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Glory of The Kushans - Recent Discoveries and Interpretations

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About The Book Advent of Kushans in the Indian subcontinent is a significant historical event. It is suggestive of such processes and factors which shaped early historic cultural milieu of India in particular and Asia in general. The Kushan kings played an important part in the ancient history of India and Central Asia, worthy contemporaries of the three great world powers of the early centuries of the first millennium AD, the Roman Empire. the Han Empire of China and the Arsacid and ...
About The Book

Advent of Kushans in the Indian subcontinent is a significant historical event. It is suggestive of such processes and factors which shaped early historic cultural milieu of India in particular and Asia in general.

The Kushan kings played an important part in the ancient history of India and Central Asia, worthy contemporaries of the three great world powers of the early centuries of the first millennium AD, the Roman Empire. the Han Empire of China and the Arsacid and Sasanian Empires of Iran. During the first four centuries of the millennium, they controlled a vital space between these empires, acting the role of entrepreneurs in international trade and restoring unified rule to northern India. Their patronage of Buddhism enabled it to spread through Central Asia into China. However, in spite of their importance, very little information of their activities has survived into the modern period.

This volume is an outcome of the International Seminar entitled, 'Kushan Glory and Its Contemporary Challenges’, which was organized by the Bharat Kala Bhavan. Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (India), between October 3 and 5, 2008. Most of the papers were presented in the seminar but there are a few which were invited. Inclusions of these were intended to fill the gaps, in the otherwise holistic format of this volume.

The 21 contributions of the volume are placed in seven distinct sections covering different themes, viz., ( i ) Discoveries: Old and Recent: (ii) Hegemony: Kushan Empire and Out-posts: ( ) Chronology and Succession: (iv ) Policies and Patronage: Kushan Religion: (y) Architecture and Settlement: Kushan Archaeology: (vi) Art Expressions: Kushan Portraits and Compositions; (vii) Expansion and Continuity: Kushan Styles and Techniques.

This strikingly illustrated volume is a significant contribution to the field of Kushan studies and is valuable for students and scholars of history.

About The Author

Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Indian History, Dr. (Ms.) Vidhula Jayaswal is teaching supervising and concluding research in Archaeology at the Banaras Hindu University for more than three decades. She has also served the Archaeology Surveys of India for a short period. Recipient of various scholarships and fellowships, she received specialized training in Arcaeology and Anthropology at the University of Berkeley. Professor Jayaswal has not only carried out a number of archaeological an ethnological field studies, but has also been prompt in publishing the results. Author of over one and a half dozen books and research monographs and more sixty research articles, Professor Jayaswal is known for her original contribution in the studies of Indian prehistory, ethnoarchaeology, ethno-at history and interpretation of archaeological remains of the historical period. Besides, she could also infuse scientific temper to the study of archaeology, through some majr projects financed by the Ford Foundation and the Department of Science & Technology, of which she has been the principal investigator and coordinator. Her important publications include-The Palaeobistory of India, The Kushana Clay Art, Royal Temples of Gupta Period and Ancient Varanasi –An Archaeological Perspective.

Editor’s Note

Advent of Kushans in the Indian subcontinent is a significant historical event. It is suggestive of such processes and factors which shaped early historic cultural milieu of India in particular and Asia in general. One of the causes for the early to very early beginning and growth of technologies and ideologies in Asia appears to be the movement and migration of peoples. The food producing technologies of the prehistoric times and the copper technology of the following stage, for example were invented and mastered here at a very early date. The growth and expansion of these technologies had a rapid culmination into city life, a pronounced feature of civilization which was experienced by Asia much earlier than the other parts of the world. Instances of movement of Neolithic and Bronze age communities in Asia and it’s neighbourhood ( East Europe ). are gleaned in the archaeological records. This process also continued in later times. It may not be a mere co-incidence that. the high order intellectual pursuits and their Organization in Babylonia, Iran and China. flourished in Asia, at the dawn of the historical period. One wonders, if the two golden ages of Asia, the Tang and the Gupta periods, were their own miracles or were the result of the foundation which was laid by the Kushans. Contribution of Kushan. a migrant tribal group. thus is accessed to be immense. Hegemony and the land of travel occupation of Kushans ought to be addressed in any serious study on the Kushans. Two significant contributions. by Jeffery Lerner and Michael Mitchiner in this volume discuss issues related ‘Hegemony: Kushan Empire and Out-posts’.

Another vista opened by the Kushan rule was to place India firmly in the Asian panorama. Geographical boundaries of the triangular land mass of Indian subcontinent provided a protective fertile niche for Indian culture to grow some what in isolation. The indigenous intellect and spiritual experiences along with invention of technologies. were nurtured here for several centuries in succession. Of course, there had been time to time inclusion of foreign traits also. The high spiritual attainments followed by material progress from village to city to kingdom. of the proto-historic and early historical periods ( between around 1500 BCE and the beginning of CE) was a picture of testing physical and religious strengths, through political and spiritual/religious governance. The supremacy of religious institutions though was pronounced for long time, yet, these gradually drifted away from general masses. Indifference towards developing communicative expressions for reaching the masses is glaring, particularly in pre-Kushan material remains. Lack of portrayal of divinities, even in such sculptural panels of Sanchi, which were aimed to popularize the life story of the enlightened one, the Buddha, among the devotees, is a quotable example. The galaxy of other divinities, which were part of Indian mythology and religious belief, too awaited personification. It is well established that one of the greatest contributions of the Kushans was in terms of giving material expression to the Indian religious practices. Gods of the contemporary pantheon were portrayed in diverse medium, which marked the beginning of iconography. One wonders whether this long awaited initiation by the Kushans, was due to their pan Asian exposure, or was it an adaptive quality and sensitivity towards the socio-religious requirements of their fellow folks. Debate on such enquiries is unavoidable for a meaningful exercise on Kushans, so are various aspects of contemporary religious institutions, concepts, and policies. Robert Bracey, Charles Willemen, Archana Sharma and Arpita Chaterjee pen down significant issues on 'Policies and Patronage of Kushan Religion'.

A little before the establishment of Kushan supremacy there was a major change in the nature of recording of human endeavour in the Indian subcontinent. For about two millennia (2nd-1st millennium BCE), the main source to access Indian history was religious texts. The segment of excavated findings which were available were vague and unconnected with the texts. The literary accounts of different religious sects, though helped in supplementing and/or altering claims of one and other, their authenticity for dates and chronologies were restricted. But in the beginning of the historical period (between 150 BCE and CE 320), which is also designated as the time of 'international contacts and culture expansion', secular records, were initiated in a big way. Not only valuable descriptions form part of both Indian and foreign accounts, but known dates of important royal and cultural events were also maintained. This laid the foundation for dating system. Coins and epigraphs added particular authenticity to some of these historical narrations. It is because for these new categories—secular literature, coins and epigraphs—various facets of Kushan history are known. Continuation of new discoveries of coins and epigraphs which come to light, one after the other, needs to be evaluated and interpreted. One of the two sections of this volume deals with the old and recent finds of coins. The historiography of the old findings, which is a valuable contribution by Joe Cribb, forms part of the first section 'Discoveries: Old and Recent', while Savita Sharma brings to light the details of a recently discovered Kushan coin hoard. Analytical study of coins, epigraphs and monuments by Osmund Bopearachchi and Hans Loeschner, is the other section which interprets the 'Chronology and Succession' of the Kushans.

Archaeological remains of the Kushan sites, particularly in north and north west of the subcontinent, if viewed in terms of settlement hierarchy and urbanization, certainly add new dimension to the early history of India. Buried remains of Kushan period are characterized by the profuse use of burnt bricks, organized settlements, monumental structures, daily utility items both locally made and imported, ritual objects, personal ornaments, coins etc. Another noteworthy feature is the uniformity of culture content, expanding beyond the dynastic history, both in space and time. Settlements are small to large, indicating hierarchy from village, township to cosmopolitan city. The historiographic account of monuments and early historic sites by Himanshu Prabha Ray gives an overview of the nature and comprehension of the archaeological findings of the nucleus of Kushan domain. Site based studies of Sanghol, by C. Margabandhu, one of the excavators, and Birendra Pratap Singh, who horizontally exposed Kushan settlement of Khairadih, reveal nature and hierarchy of two settlements located in the west and the east of the Kushan cultural zone. Identification and nature of urbanization in the Ganga Plain is another important historical debate. Vidula Jayaswal and Manoj Kumar assess the nature and explore the possibilities for identification of second historical urbanization in the Ganga Plain through the excavated remains of Kushan settlements. All these articles are compiled in the section entitled, Architecture and Settlement: Kushan Archaeology'.

Both, folk and religious themes of the early Common Era, were the major inspiring forces for artistic amplitude. Thus, the modeled forms, on durable medium like stone and not so durable as terracotta, mirror a number of socio-religious undercurrents prevalent in the contemporary society, The multi-faceted creativity of figurative forms is the theme of section. `Art Expressions : Kushan Portraits and Compositions'. The royal portraits are one of the rare carved compositions of Indian art, which are special contribution of the Kushans. T.K. Biswas and Savita Sharma throw fresh light on these compositions. Debate on iconographic features and form of divinities likewise are other significant aspects which have been dwelt upon by Arundhati Banerjee and Maruti Nandan Prasad Tiwari. Vidula jayaswal and Meera Sharma in this very section attempt identification of the ritualistic utility and skills of craftsmanship of terracotta compositions.

Each invention and initiation when adopted as culture trait/tradition, continues for long time. So is the case with the techniques and styles of the Kushan period. Be it minting of coins, carving of icons, skills of craftsmanship or construction of buildings. impact of Kushan expertise has both spatial and chronological expansion. Three articles which make up the theme, 'Expansion and Continuity: Kushan Styles and Techniques', deal with diverse categories of antiquities and areas. Impact of Kushan art style in Central Asia, has been shown by Chhaya Bhattacharya-Haesner. While Prashanta Kulkarni writes on the continuity of Kushan coinage in the subsequent periods, Chongfeng Li argues for impact of two major stone chiseling centres of Kushan period in India, on the sculptures of medieval period in China.

This volume is an outcome of the International Seminar entitled, ‘Kushan Glory and Its Contemporary Challenges', which was organized by the Bharat Kala Bhavan, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (India), between October 3 and 5, 2008. It was decided in the valedictory session by the learned participants, that proceeding of the seminar be published, for which revised articles of the participants were proposed to be sent to me with in a specific time schedule. Many articles reached promptly, but some were quite delayed, which delayed the processing of printing of this volume. In spite of this I would like to put on record my satisfaction about the enthusiastic response and cooperation of the contributors, due to which this volume is in a position to reach the book shelves. Most of the papers were presented in the seminar, but there are a few which were invited. Inclusion of these was intended to fill the gaps, in the otherwise holistic format of this volume. In view to respect scholarship and expressive qualities of the authors, editor's pen has been used very sparingly. As a result, readers may find lack of uniformity in the style of references and spelling etc. Seeing the diverse nature of the articles and realizing the conviction of authors, this situation was unavoidable. A bibliography based on the references cited by the contributors of the volume. has been compiled, which obviously would be handy for students and scholars.


  Editor's Note vii
  List of Abbreviations xiii
  List of Contributors xv
  Discoveries: Old And Recent  
1 Rediscovering the Kushans 3
2 Recent Discovery of Copper Coins Hoard of Kushan Period From 57
  Hegemony: Kushan Empire And Out-Posts  
3 Eastern Baktria Under Da Yuezhi Hegemony 79
4 The Northern Frontier Region of the Kushan Empire 87
  Chronology And Succession  
5 Chronology of the Early Kushans: New Evidence 123
6 Kanishka in Context with the Historical Buddha and Kushan Chronology 137
  Policies And Patronage: Kushan Religion  
7 Policy, Patronage, and the Shrinking Pantheon of the Kushans 197
8 Kaniska and the Sarvastivada Synod 218
9 Devaputra Kushan 223
10 Lady Donors and their Contribution to the Religious Institutions in Kushan Period 231
  Architecture And Settlement: Kushan Archaeology  
11 Colonical Archaeology and Buddhism: Punjab Plains in the Early Centuries AD 239
12 Architectural and Cultural Facets of Kushan Settlement at Sanghol, District Ludhiana, Punjab A Study on the Basis of Excavated Remins 255
13 Kushan Township of Khairadih: An Appraisal of Excavated Remains 273
14 Urban Traits and Kushan Settlements of Ganga Plain 297
  Art Expressions: Kushan Portraits and Compositions  
15 Kushan Portraits 319
16 Vajrapani and Vajra in Kushan Art 324
17 Jaina Images of Kushan Period: Study in Mutuality 334
18 Folk Practices and Clay Art of Kuhan Period 343
  Expansion And Continuity: Kushan Styles and Techniques  
19 Khotan: A Kushan Outpost in Central Asia 361
20 Kushan Influence on Gupta Coinage: Continuity and Change 368
21 Gandhara, Mathura and Buddhist Sculptures of Mediaeval China 378
  Bibliography 393
  Index 443

Sample Pages

Item Code: NAO757 Author: Vidula Jayaswal Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2012 Publisher: Aryan Books International ISBN: 9788173054273 Language: English Size: 12 inch X 9.0 inch Pages: 472 (Throughout Color and B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 2.4 kg
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