HOME
The Info List - Indo-Parthian Kingdom


--- Advertisement ---



The Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
Kingdom was ruled by the Gondopharid dynasty and other rulers who were a group of ancient kings from Central Asia
Central Asia
that ruled parts of present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan
Pakistan
and northwestern India, during or slightly before the 1st century AD. For most of their history, the leading Gondopharid kings held Taxila
Taxila
(in the present Punjab
Punjab
province of Pakistan) as their residence, but during their last few years of existence the capital shifted between Kabul
Kabul
and Peshawar. These kings have traditionally been referred to as Indo-Parthians, as their coinage was often inspired by the Arsacid dynasty, but they probably belonged to a wider group of Iranian tribes who lived east of Parthia
Parthia
proper, and there is no evidence that all the kings who assumed the title Gondophares, which means ”Holder of Glory”, were even related.

Contents

1 Gondophares
Gondophares
I and his successors 2 Archaeology and sources

2.1 Religion of the Indo-Parthians 2.2 Representation of Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
devotees 2.3 Buddhist sculptures 2.4 Stone palettes

3 Silk Road transmission of Buddhism 4 Main Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
rulers 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

Gondophares
Gondophares
I and his successors[edit]

Portrait of Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
kingdom. He wears a headband, earrings, a necklace, and a cross-over jacket with round decorations.

King Abdagases I
Abdagases I
being crowned by the Greek goddess Tyche, on the reverse of some of his coins.[1]

Gondophares
Gondophares
I originally seems to have been a ruler of Seistan
Seistan
in what is today eastern Iran, probably a vassal or relative of the Apracarajas. Around 20–10 BCE,[2] he made conquests in the former Indo-Scythian
Indo-Scythian
kingdom, perhaps after the death of the important ruler Azes. Gondophares
Gondophares
became the ruler of areas comprising Arachosia, Seistan, Sindh, Punjab, and the Kabul
Kabul
valley, but it does not seem as though he held territory beyond eastern Punjab.[3] Gondophares
Gondophares
called himself "King of Kings", a Parthian title that in his case correctly reflects that the Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
empire was only a loose framework: a number of smaller dynasts certainly maintained their positions during the Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
period, likely in exchange for their recognition of Gondophares
Gondophares
and his successors. These smaller dynasts included the Apracarajas
Apracarajas
themselves, and Indo-Scythian
Indo-Scythian
satraps such as Zeionises and Rajuvula, as well as anonymous Scythians who struck imitations of Azes
Azes
coins. The Ksaharatas also held sway in Gujarat, perhaps just outside Gondophares' dominions. After the death of Gondophares
Gondophares
I, the empire started to fragment. The name or title Gondophares
Gondophares
was adapted by Sarpedones, who become Gondophares
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 Punjab
Punjab
and Arachosia
Arachosia
in southern Afghanistan. The most important successor was Abdagases, Gondophares’ nephew, who ruled in Punjab
Punjab
and possibly in the homeland of Seistan. After a short reign, Sarpedones
Sarpedones
seems to have been succeeded by Orthagnes, who became Gondophares
Gondophares
III Gadana. Orthagnes
Orthagnes
ruled mostly in Seistan
Seistan
and Arachosia, with Abdagases further east, during the first decades AD, and was briefly succeeded by his son Ubouzanes
Ubouzanes
Coin. After 20 AD, a king named Sases, a nephew of the Apracaraja ruler Aspavarma, took over Abdagases’ territories and became Gondophares
Gondophares
IV Sases. According to Senior, this is the Gondophares
Gondophares
referred to in the Takht-i-Bahi
Takht-i-Bahi
inscription.[4] 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
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 Gondophares
Gondophares
I, and from the middle of the 1st century AD the Kushans
Kushans
under Kujula Kadphises began absorbing the northern Indian part of the kingdom. The last king Pacores
Pacores
(perhaps before 100 AD)[5] only ruled in Seistan
Seistan
and Kandahar. Archaeology and sources[edit]

The Hellenistic temple with Ionic columns at Jandial, Taxila, is usually interpreted as a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
fire temple from the period of the Indo-Parthians.

The city of Taxila
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
Zoroastrian
fire temple from the period of the Indo-Parthians. Some ancient writings 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
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,[6] 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
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
Gondophares
on horse, from his coinage. He wears a short jacket and baggy trousers, rather typical of Parthian clothing.

Portrait on Gondophares
Gondophares
on one of his coins.

The Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana
is related by Philostratus in Life of Apollonius Tyana
Life of Apollonius Tyana
to have visited India, and specifically the city of Taxila
Taxila
around 46 CE. He describes constructions of the Greek type,[7] probably referring to Sirkap, and explains that the Indo-Parthian
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?"[8] [...]-"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."[9]

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
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 Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
there:

"This river (Indus) has seven mouths, very shallow and marshy, so that they are not navigable, except the one in the middle; at which by the shore, is the market-town, Barbaricum. Before it there lies a small island, and inland behind it is the metropolis of Scythia, Minnagara; it is subject to Parthian princes who are constantly driving each other out." Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Chap 38[10]

An inscription from Takht-i-Bahi
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.[11] Religion of the Indo-Parthians[edit]

Devotees at Zoroastrian
Zoroastrian
fire-altar.

To the contrary of the Indo-Greeks
Indo-Greeks
or Indo-Scythians, there are no explicit records of Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
rulers supporting Buddhism, such as religious dedications, inscriptions, or even legendary accounts. Also, although Indo-Parthian
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 Kushans
Kushans
who ruled from the Peshawar- Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
region of Pakistan. Representation of Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
devotees[edit]

Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
King

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.[12] 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.[13] Individuals in Indo-Parthian
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
Sirkap
near Taxila
Taxila
by John Marshall relate to Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
layers, although more recent scholarship sometimes relates them to the Indo-Greeks
Indo-Greeks
instead.[14] These archaeological researches provided a quantity of Hellenistic artifacts combined with elements of Buddhist worship (stupas). Some other temples, such as nearby Jandial
Jandial
may have been used as a Zoroastrian fire temple. Buddhist sculptures[edit] The statues found at Sirkap
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 Greco-Buddhist art
Greco-Buddhist art
of Gandhara
Gandhara
exactly emerged, but the findings in Sirkap
Sirkap
do indicate that this art was already highly developed before the advent of the Kushans. Stone palettes[edit] Main article: Stone palette Numerous stone palettes found in Gandhara
Gandhara
are considered as good representatives of Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
art. These palettes combine Greek and Persian influences, together with a frontality in representations which is considered as characteristic of Parthian art. Such palettes have only been found in archaeological layers corresponding to Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian
Indo-Scythian
and Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
rule, and are essentially unknown the preceding Mauryan layers or the succeeding Kushan layers.[15] 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 Museum in Prague
Prague
shows an Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
king seated crossed-legged on a large sofa, surrounded by two attendants also in Parthian dress. They are shown drinking and serving wine.

Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
man hunting.

Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
revelers.

Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
couple.

Silk Road transmission of Buddhism[edit] Main article: Silk Road transmission of Buddhism

Gandhara
Gandhara
Buddhist reliquary with content, including Indo-Parthian coins. 1st century CE.

Some pockets 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 appeared in the Chinese capital cities of Loyang
Loyang
and sometimes Nanjing, where they particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. The first known translators of Buddhist texts into Chinese are actually Parthian missionaries, distinguished in Chinese by their Parthian surname "An", for "Anshi", "country of the Arsacids".

An Shih Kao, was a Parthian prince, who made the first known translations of Hinayana
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
Indo-Parthian
rulers[edit]

Coins of the Indo-Parthian
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
Indo-Parthian
king Abdagases, in which his clothing is clearly apparent. He wears baggy trousers and a crossover jacket.

Gondophares
Gondophares
I (c. 20 BC – first years AD) Coin Gondophares
Gondophares
II Sarpedones
Sarpedones
(first years AD – c. 20 AD)Coin Abdagases I
Abdagases I
(first years AD – mid-1st century AD) Coin Gondophares
Gondophares
III Gudana, previously Orthagnes
Orthagnes
(c. 20 AD – 30 AD) Gondophares
Gondophares
IV Sases, (mid-1st century AD) Ubouzanes, (late-1st century AD) Pacores
Pacores
(late 1st century AD) Coin

See also[edit]

Indo-Greek Kingdom Indo-Sasanians Indo-Scythians Kushan
Kushan
Empire Yuezhi Pahlavas Kambojas

Notes[edit]

^ 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 on " Indo-Scythian
Indo-Scythian
Coins and History IV" by Robert Senior, CNG 2006, as the four volumes of Senior's work provide an almost complete catalogue of the coinage of the period. Senior's chronology is based on the existence of only one king Azes, a theory that was vindicated when it was shown that a coin of the so-called Azes
Azes
II was overstruck with a type attributed to Azes
Azes
I (see Senior, "The final nail in the coffin of Azes
Azes
II", Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society 197, 2008). ^ Rosenfield, p129 ^ A votive inscription of the 26th year of Gudavhara or Gondophares, is reported to have been found on a stone at Takht-i-Bahi, northeast of Peshawar
Peshawar
with a date in the year 103 of an unspecified era reckoning. This era is likely to have been the Malva or Vikrama era, founded in 57 BCE, this would give a date of 20 CE for this king's ascension (see Hindu calendar). The stone was formerly in the museum at Lahore. The point is especially important for those Christians who consider that a germ of history is embedded in the Acts of Thomas. ^ Pacores
Pacores
is not dated by Senior in Indo-Scythian
Indo-Scythian
Coins and History, but as Senior’s chronology is generally antedates the Indo-Parthian kings by a few decades, it follows that Pacores
Pacores
is probably also earlier than the date 100-130 AD, that was previously suggested. ^ see Senior, "The final nail in the coffin of Azes
Azes
II". ^ 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
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
Maurya
city preceding Sirkap
Sirkap
on the Taxila
Taxila
site, nor Sirsukh, the Kushan
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
Kushan
period. In effect, neither Mathura nor Taxila
Taxila
(although the Sirsukh had only been little excavated), nor Begram, nor Surkh Kotal, neither the great Kushan
Kushan
archaeological sites of Soviet Central Asia
Central Asia
or Afghanistan
Afghanistan
have yielded such objects. Only four palettes have been found in Kushan-period archaeological sites. They come from secondary sites, such as Garav Kala and Ajvadz in Soviet Tajikistan and Jhukar, in the Indus
Indus
Valley, and Dalverzin Tepe. They are rather roughly made." In "Les Palettes du Gandhara", Henri-Paul Francfort, p91. (in French in the original)

References[edit]

"Les Palettes du Gandhara", Henri-Paul Francfort, Diffusion de Boccard, Paris, 1979 "Reports on the campaigns 1956–1958 in Swat (Pakistan)", Domenico Faccenna "Sculptures from the sacred site of Butkara I", Domenico Faccena

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Indo-Parthian.

Coins of the Indo-Parthians History of Greco-India

v t e

Middle kingdoms of India

Timeline and cultural period

Northwestern India (Punjab-Sapta Sindhu)

Indo-Gangetic Plain Central India Southern India

Upper Gangetic Plain (Kuru-Panchala)

Middle Gangetic Plain Lower Gangetic Plain

IRON AGE

Culture Late Vedic Period Late Vedic Period (Brahmin ideology)[a] Painted Grey Ware culture

Late Vedic Period (Kshatriya/Shramanic culture)[b] Northern Black Polished Ware

Pre-history

 6th century BC Gandhara Kuru-Panchala Magadha

Adivasi
Adivasi
(tribes)

Culture Persian-Greek influences "Second Urbanisation" Rise of Shramana
Shramana
movements Jainism
Jainism
- Buddhism
Buddhism
- Ājīvika
Ājīvika
- Yoga

Pre-history

 5th century BC (Persian rule)

Shishunaga dynasty

Adivasi
Adivasi
(tribes)

 4th century BC (Greek conquests) Nanda empire

HISTORICAL AGE

Culture Spread of Buddhism Pre-history Sangam period (300 BC – 200 AD)

 3rd century BC Maurya
Maurya
Empire Early Cholas Early Pandyan Kingdom Satavahana dynasty Cheras 46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam

Culture Preclassical Hinduism[c] - "Hindu Synthesis"[d] (ca. 200 BC - 300 AD)[e][f] Epics - Puranas
Puranas
- Ramayana
Ramayana
- Mahabharata
Mahabharata
- Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
- Brahma Sutras - Smarta Tradition Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism Sangam period (continued) (300 BC – 200 AD)

 2nd century BC Indo-Greek Kingdom Shunga Empire Maha-Meghavahana Dynasty

Early Cholas Early Pandyan Kingdom Satavahana dynasty Cheras 46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam

 1st century BC

 1st century AD

Indo-Scythians Indo-Parthians

Kuninda Kingdom

 2nd century Kushan
Kushan
Empire

 3rd century Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom Kushan
Kushan
Empire Western Satraps Kamarupa
Kamarupa
kingdom Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Culture "Golden Age of Hinduism"(ca. AD 320-650)[g] Puranas Co-existence of Hinduism
Hinduism
and Buddhism

 4th century Kidarites Gupta Empire Varman dynasty

Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras) Kadamba Dynasty Western Ganga Dynasty

 5th century Hephthalite Empire Alchon Huns Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras) Vishnukundina

 6th century Nezak Huns Kabul
Kabul
Shahi

Maitraka

Adivasi
Adivasi
(tribes) Badami Chalukyas Kalabhra dynasty Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Culture Late-Classical Hinduism
Hinduism
(ca. AD 650-1100)[h] Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta
- Tantra Decline of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India

 7th century Indo-Sassanids

Vakataka dynasty Empire of Harsha Mlechchha dynasty Adivasi
Adivasi
(tribes) Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras) Pandyan Kingdom(Revival) Pallava

 8th century Kabul
Kabul
Shahi

Pala Empire Pandyan Kingdom Kalachuri

 9th century

Gurjara-Pratihara

Rashtrakuta dynasty Pandyan Kingdom Medieval Cholas Pandyan Kingdom(Under Cholas) Chera Perumals of Makkotai

10th century Ghaznavids

Pala dynasty Kamboja-Pala dynasty

Kalyani Chalukyas Medieval Cholas Pandyan Kingdom(Under Cholas) Chera Perumals of Makkotai Rashtrakuta

References and sources for table

References

^ Samuel ^ Samuel ^ Michaels (2004) p.39 ^ Hiltebeitel (2002) ^ Michaels (2004) p.39 ^ Hiltebeitel (2002) ^ Micheals (2004) p.40 ^ Michaels (2004) p.41

Sources

Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press  Hiltebeitel, Alf (2002), Hinduism. In: Joseph Kitagawa, "The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture", Routledge  Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press  Samuel, Geoffrey (2010), The Origins of Yoga
Yoga
and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press 

v t e

Ancient South Asia and Central Asia

Archaeology and prehistory

Proto-Indo-Iranians Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
(BMAC) Indo-Aryan migration theory Swat culture Genetics and archaeogenetics History of the horse

Historical peoples and clans

Saka Indo-Scythians Yuezhi Kambojas Sakaldwipiya Parsi Kidarites Alchon Huns Hephthalites Nezak Huns

States

Greco-Bactrian Kingdom Indo-Greek Kingdom Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
Kingdom Kushan
Kushan
Empire Kamboja Kingdom

Mythology and literature

Shakdvipa Āryāvarta Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
in Indian literature Uttaramadra Uttarakuru

v t e

Parthian Empire

Origins

Parni Dahae Parni
Parni
conquest of Parthia

Dynasty

List of Parthian kings List of rulers of Parthian sub-kingdoms Arsacid dynasty of Armenia Arsacid dynasty of Iberia Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania Chosroid dynasty Indo-Parthian
Indo-Parthian
Kingdom

Noble clans

Seven Parthian clans House of Ispahbudhan House of Karen House of Mihran House of Spandiyadh House of Suren House of Varaz House of Zik

Culture

Parthian language Parthian art

Wars

Seleucid–Parthian wars Roman–Parthian Wars Armenian–Parthian War

Other related topics

Parthia Parthian shot Roman–Irani

.