections world over, as well as in the museums of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the zenith of this Gandhara Art is one and only “Fasting Buddha” now on display in Lahore Museum, Lahore.

Finally, the light of Islam penetrated in this part of the world as early as 7th century AD. from the west with the Arabs and during the 10th century AD from the north with the Turks. Islam replaced the early way of life of worshipping idols and introduced new philosophy of faith in one God. With Islam in came a new culture in this land from Arabia and Central Asia.

Hence, a new type of architecture, hitherto unknown in this area, was introduced. Tens of thousands of Mosques, Madrasahs, tombs and gardens were created by the Muslim rulers all over the Sub-Continent. The new style of Islamic architecture prevailed and matured in this land for over a thousand years. The most important contribution of the Muslim rulers to this land, however, is a new language ‘Urdu’ which became the national language of Pakistan since its independence in 1947.