Buddhism and Gandhara Art

Editor: R C Sharma & Pranati Ghosal

Publisher: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2004

216 pages


The destruction of the colossal Buddhas of Bamiyam by the Taliban regime of Afghanistan became a symbolic moment which demanded reactions. This book is an academic reaction, by scholars specializing in Gandharan Buddhist art (and the two colossal Buddhas are very much in the Gandharan tradition). Unfortunately, it is not a particularly good volume.


Like all proceedings coming out of Seminars or Conferences the quality of individual papers varies, and there are a large number of very poor papers here. There are some articles on Islam's relationship to images which are written by people who clearly have no expertise (by Kranti Kumar and Amar Singh); as well a lot of articles which start with an interesting idea (such as Preety A Trivedi's 'Svastika: The Gandharan Enigma') which then just stop, without really going anywhere. It leaves a sense that the authors did not revise the papers based on the exchange of ideas at the seminar - this is re-enforced by seeing just how dated much of the chronology discussion is. Some papers are clearly aware of the Rabatak inscription, while others are not.

This is not to say that there are not some worthwhile articles. For example B R Mani's 'Excavation at Ambaran and Akhnur Terracottas' which reports on the work he has been conducting at the Buddhist site of Ambaran, and is somewhat more detailed than the report recently published in Indian Archaeology Review. The notes on the Dipankara Jataka by Anasua Das are also of interest. There are a number of articles that do a reasonable job of summarizing material already published, such as Devendra Handa's which is essentially a rework of recent publications on Indo-Parthian hoards, K K Thaplyal's summary of inscriptions, and very useful is Saifur Rahman Dar's 'Fifty Years of Research in Gandharan Art', whose appendices contains an extensive bibliography of works from 1947 to 1997 which may be of value to students.

In short there are some interesting articles in this volume, but too much that is dated, incomplete, or of low quality.

Contents Page Reviews



The Late Kushans


The Date of Kanishka


History of Civilizations of Central Asia


Robert Bracey.