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Gandharan Sculpture from the Alan D. and Ann K. Wolfe Collection

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Permanent Collection
2/6/2022 - 1/3/2023
Organizing institution: The University of Virginia, McIntire Department of Art
The ancient region of Gandhara was situated in what is today northwest Pakistan and neighboring regions of Afghanistan. A spur of the great Silk Road—the network of trade and pilgrimage routes that stretched from northeast Asia to the Mediterranean Sea—passed through the region and was a source of considerable wealth. Many temples and monasteries dotted the land, and the cultural influence of Gandhara was felt far beyond its boundaries. As the westernmost part of the Indian subcontinent, the area was historically a meeting place of eastern and western cultures. Though it was always considered a part of ancient India, in the 6th century BCE it was for a time part of the Persian Empire, and in the 4th century BCE, it was conquered by Alexander the Great’s forces.

Though the Buddha never visited Gandhara, it became a second holy land of Buddhism. A distinctive sculptural style emerged in the region and flourished from the 1st to the 5th centuries CE, first mostly done in stone and later largely in stucco. The sculpture of Gandhara combines Hellenistic and provincial Roman influences on local idioms with Indian subjects (mostly Buddhist) and motifs. The sculptures were richly painted and gilded in antiquity, but only faint traces of this survive today.

Curated by Daniel Ehnbom, Associate Professor Emeritus, UVA Department of Art

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Exhibition Images (10)

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