Gandhara, at the foot of the Hindu Kush, was once the intersection of important trade routes. Along these trails a lively cultural exchange took place: Western antique culture reached Gandhara with the Asian campaign of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC). From India came Buddhism, and from central Asia nomadic peoples such as the Kushans. All these different influences merged into a unique Buddhist culture which flourished from the 1st to the 5th centuries. Here archaeologists have discovered sculptures which are among the earliest figurative representations of the Buddha.
In 2001 the monumental statues of the Buddha at Bamiyan in Afghanistan – once proud witnesses of Gandharan culture – were dynamited and destroyed. But this exhibition, for which Pakistani museums have loaned their treasures to the West for the first time attempts to show another side of this region.
Museum Rietberg Website