Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kushan Empire

The Kushans established their empire in the first century AD and were contemporaneous with the Satavahana (Andhra) and western Satraps (Sakas) kingdoms during part of the second century AD.

There are two completely distinct styles in Kushan art. Gandhara, in the northern part of the empire, was built by craftsmen from eastern Rome who were employed by patrons of Buddhism. These craftsmen brought with them the Graeco-Roman style, particularly in the drapery of the sculpture, so that the Buddhists represented there were dressed in the classical Greek and Roman garments, the chiton, rimation, stola, tunica, chlamys, etc.

The second style in Kushan art was that which arose in Mathura, the southern capital of the empire. This style was a direct continuation of the native Indian schools of Bharut and Sanchi. But a clearer picture of the actual Kushan costume is seen in the sculpture at Surkh Kotal in Afganistan, the influence on style there being Parthian (eastern Iranian). The Parthians themselves were of scythic stock like the Kushans, and their costume is much the same and resembles closely the portrait of Kanishka, the great Kushan king, found at Mathura. The latter wears, in addition to his tunic and trousers, a fur-lined coat or pustin which is also seen at Surkh Kotal.

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