Kanishka’s Reign Brings Flowering of the Arts (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: Emperor Kanishka, the third in a line of Kushān rulers, was a prominent patron of art and scholarship.
Summary of Event
The Kushān Empire lasted from the late first to the third century c.e. and reached its greatest extent during the reign of Kanishka. The Kushāns were eastern Iranian people of Central Asian origin who established a large territory that extended from Varanasi on the river Ganges, through modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and Bactria, up to the Oxus River. They adopted Buddhism as their official religion and became active patrons of art and learning. During the early years of the reign of Kanishka, the first representations of the Buddha image in anthropomorphic form appeared. In addition, the emperor sponsored a great Buddhist event, the Fourth Buddhist Council, at which attending scholars wrote commentaries on the canon, and Kanishka became one of the vigorous supporters of the Mahāyāna doctrine.
Because of the strategic location of their empire, the Kushāns were at the crossroads of all main trade routes and had access to ports on the Arabian Sea, a vital trade link between the Roman Empire and China. Therefore, it is not surprising to recognize different religious and cultural influences in their visual art. They issued golden coins depicting Iranian and Hindu deities, Greco-Roman gods and goddesses, and images of Buddha, all accompanied with relevant...
(The entire section is 1620 words.)
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