The Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.

The Gandhara School of art had also developed in first century AD along with Mathura School during reign of Kushana emperor Kanishka. Both Shakas and Kushanas were patrons of Gandhara School.
Gandharan sculptures show strong Greek influences in the depiction of a ‘man-god’ and of wavy hair, sandals and extensive drapery. The depiction of Buddha as a ‘man-god’ in Gandharan sculpture is believed to be inspired from Greek mythology. Some examples of Gandharan art depict both Buddha and the Greek god, Hercules. Stucco plaster, which was commonly observed in Greek art, was widely used in Gandharan artwork for the decoration of monastic and cult buildings. The Roman and Greek Influences in Gandhara Buddha are enumerated as follows:
Roman influence

  • Artistic interpretation: The legendary interpretation of Buddha is sometimes presented through roman motifs like triton.
  • Artistic techniques: In artistic interpretation; Buddha of Gandhara is sometimes presented through roman art techniques using vine scroll; cherub wearing Garland.
  • Anthropomorphic tradition: The tradition of representation of Buddha in human form is inspired from roman anthropomorphic tradition .
  • Dresses: The outer robe of Buddha of Gandhara like kaaya; antarvasa resembles to attire of Roman gods.

Greek influences
Greek god as protector: In many images of Buddha in Gandhara; he is seen under the protection of Greek god Hercules.

  • Vajrapani: Vajrapani found in the right hand of future Buddha is told as transformed symbol of Hercules who is seen as protector of Buddha.
  • Greek architectural influence: Some images of Buddha in Gandhara are presented in Greek architectural environment bearing the affinity of Corinthian.
  • Artistic beauty: The Apollo like face of Buddha; natural realism; wavy hair as seen in images of Buddha in Gandhara resembles to Hellenistic tradition.
  • Intellectual affinity: The hello and bun of Gandhara Buddha signifies intellectual imbibitions of Buddha from Greek The Bamyan Buddha of Afghanistan is a classic example of the Gandhara School.
Question for UPSC Mains:
The Gandhara sculpture owed as much to the Romans as to the Greeks. Explain.

Published: May 1, 2016 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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