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Ancient region of the north-west Indian subcontinent centred between the Indus and Kabul rivers north-east of Peshawar, Pakistan. It is first recorded in the late 6th century bc as an Achaemenid province in a rock inscription at Bisitun in Iran. The term is also applied to the Buddhist art and architecture of c. 1st–5th century ad from the north-west region and eastern Afghanistan. Gandharan art shows a combination of Indian, Hellenistic and Iranian influences and comprises reliefs, primarily of schist, illustrating stories on the life or previous incarnations (jātakas) of the Buddha (see fig.), and schist, stucco or clay images of the Buddha (see fig.), bodhisattvas and subsidiary deities (see Indian subcontinent, §V, 5, (ii)). Sites include Butkara, Jamalgarhi, Loriyan Tangai, Panr, Ranigat, Sahri Bahlol, Saidu Sharif, Shah-ji-ki-Dheri, Takht-i-Bahi and Taxila in Pakistan; and Bamiyan, Fondukistan, Guldara, Hadda, Sardar, Tepe and ...


Trudy S. Kawami

[Pers. Kūh-i Khwāja]

Dramatic basalt outcrop that rises from the marshes of Lake Hamun in Iranian Sistan near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the south side are the pale mud-brick ruins of Ghaga-shahr, a walled complex often called a palace and usually dated to the mid-Parthian period (1st century ad; see Parthian). On the summit is a small fortification, and numerous Islamic tombs and shrines dot the upper ridges. The striking setting may well be responsible for the continued veneration of the site variously identified as Mt Ushida of the Zoroastrian Avesta, the site of Zoroaster’s preaching, the seat of one of the Three Wise Men of the Christmas story, the castle of Rustam, a hero of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of Kings’), the Persian national epic, and the last resting-place of a Muslim holy man.

The Ghaga-shahr ruins consist of a domed entrance suite, a courtyard whose north side is a terraced wall, and a set of buildings including a presumed fire temple on top of the terrace. Two main building phases can be discerned. The first phase established the basic plan of the site, with the entrance suite, the court, and the north terrace with its façade of applied Doric-style columns and architrave with running volute ornament. Beneath the terrace is a vaulted gallery or cryptoporticus lit by windows placed between the applied columns. This gallery was extensively painted, with a coffered ceiling whose panels alternately held elaborate rosettes and small classicizing figures, an illusionistic cornice with a beribboned laurel band, and a series of large figures, apparently deities, painted on the walls. Remains of paintings in the window recesses show that they too had coffered ceilings, and one window had a row of five male figures (Herzfeld’s ‘spectators’) facing the gallery, in early Sasanian style. The Sasanian style of the gallery paintings, as well as a stucco panel in the doorway of the entrance suite, demonstrates that the first phase extended at least into the early Sasanian period....


George Michell

Temple site in the Tiruchirapalli District, Tamil Nadu, India, situated on an artificial island on the Kaveri River. One of the greatest religious centres of the south, Srirangam attracts pilgrims annually for the Vaikuntha Ekadasi festival in honour of Vishnu. The site contains two large temple complexes, the Vaishnava Ranganatha and the Shaiva Jambukeshvara, as well as numerous shrines and bathing ghats. Tamil literature of c. 3rd–7th centuries attests its religious importance for devotees of both Shiva and Vishnu, but later it became a centre for the development of mainstream Vaishnavism, culminating with the philosopher–saint Ramanuja in the late 11th century and the early 12th.

The Ranganatha, with its unique seven enclosures, is the largest temple complex in south India (see fig.). It is dedicated to the reclining form of Vishnu, supported on the primal waters by the coils of the 1000-hooded snake of eternity, Ananta. Koil Olugu...