The INDO-PARTHIAN KINGDOM was ruled by the Gondopharid dynasty and
other rulers who were a group of ancient kings from
* 1 Gondophares I and his successors
* 2 Archaeology and sources
* 2.1 Religion of the Indo-Parthians * 2.2 Representation of Indo-Parthian devotees * 2.3 Buddhist sculptures * 2.4 Stone palettes
GONDOPHARES I AND HIS SUCCESSORS
Portrait of Gondophares , founder of the Indo-Parthian kingdom. He wears a headband, earrings, a necklace, and a cross-over jacket with round decorations. King Abdagases I being crowned by the Greek goddess Tyche , on the reverse of some of his coins.
Gondophares I originally seems to have been a ruler of
what is today eastern Iran, probably a vassal or relative of the
Apracarajas . Around 20–10 BCE, he made conquests in the former
After the death of
Gondophares I, the empire started to fragment. The
name or title
Gondophares was adapted by
Sarpedones , who become
GONDOPHARES II and was possibly son of the first Gondophares. Even
though he claimed to be the main ruler, Sarpedones’ rule was shaky
and he issued a fragmented coinage in Sind, eastern
There were other minor kings: Sanabares was an ephemeral usurper in Seistan, who called himself Great King of Kings, and there was also a second Abdagases Coin, a ruler named Agata in Sind, another ruler called Satavastres Coin, and an anonymous prince who claimed to be brother of the king Arsaces, in that case an actual member of the ruling dynasty in Parthia .
But the Indo-Parthians never regained the position of
and from the middle of the 1st century AD the
Kushans under Kujula
Kadphises began absorbing the northern Indian part of the kingdom. The
Pacores (perhaps before 100 AD) only ruled in
ARCHAEOLOGY AND SOURCES
The city of Taxila is thought to have been a capital of the Indo-Parthians. Large strata were excavated by Sir John Marshall with a quantity of Parthian-style artifacts. The nearby temple of Jandial is usually interpreted as a Zoroastrian fire temple from the period of the Indo-Parthians.
Some ancient writing describe the presence of the Indo-Parthians in the area, such as the story of Saint Thomas the Apostle , who was recruited as a carpenter to serve at the court of king "Gudnaphar" (thought to be Gondophares) in India. The Acts of Thomas describes in chapter 17 Thomas' visit to king Gudnaphar in northern India; chapters 2 and 3 depict him as embarking on a sea voyage to India, thus connecting Thomas to the west coast of India.
As Senior points out, this Gudnaphar has usually been identified with the first Gondophares, who has thus been dated after the advent of Christianity, but there is no evidence for this assumption, and Senior’s research shows that Gondophares I could be dated even before 1 AD. If the account is even historical, Saint Thomas may have encountered one of the later kings who bore the same title. Gondophares on horse, from his coinage. He wears a short jacket and baggy trousers, rather typical of Parthian clothing. Portrait on Gondophares on one of his coins.
The Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana is related by Philostratus in Life of Apollonius Tyana to have visited India, and specifically the city of Taxila around 46 CE. He describes constructions of the Greek type, probably referring to Sirkap , and explains that the Indo-Parthian king of Taxila, named Phraotes , received a Greek education at the court of his father and spoke Greek fluently: "Tell me, O King, how you acquired such a command of the Greek tongue, and whence you derived all your philosophical attainments in this place?" -"My father, after a Greek education, brought me to the sages at an age somewhat too early perhaps, for I was only twelve at the time, but they brought me up like their own son; for any that they admit knowing the Greek tongue they are especially fond of, because they consider that in virtue of the similarity of his disposition he already belongs to themselves."
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is a surviving 1st century guide
to the routes commonly being used for navigating the Arabian Sea. It
describes the presence of Parthian kings fighting with each other in
the area of Sindh, a region traditionally known at that time as
"Scythia" due to the previous rule of the
An inscription from Takht-i-Bahi bears two dates, one in the regnal year 26 of the Maharaja Guduvhara (again thought to be a Gondophares), and the year 103 of an unknown era.
RELIGION OF THE INDO-PARTHIANS
Devotees at Zoroastrian fire-altar.
To the contrary of the
Indo-Greeks or Indo-Scythians, there are no
explicit records of
Indo-Parthian rulers supporting Buddhism, such as
religious dedications, inscriptions, or even legendary accounts. Also,
Indo-Parthian coins generally closely follow Greek
numismatics, they never display the Buddhist triratna symbol (apart
from the later
Sases ), nor do they ever use depictions of the
elephant or the bull, possible religious symbols which were profusely
used by their predecessors. They are thought to have retained
Zoroastrianism , being of Iranian extraction themselves. This Iranian
mythological system was inherited from them by the later
ruled from the
REPRESENTATION OF INDO-PARTHIAN DEVOTEES
On their coins and in the art of Gandhara, Indo-Parthians are depicted with short crossover jackets and large baggy trousers, possibly supplemented by chap -like over-trousers. Their jackets are adorned with rows of decorative rings or medals. Their hair is usually bushy and contained with a headband, a practise largely adopted by the Parthians from the 1st century CE.
Individuals in Indo-Parthian attire are sometimes shown as actors in Buddhist devotional scenes. It is usually considered that most of the excavations that were done at Sirkap near Taxila by John Marshall relate to Indo-Parthian layers, although more recent scholarship sometimes relates them to the Indo-Greeks instead. These archaeological researches provided a quantity of Hellenistic artifacts combined with elements of Buddhist worship (stupas ). Some other temples, such as nearby Jandial may have been used as a Zoroastrian fire temple .
The statues found at
Sirkap in the late Scythian to Parthian level
(level 2, 1–60 CE) suggest an already developed state of Gandharan
art at the time or even before Parthian rule. A multiplicity of
statues, ranging from Hellenistic gods, to various Gandharan lay
devotees, are combined with what are thought as some of the early
representations of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Today, it is still
unclear when the
Main article: Stone palette
Numerous stone palettes found in
Very often these palettes represent people in Greek dress in
mythological scenes, but a few of them represent people in Parthian
dress (head-bands over bushy hair, crossed-over jacket on a bare
chest, jewelry, belt, baggy trousers). A palette from the Naprstek
Indo-Parthian man hunting. *
Indo-Parthian revelers. *
SILK ROAD TRANSMISSION OF BUDDHISM
Some pocket of Parthian rule remained in the East, even after the
takeover by the Sassanids in 226. From the 2nd century several
Central-Asian Buddhist missionaries became in the Chinese capital
* An Shih Kao , was a Parthian prince, who made the first known translations of Hinayana Buddhist texts into Chinese (148–170). * An Hsuan , was a Parthian merchant who became a monk in China 181 AD. * Tan-ti (c. 254), a Parthian monk. * An Fajin (281–306), a monk of Parthian origins.
MAIN INDO-PARTHIAN RULERS
Coins of the Indo-Parthian king Abdagases, in which his clothing is clearly apparent. He wears baggy trousers, rather typical of Parthian clothing. Coins of the Indo-Parthian king Abdagases, in which his clothing is clearly apparent. He wears baggy trousers and a crossover jacket.
* Gondophares I (c. 20 BC – first years AD) Coin * Gondophares II Sarpedones (first years AD – c. 20 AD)Coin * Abdagases I (first years AD – mid-1st century AD) Coin * Gondophares III Gudana , previously Orthagnes (c. 20 AD – 30 AD) * Gondophares IV Sases , (mid-1st century AD) * Ubouzanes , (late-1st century AD) * Pacores (late 1st century AD) Coin
* ^ Photographic reference: "The dynastic art of the Kushans",
Rosenfield, figures 278–279
* ^ The chronology of the Gondopharid kings has long been
uncertain, predominantly based on coins. This reconstruction is based
* ^ Description of the Hellenistic urbanism of Taxila:
* "Taxila, they tell us, is about as big as Nineveh, and was fortified fairly well after the manner of Greek cities" (Life of Apollonius Tyana, II 20) * "I have already described the way in which the city is walled, but they say that it was divided up into narrow streets in the same irregular manner as in Athens, and that the houses were built in such a way that if you look at them from outside they had only one story, while if you went into one of them, you at once found subterranean chambers extending as far below the level of the earth as did the chambers above." (Life of Apollonius Tyana, II 23)
* ^ (Life of Apollonius Tyana, II 29) * ^ (Life of Apollonius Tyana, II 31) * ^ Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chap 38 * ^ Rosenfield, p130. * ^ Described in "Rome's enemies, Parthians and Sassanid Persians", ISBN 0-85045-688-6 * ^ "Parthians, from about the 1st century AD, seem to have preferred to show off their carefully tonsured hair, usually only wearing a fillet of thick ribbon; before then, the Scythian cap or bashlyk was worn more frequently". In "Parthians and Sassanid Parthians" Peter Willcox ISBN 0-85045-688-6 , p12 * ^ Pierfrancesco Gallieri, in "Crossroads of Asia": "The parallels are so striking that it is not excluded that the objects discovered in Taxila and dated to between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE were in reality produced earlier, maybe by artisans who had followed the Greeks kings during their retreat from Bactria to India" p211 (in French in the original) * ^ "Let us remind that in Sirkap , stone palettes were found at all excavated levels. On the contrary, neither Bhir-Mound, the Maurya city preceding Sirkap on the Taxila site, nor Sirsukh, the Kushan city succeeding her, did deliver any stone palettes during their excavations", in "Les palettes du Gandhara", p89. "The terminal point after which such palettes are not manufactured anymore is probably located during the Kushan period. In effect, neither Mathura nor Taxila (although the Sirsukh had only been little excavated), nor Begram , nor Surkh Kotal , neither the great Kushan archaeological sites of Soviet Central Asia