Different types of jewellery are so far found in these excavations. These include the strings of beads dangling from her girdle and below; the former even have pendants in the form of small squatting figures. From the discs at the ends of the massive earrings hang, fringe-like, small strings of beads, and part of her girdle is composed of round ribbed beads. The long pins stuck into her headdress are headed, not by figures but by auspicious symbols, such as the trident and the elephant god. The most intricate piece of jewellery depicted, however, hardly visible to the naked eye, is the clasp to the bandolier across the goddess's chest composed of a deer and a makara (a semi-aquatic mythical beast which plays an important part in Indianiconography). It is quite likely that in the real thing they would have been covered with granulation).
The characteristic sculpture of Gandhara during the first three or four centuries AD was produced, in vast quantities, for the Buddhists and their monasteries. Consequently, with the notable exception of Hariti, the figures with adornments are all masculine Bodhisattvas, decked in the finery of a local magnate (the Buddha, of course, wears no jewellery of any kind until much later). These favoured massive earrings, armlets and torques, often incorporating bird or animal forms. On their diadems and armlets can sometimes be seen the high-hunched animals of the Animal Style. Similarly one or two examples, possibly imports, of the Sarmatian and Scythian jewellery from Southern Russia have been found in India. On the other hand, there are examples of the tubular reliquaries almost invariably strung along the yajnopavitas (sacred thread) of the Bodhisattvas. First after the Gupta period (550 AD), the jewellery portrayed on statues becomes increasingly conventionalized and removed from the actual practice.
About the middle of the fifth century, Gandhara was conquered by groups of Chinese tribe often identified as the Huns or Hephthalites, thus bringing this major period of Buddhist patronage to a close. Still, a handful of ornaments attest to an ongoing Buddhist presence in Gandhara during the following centuries. A late sixth-century Buddha structure is a good example of the perpetuation of Gandharan-style images. However, important adjacent Buddhist communities continued to thrive in the Swat valley, Kashmir, and Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, sculptural production seen in the Kabul valley of Afghanistan follows the artistic tradition originally established in Gandhara Art. Like the monumental Gandharan torso, the sculpture found at Afghan sites such as Hadda, including a head of a Bodhisattva is quite naturalistic. Still, the inset garnet eyes and elaborate hairstyle are elements not seen in Gandhara, but rather are an expression of Afghan taste.
Ultimately, however, the stylistic roots of Buddhism in north India are reflected in another head from the site of "Hadda" that takes on the formal stylized features of Gupta-period images found in the Ganges River basin. The taste for classical forms eventually fades and by the eighth century, with the coming of Islam, the Buddhist tradition comes to an end in Afghanistan.
(Last Updated on : 09-01-2014)
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