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Head from a statue of the Buddha
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As shown on previous pages, in early Buddhism it was not thought appropriate to represent the Buddha in human form. The images of the Buddha so familiar today did not begin to appear until the first to third centuries AD, over 500 years after the Buddha’s death. This early image of the Buddha was made in Gandhara, an area that today is in Pakistan and Afganistan.

Due to its geographical position, Gandhara was always a croosroads of the major Asian trade routes. Following the invasion by Alexander the Great in 326 BC, Gandhara was ruled by Greek kings for over 300 years until the region fell to the Sakas, Partians and Kushans. Drawing from the various cultures that either settled or moved along these trade routes, Gandharan art took on a distinctive style, combining Graeco-Roman, Indian, Chinese and Central Asian influences.

Head from a statue of the Buddha

From Gandhara, northwest Pakistan, I-V centuries AD.
Ht 38,7 cm.
Collected by Major-General Sir Frederick Richard Pollock.
Gift of Lord Buckmaster as executor of the Dighton Pollock Bequest.

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