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A painting is equal to thousand words, means a beautiful painting is equal to million of words. Paintings are one of the oldest art forms -- throughout history artists have played an important role in documenting social movements, spiritual beliefs and general life and culture.

History Of Paintings: The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from...

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Introduction to Kushana - Indian Painting

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:42 AM
Buddha from Balawaste


First to Third Century A.D.

The Kushanas were the most powerful rulers after the Sungas in North India. Their empire extended far beyond the normal known frontiers of India. In fact, having moved on to India from Central Asia, they had their empire extending from Central Asia through the modern territory of Afghanistan and Pakistan to beyond Mathura in India. That is how there was a distinct school in the North-Western Frontier, with a commingling of Indian, Graeco-Roman and Iranian elements, which with Chinese influences made up a strange and interesting school of art, offering fascinating facets of culture for studies. It is amazing how various Indian motifs have found excellent expression and interpretation in Central Asian sculpture and painting.

Halisalasya danceThis painting from Central Asia, in the absence of paintings of this period in India proper, forms the only source for study of the painter's art of the Kushana period. A painting from Dandan Oiliq of a woman rising from the lotus pool after her bath, with a child close to her, closely following similar Indian representations, also recalls the expression of poets like Kalidasa, of greater length of stalk of lotus, visible in summer, with the dwindling level of water just reaching the waist of damsels, uddandapadmam grihadirghikanam narinitambadvayasam babhuva. The painting of Siva with three heads one fearful, the central one calm, and the other feminine reminds us at once of similar figures of the Gupta-Vakataka and early medieval age from India, the tradition itself however being far earlier. 

A painting of Buddha from Balawaste, now in the National Museum Collection of Central Asian Antiquities, is the most interesting of all representations of Buddha from anywhere in the world. This is a painting of the Kushana period with a clear srivatsa mark on the Master's chest. We know that as a mahapUrusha Buddha has also this mark but always covered by the cloak. It has never been presented in any of the Indian representations of Buddha. The mountain Meru with the serpent Vasuki wound round it in a pool is symbol of the churning of the ocean by the gods and demons to bring out ambrosia. Chandrama, according to the Vedas, is ambrosia that arose from the mind of the Viratpurusha, chandrama manaso jatah. Buddha is here represented as Viratpurusha in the Visvarupa aspect.

Mahajananaka JatakaBut the most important of the symbols here shown on his body are the two on the arms, a flaming pillar or a lotus, topped by three flames. The flames are shown as leaves, as in the case also of the vajra symbol shown on Buddha's forearms. If we recall the identical symbols of the flaming pillar on lotus from Amaravati in the Krishna valley representing standing Buddha and the significance of the superiority of Buddha, dharma and sangha over Brahma represented as lotus, and pillar represented as Siva combining Agni, seen in the flames, we should really wonder how the thoughts spread to such great distances. Only here we do not have the solar wheel and the feet on the top and bottom of the flaming pillar to suggest Vishnu and Surya, respectively.

The garland-bearers with a floral rhizome resting on the shoulder as in the case of similar figures from Mathura and Amaravati of a contemporary date remind us of how closely the motif of a style of the Kushana period resembles contemporary Indian patterns elsewhere also in India.

Writer- C. Sivaramamurti

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