Buddha stories on display at Peshawar Museum

Daily Times, June 16, 2008

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- There are 74 Buddha stories carved in stone, which are on display in Peshawar Museum, describing all happenings in his life.

Prof Fidaullah Sehri, former director of the Museum and ex-chairman of the Archaeology and Fine Arts Department, Peshawar University, told US Ambassador Anne W Patterson during her visit to the museum.

NWFP Minister of Culture Syed Aaqil Shah and Director Archaeology and Museums Malik Saleh Muhammad KhanYusufzai, Hazara University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Ihsan Ali Khan and Prof Sehri received Patterson, who was accompanied by her husband.

The director archaeology briefed the guests about history of the museum and Gandhara region and Sehri explained the art of Gandhara in the galleries.

Sehri said the life stories of Buddha were written in Gandhara and in their light the sculptors carved them in stones in this region. Emperor Kanishka, who ruled the vast Kushan Empire from his capital Peshawar in 78 AD, patronised the Buddhist art.

He said Buddhism took a new form in Gandhara, known as Mahayana Buddhism, during Kanishka rule. He said majority of the Buddhists of the world belong to Mahayana Buddhism.

Sehri said historians called Gandhara art Graeco Buddhist and Romano Buddhist art, but its theme was Buddhism and Bodhisattvas like Amitabb, Maitreya, Aralkiteshavara and other deities were carved in schist stone in this region for worship.

He gave reasons for the development of the art i.e. prosperity in Gandhara due to trade and commerce with Central Asia and the west on the Silk Route. The prosperity declined when the Silk Route were closed. Thus Gandhara art came to an end slowly after some centuries, he added.

The US ambassador, her husband and other guests admired the rich collection of Gandhara art in the Peshawar Museum.