Friday, November 16, 2012

Gandharan Style Greek - Buddhist Art (5th C. BC - 5th C. AD)


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"Gandhāra (Sanskrit: गन्धार, Pashto: ګندارا‎, Urdu: گندھارا‎) was an ancient kingdom in the Swat and Kabul river valleys and the Pothohar Plateau, in modern-day states of northern Pakistan and northeastern Afghanistan.....The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the Vedic period (c. 1500-500 BC) to the 11th century AD. As a center of Buddhist culture, it attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Kushan Kings. The Persian term Shahi is used by history writer Al-Biruni to refer to the ruling dynasty that took over from the Kabul Shahi[5] and ruled the region during the period prior to Muslim conquests of the 10th and 11th centuries. After it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 AD, the name Gandhara disappeared."... The Grandeur of Gandhara: The Ancient Buddhist Civilization of the Swat, Peshawar, Kabul and Indus Valleys. Algora Publishing, 2011

"....Trungpa Rinpoche said that the thangkas in Tibet had really lost it..... But he really totally admired Gandharan style, which was happening in India around the time of emperor Ashoka. He loved how simple and powerful the geometry was, of not just the shapes, but the forms, the volumes, and the sculptures, and the volumes in the temples. He loved the monumental scale of the sculptures. He also loved the fact that the Gandharan style was developed by Greek sculptors living in India that became Buddhists--or at least were hired to do the Buddhist thing. They knew a lot about the geometry, called the thigses (thig tshad), and Rinpoche loved the monumental scale of their work......He thought the Tibetan approach had become too lyrical, too flowery, too pretty, too sentimental, and that wasn't the way he was [laughter]. So I think he wanted to have thangkas that were like him, come to think of it--powerful and gorgeous and simple, but really pure, like going back to the pure teachings and getting rid of all the unnecessary ornamentation.......Trungpa was going back to perception--how perception worked. He was designing these thangkas to fit into your eyeball. He even said at the time that the Buddhist symbols are actually woven into the retina of your eye--like the eight sacred symbols are actually woven in........Jack Niland discusses thangka painting under the direction of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the Summer of 1971.......

"This sculpture, head tilted slightly to bust three quarters, is a young man holding flowers in a fold of his garment. His face elegant profile, high forehead, full cheeks, rounded to oval, is framed by a curly hair free and certifies influences from Northwest India. This figure of deva or genius, perfectly illustrates this Hellenistic revival combined with a plastic Indian resolutely typical stucco released at the site of Hadda, complex style that is characteristic of the eclecticism of the Afghan school which incorporates the style of Gandhara . This sculpture was once for another, and paid tribute to a great Buddha giving her flowers.

"Greek Buddhism" flourished in Central Asia hundreds of years before Buddhism entered Tibet.

Developed a technique of stucco sculpture workshops come Greco-Roman Alexandria, this deity is off the wall, from a bas-relief barely suggested high relief almost total, resuming a process illusionist inherited Greece and used since the time of Kushan Bactria.

This character comes from a niche adorned the court of one of the two stupa built inside the Monastery of Tapa-Kalan in Hadda, renowned place of pilgrimage. These monasteries were comprised of cells and courtyards in the middle of which stood a stupa. The walls of the sanctuary were abundantly decorated with scenes from the life of Buddha, where many characters were varied attitudes deities annexes, including the famous "Genie in flowers." The exceptional realism of this art evoking various ethnic types Northwest India, the quality of the modeling of faces and the delicate refinement of this school, fully justify the prominent place occupied Hadda among various workshops "Greco -Buddhist. "

Musée Guimet | Collections | Afghanistan Pakistan

"Gandhāra is also thought to be the location of the mythical Lake Dhanakosha, the birthplace of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The bKa' brgyud (Kagyu) sect of Tibetan Buddhism identifies the lake with the Andan Dheri stupa, located near the tiny village of Uchh near Chakdara in the lower Swat Valley. A spring was said to flow from the base of the stupa to form the lake. Archaeologists have found the stupa but no spring or lake can be identified."


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2012


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