Gandharan Toilet-Trays: Some Reflections on Chronology

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
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Abstract

A thorough investigation on Gandharan toilet-trays, taking into consideration archaeological, social and religious data along with iconographic, stylistic and technical issues, is still to be done. The following notes are mainly aimed at suggesting a new perspective in the chronology of these fascinating finds, which, according to an apparently unshakable assumption, have been and are still considered as a bridge linking the Hellenistic (i.e. Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek) period and the threshold of the Kushan epoch. Toilet-trays are commonly thought of as a pre-Gandharan (and pre-Buddhist) chapter in the art of the North-West of the Indian Subcontinent or a preparatory as well as experimental stage (2nd and 1st centuries BCE) of Gandharan sculpture in its proper sense (from the 1st century CE onwards). G. Erdosy’s reconsideration of the archaeological data yielded by J. Marshall’s excavations at Sirkap, and the chronological shift deriving from it, indicate that the picture sketched above might not be the right one: since a major percent of Sirkap toilet-trays is very likely to be dated into the 1st or even the early 2nd century CE, we are compelled to re-evaluate their relationship with Gandharan art.

Gandharan Toilet-Trays: Some Reflections on Chronology

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

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References

DarS. R. Toilet trays from Gandhara and beginning of Hellenism in Pakistan Journal of Central Asia 1979 II 2 141 184

ErdosyG. TaddeiM.CallieriP. Taxila: Political History and Urban Structure South Asian Archaeology 1987 (Serie Orientale Roma LXVI) 1990 Rome 657 674

FrancfortH.-P. Les palettes du Gandhāra (MDAFA 23) 1979 Paris

HarleJ. C. TaddeiM.CallieriP. Artefacts of the Historical Periods from Bannu South Asian Archaeology 1987 (Serie Orientale Roma LXVI) 1990 Rome 643 655

LitvinskiïB. A.SedovA. V. Tepai shakh. Kul´tura i svyazi kushanskoï Baktrii 1983 Moscow

Lo MuzioC. CallieriP.FiligenziA. L’artigianato di lusso nel Nord-Ovest di epoca indo-greca, Saka e partica: i “piattelli per cosmetici” Il Maestro di Saidu Sharif. Alle origini dell’arte del Gandhara 2002 Rome 77 83

MarshallJ. Taxila 1951 Cambridge 3 vols

TanabeK. Greek, Roman and Parthian Influences on the Pre-Kushana Gandharan “Toilet-Trays” and Forerunners of Buddhist Paradise (Pâramitâ) Silk Road Art and Archaeology 2002 8 73 100

1

Harle 1990644-49figs. 1 6.

2

Dar 1976; Francfort 1979.

4

Marshall 1951II 493-498.

5

Litvinskiï & Sedov 198375-77pl. XI.

6

Francfort 1979.

8

Francfort 1979nos. 1-18.

16

Marshall 1951I 118.

17

Francfort 197990.

18

Erdosy 1990.

19

Erdosy 1990667.

21

Marshall 1951II 493-498.

22

Tanabe 2002.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Toilet-tray with the representations of Apollo and Daphne, from Sirkap (Taxila). Taxila Museum. After Francfort 1979, No. 1.
  • View in gallery
    Toilet-tray with the representation of a Nereid, from Sirkap (Taxila). Taxila Museum. After Francfort 1979, No. 37.
  • View in gallery
    Toilet-tray with a banquet scene. London, British Museum. After Francfort 1979, No. 27.
  • View in gallery
    Toilet-tray with the representation of a drinking couple, from Sirkap (Taxila). Karachi, National Museum of Pakistan. After Francfort 1979, No. 58.
  • View in gallery
    Toilet-tray with the representation of a drinking couple, from Sirkap (Taxila). Taxila Museum. After Francfort 1979, No. 82.
  • View in gallery
    Toilet-tray with the representation of drinking couples, from Sirkap (Taxila). Taxila Museum. After Francfort 1979, No. 77.

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