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

Published: January 17, 2015

Gandharan art is of Greco-Roman origin, combined with Indian artistic traditions. 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, Herakles. Stucco plaster, which was commonly observed in Greek art, was widely used in Gandharan artwork for the decoration of monastic and cult buildings.

However, Gandharan sculpture owes as much to Roman art as it does to Grecian art. Even though the iconography of Gandharan sculpture was Indian in nature, it also incorporated motifs and techniques from Classical Roman art. Some of the features of Classical Roman art observed in Gandharan sculptures are vine scrolls, cherubs with garlands, tritons and centaurs. Additionally, the Gandharan sculptors drew from the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman religion. The depiction of Buddha in Gandharan art is reminiscent of sculptures depicting a young Apollo. The draping of the robes on Buddha was also very similar to the drapery on Roman imperial statues.

Thus, Gandharan sculpture combines both Greek and Roman artistic influences with Indian aesthetics.

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