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The Emergence Of Naturalism (Ca. 50–20 Bce)

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Chapter Summary

According to recent studies by Harry Falk and Richard Salomon, a date of 127 CE marks the beginning of the reign of the Kuṣāṇa king Kaniṣka. Commonly, either implicitly or explicitly, early Mathura sculpture is equated with Kuṣāṇa period sculpture. This historiographical trend has led to the misconception that the school of sculpture at Mathura arose and matured from the time of Kaniṣka. However, a careful examination of the evidence reveals that the early Kuṣāṇa mode of sculpture evolved gradually and seamlessly from an already mature and prolific tradition of stone sculptural production. The attribution of styles to a relative chronology in this obscure period of Indian art history is based on a series of comparative analyses. The sculptures that date to ca. 50 to 20 BCE continue the trend towards softness and naturalism of the early first century BCE.

Keywords: Indian art history; Kaniṣka; Kusana period; Mathura sculpture



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