Gandhara Art is a type of Buddhist art which developed between 1st century BC and 7th century AD in Gandhara region, which is northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan today. Also known as Greco-Buddhist art, it developed when artistic influences from Greek and Rome mixed with Buddhist traditions of Afghanistan. Under patronising of Kushan kings, Gandhara Art new heights. At the same time, a different style of art was developing at Mathura in India.
Style and Its Evolution
Buddhas of Gandhara Art are Greek monarchs wearing the light toga-resembling himation. The structures where the art forms are placed are developed in Greek style. Pantheon of Greek and Indian deities encircle these deities. Initial Gandhara art was extremely fine and realistic. However, with time, it lost its sophisticated realism, and became more symbolic and decorative.
Gandhara Art is fine fusion of Indian and Roman schools. Motifs and techniques of classical Roman art such as vine scrolls, tritons, cherubs bearing garlands and centaurs are incorporated. Yet the basic iconography is Indian.
In the beginning years of Gandhara Art, green phyllite and gray-blue mica schist were used. However, after the 3rd century AD, artists started using stucco. In the time of their making, Gandhara sculptures were painted and gilded.
Gandhara Centres of Culture
Taxila, Swat and Charsaddah (old Pushkalavati) were main centres of Gandhara Art. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built in these places. During the course of centuries Gandhara Art developed in these towns. Today pieces of Gandhara sculpture occupy place of pride in museums of India, Pakistan, China, Korea, Japan, England, France, Germany and USA. Sculpture of ‘Fasting Buddha’, displayed in Lahore Museum of Pakistan is the masterpiece of Gandhara Art.