Gandhara Connections

Dipankara Jataka (The Story of the Ascetic Megha and the Buddha Dipankara),ca. 2nd century Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara, Swat Valley), The Met Museum

Bagri Foundation supports the Classical Art Research Centre in Oxford since 2016 for their project researching Gandharan Art: Gandharan Connections. Our support has recently been extended to 2021, which includes an Artist in Residence for the first time. Ali Kazim, based in Pakistan, will be in residence athe Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford in Summer 2019. This aligns with our strategic aim to ensure that traditional art is brought into a contemporary conversation. More details about the residency can be found here.

During the first few centuries AD a flourishing production of mainly Buddhist art emerged in Gandhara, an area very roughly corresponding to northern Pakistan, which was at the time part of the Kushan Empire. It is characterized especially by sculptural reliefs used to adorn Buddhist shrines. This art often drew upon and adapted Greek and Roman conventions which had developed several thousand kilometres to the west, in respect to styles, compositions, dress, mythological imagery, and the use of lifelike and expressive figures. There has been intense interest in this archaeological heritage for well over a century. International museums contain thousands of Gandharan artefacts and archaeologists in Pakistan continue to make important new discoveries. But many things about Gandharan art are still only partly understood, including its chronology, the patterns of its production, and its still puzzling links to other regions of the ancient world.

The Gandhara Connections project is a three-year initiative by the Classical Art Research Centre to pool knowledge and stimulate new insights into Gandharan art and its links to Greece and Rome, thousands of kilometres to the west. The project includes annual workshops, lectures, publications and an online hub with resources on Gandharan art and Phase two will expand on this through a contemporary artist in residence. This project is also supported by the Neil Kreitman Foundation.

Find out more information about the project here.

About Classical Art Research Centre
The Classical Art Research Centre, Oxford University, leads and supports research on ancient art. At its heart is the Beazley Archive, which includes the world’s largest collection of images of ancient figure-decorated pottery.