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Pakistan is, to us, not an unknown country, especially for the few who have been

there. We've seen it in the news and have heard x. These reports are not to be
dismissed, however, as even preparation of this text posed as latent risk in Pakistan.
However, our news headlines and television screens depict only one part of the
truth, as Pakistan still has much more to offer. The country is especially rich in
cultural history that pays off to explore/discover (DEPENDS ON WHAT PART OF
CONTEXT YOU WANT TO EMPHASIZE).

Our project seeks to engage with an especially interesting chapter/era from


pakistani history, namely Gandhara. Gandhara itself can refer to a region, as well as
an art form. The central region of Gandhara was known as the area in the modernday city of Peshawar (HEY MALIK, IS PESHAWAR NOT A PART OF PERSIAN HISTORY? I
DON'T REMEMBER) in the northwest of Pakistan. However, the art form known as
Gandhara spans a far greater reach, from Kabul to Islamabad and includes the Swat
District/Valley, to the north of Peshawar.

The culture of Gandhara, as we are witnessing through recent historical discoveries,


has had numerous influences that shaped it through the course of history. Two of
the greatest culturally influential origins (CHECK MY AWKWARD ENGLISH HERE, MY
ENGLISH IS BAD) lies with Greece and Buddhism. Greece, because it spans from the
conquest of Alexander the Great until the middle of the 4th century, after the fall of
the Roman Empire and Christianity became established. Buddhist, which later
succeeded in the region and became recognized at the turn of the century.
Nonetheless, the art form that developed through such turmoil would certainly
appear to us as familiar, it being relatively known through the styles of GrecoRoman antiquity.

The region of Gandhara, as opposed to the artistry, played an enormous role in the
history of Buddhism, for it was in this particular region, as opposed to in India, its
known country of origin, that the first personification of Buddha appeared.
Gandhara also played an enormous part in mainstream Buddhism, through the
development of Mahayana or "Great Vehicle," one of the two branches of Buddhism.
Finally, the economic benefits of having a trade route through Gandhara introduced
Buddhism to East Asia. The most recognizable and extraordinary symbol/witness of
Gandhara culture was present in the rock-embedded statues of the Buddhas of
Bamiyan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 before our very eyes. One of
the most impressive endeavors/creations of mankind's history, hundreds of years
old, vanished in the blink of an eye --- is there a more shocking image of the
destructive power of ideologies?

The greatest period in history of Gandhara culture extended from the first to the
fifth centuries and is commonly associated with the rule of the Kushanas. The
Kushanas were, although nonbelievers of Buddhism, tolerant thereof and allowed
open displays of Gandharan art. Almost all artistic creations that we know of today
can be attributed to Buddhism, although there were simultaneously other Religious
groups present.

The exhibition (IS THIS REALLY AN EXHIBITION) traces the development of


Gandharan culture and historically contextualizes it. It is arranged in such a fashion
to represent a monastery with a stupa, the symbol for Buddha and his
teachings/doctrines. The pathway circles clockwise, in the direction that Buddhists
would walk. As a brief outline of the exhibition path, it would be starting from the
conquest of Alexander the Great, with relevant cultural and political background
presented, followed by the establishment, and influences, and shaping of Buddhism
as well as other relgious traditions in the region. Collectively the exhibition holds
approximately 300 unique objects, the origins and uses of which will be digitally
illustrated and compiled by the RWTH Aachen Center for Documentation and
Conservation of Architectural Studies. Additionally, the physical locations of these
objects will be digitally reconstructed and presented for the first time as part of this
exhibition. As part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between architectural studies
and informatics, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Informatics at RWTH
Aachen, the Buddha statues from Bamiyan will be brought to life, with help from
computer reconstructions for the exhibition.

We could have only accomplished this ambitious project because of the involvement
and support of various persons and institutions. To them goes our deepest
gratitude. First we would like to thank the lenders (THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE OBJECTS
AND SUCH, I ASSUME) for their priceless treasures to be displayed, most notably the
Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) Islamabad, whose director Dr.
Fazal Dad Kakar was our most important contact and who coordinated with us from
Pakistan. The DOAM operated under the Pakistani Ministry of Culture, which
consistently cooperated our plans with great enthusiasm and generosity.
Additionally, the Lahore Museum, the Peshawar Museum, and the SSAQ Museum of
Archaeology and Ethnology of the University of Peshawar deserve our deepest
thanks for numerous contributions. Aside from Pakistan, which provided major
contributions, we were able to obtain contributions from Afghanistan. Therefore, we
would like to extend our thanks to the Kabul Museum, the Ministry of Information
and Culture, as well as the Governess of Bamiyan. Finally, we extend our deepest

thanks to the numerous European donors, who contributed additional objects for our
care.