Gandhara School Of Art : Salient Features


The Gandhara school of art flourished in the north western frontier of India and some part of Afghanistan. Gandhara art flourished during the period of Kushanas from 1st to 5th century. Gandhara is different from the anionic tradition of early Indian sculpture and anthropomorphic traditions of Greco-Roman art. It is also called Indo Greek art by some historians. It represents the stage when foreign elements were Indianized at greater pace.

Major places of its development were Bimaran, Hastnagsr, Sakra, Dehri, Hadda etc.


  • SUBJECT MATTER :- Mahatma Buddha and his life was the major subject of school. Bodhisattva and other idols, images of Hindu gods were made in this style. Gandhara sculptures were painted and covered with a thin layer of gold.
  • EVOLUTION OF BUDDHA'S IMAGE :- as per some historians the Buddha's image was first developed here, earlier Buddha was represented through symbols like tree, footprints etc.
  • LIFE SIZE IMAGES OF MAHATMA BUDDHA :- in this school of art life like statues of Buddha were made in large numbers and Gandhara school focused on human representation of Buddha.
  • HELLENISTIC INFLUENCE ON BUDDHA'S IMAGES :- Gandhara artist leaned on classical Roman art but basic iconography remained Indian. The Buddha's image marks the trait of Indian tradition in such a manner that rendered the Divine figures of the Greco- Roman pantheon. The way Buddha's image stands upright as opposed to sitting, and the clothing and Humanistic features were seen as features prevalent in Greek culture. Although it was influenced by Greek culture but remained Indian in spirit.
  • DEPICTION OF HUMAN FEATURES :- ALl the figures depict realistic features of the human body with proper accuracy and physical details particularly in the presentation of muscles, moustaches,etc. The halo around the head of idols depict the Indian features. The Gandhara art of school represented the Buddha's face as an oval face with a straight nose, deep eyes and wavy appearance of hair, long earlobes, urna in the middle of the forehead and a gloomy and thoughtful face. The whole idea depicts human features.
  • STRESS ON PHYSICAL BEAUTY :- Attention was paid towards imparting physical beauty while lavish ornaments were used.
  • FEMALE FIGURES :- image of mother goddess remained another feature of school. Images of the mother goddess appeared with symbolic importance such as seen at sanchi.
  • ATTENTION IN DETAILS :- Utmost focus was paid while making and details especially during muscles or moustache making. Single details were kept in mind while even detailing of clothes.
  • MATERIALS USED :- Good materials were used like plaster, clay, limestone, Granite. Sculptures were originally painted and gilded while terracotta and stucco became the dominant medium among those who could not afford stone while it provided great plasticity.
  • INFLUENCE ON STUPAS AND MONASTERIES :- During 1st to 4th century A.D. a large number of monasteries were built, fifteen of which were found in Rawalpindi and Peshawar. Buddhist sculptures had an influence on Greek art. Certain changes like the large height of stupas and ornamentation of structures made them look more attractive.


From the above discussion the. Impact of Gandhara art can be seen over the architecture and sculptures. It Gave new shape to Buddhist idols and divine figures and led to the emergence of human figurines.


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