Another new question

John C. Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Fri Sep 7 17:18:55 UTC 2001

Joanna and other concerned members of the list,

Note: If you want the attachments e-mail me directly. The listserve
is configured to deject them! Why?

  This doesn't mean much with out the pictures.

The very few, I only know of four or five, first century B.C.
bodhisattva figures from Swat and Gandhara and they are not depicted
with these amulets (Attachment 1). This style is loosely connected to
the Parthian period on the basis of some sculptural techniques

With the advent of the next generation of images, which are carved in
a more Eastern Hellenic style, the amulets exist on most Bodhisattva
images.  For example, The inscribed  bodhisattva Maitreya from Taxila
dated to the 110 of Azes (A.D. 52/3) offered by Christie's
(Attachment 2) a few years ago [actual date might be a problem but it
is an early piece any way] wears a fully developed array of these.
this points to a beginning of the Christian era date for the
introduction of the amulet type into Buddhism.

They are hung in the manner of a Brahmanical  sacred thread.  A few
physical examples of them are known some in the Taxila museum
(Attachment 3) and one form the Ahin Posh site  in Afghanistan
(Attachment 4) which contained the famous Kanishka Boddo coin. I have
never actually seen the Ahin Posh one but I have photos both it and
of the Taxila ones.

All of these point to a "pre-sculptural-representation" existence
that I know of no way to track. It is possible that the Italian teams
who excavated the pre Buddhist graves in Gandharan area might have
found something.  I believe one of the excavators was named
Sebastiano Tusa.

The Russian excavation of first century B.C. Kushan royal graves at
Tillya-Tepe yielded lots of gold objects but none of these so they
probably did not come into the area with the Kushans but one of their
predecessors either the Sakas or the Parthians

The same design, is still made and used in Nepal where it can hold
either dharanis or mantras for protection from disease and evil.

I hope this is useful.

John Huntington


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