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The KUSHAN EMPIRE ( Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
: Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; Bactrian : Κυϸανο, Kushano; Sanskrit
Sanskrit
: कुषाण राजवंश Kuṣāṇ Rājavaṃśa; BHS : Guṣāṇa-vaṃśa; Chinese : 贵霜帝国; Parthian : Kušan-xšaθr ) was a syncretic empire, formed by Yuezhi , in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century. It spread to encompass much of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, and then the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent at least as far as Saketa and Sarnath
Sarnath
near Varanasi (Benares), where inscriptions have been found dating to the era of the Kushan emperor Kanishka the Great . Emperor Kanishka
Kanishka
was a great patron of Buddhism
Buddhism
; however, as Kushans expanded southward toward the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
the deities of their later coinage came to reflect its new Hindu
Hindu
majority.

The Kushans were one of five branches of the Yuezhi confederation, a possibly Iranic or Tocharian , Indo-European nomadic people who migrated from Gansu
Gansu
and settled in ancient Bactria . The Kushans possibly used the Greek language
Greek language
initially for administrative purposes, but soon began to use Bactrian language
Bactrian language
. Kanishka
Kanishka
sent his armies north of the Karakoram
Karakoram
mountains , capturing territories as far as Kashgar
Kashgar
, Khotan
Khotan
and Yarkant , in the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
of modern-day Xinjiang
Xinjiang
, China
China
. A direct road from Gandhara to China
China
remained under Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the Karakoram
Karakoram
and facilitating the spread of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
to China.

The Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
, Sasanian
Sasanian
Persia , Aksumite Empire
Aksumite Empire
and Han China
China
. While much philosophy, art, and science was created within its borders, the only textual record of the empire's history today comes from inscriptions and accounts in other languages, particularly Chinese.

The Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the 3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west, establishing the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of Sogdiana
Sogdiana
, Bactria and Gandhara . In the 4th century, the Guptas , an Indian dynasty also pressed from the east. The last of the Kushan and Kushano- Sasanian
Sasanian
kingdoms were eventually overwhelmed by invaders from the north, known as the Kidarites , and then the Hepthalites . Historian H. G. Rawlinson states that the "Kushana Period is a fitting prelude to the age of Guptas".

CONTENTS

* 1 Origins * 2 Early Kushans * 3 Diverse cultural influences * 4 Territorial expansion

* 5 Main Kushan rulers

* 5.1 Kujula Kadphises (c. 30 – c. 80) * 5.2 Vima Taktu or Sadashkana (c. 80 – c. 95) * 5.3 Vima Kadphises (c. 95 – c. 127) * 5.4 Kanishka I (c. 127 – c. 140) * 5.5 Vāsishka (c. 140 – c. 160) * 5.6 Huvishka (c. 160 – c. 190) * 5.7 Vasudeva I (c. 190 – c. 230)

* 6 Kushan deities

* 7 Kushans and Buddhism
Buddhism

* 7.1 Kushan art

* 8 Contacts with Rome
Rome
* 9 Contacts with China
China
* 10 Decline * 11 Rulers * 12 See also * 13 Notes * 14 References * 15 Further reading * 16 External links

ORIGINS

Chinese sources describe the Guishuang (貴霜), i.e. the Kushans, as one of the five aristocratic tribes of the Yuezhi , with some people claiming they were a loose confederation of Indo-European peoples, though many scholars are still unconvinced that they originally spoke an Indo-European language. As the historian John E. Hill has put it: "For well over a century ... there have been many arguments about the ethnic and linguistic origins of the Da Yuezhi (大月氏), Kushans (貴霜), and the Tochari, and still there is little consensus".

The Yuezhi were described in the Records of the Great Historian and the Book of Han
Book of Han
as living in the grasslands of Gansu
Gansu
, in the northwest of modern-day China, until they were driven west by the Xiongnu
Xiongnu
in 176–160 BCE. The five tribes constituting the Yuezhi are known in Chinese history as Xiūmì (休密), Guìshuāng (貴霜), Shuāngmǐ (雙靡), Xìdùn (肸頓), and Dūmì (都密).

The Yuezhi reached the Hellenic kingdom of Greco- Bactria (in northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Uzbekistan) around 135 BC. The displaced Greek dynasties resettled to the southeast in areas of the Hindu
Hindu
Kush and the Indus basin (in present-day Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and Pakistan), occupying the western part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom .

EARLY KUSHANS

Head of a Kushan prince ( Khalchayan palace, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
).

Some traces remain of the presence of the Kushans in the area of Bactria and Sogdiana
Sogdiana
. Archaeological structures are known in Takht-I-Sangin, Surkh Kotal (a monumental temple), and in the palace of Khalchayan . Various sculptures and friezes are known, representing horse-riding archers, and significantly men with artificially deformed skulls , such as the Kushan prince of Khalchayan (a practice well attested in nomadic Central Asia). The Chinese first referred to these people as the Yuezhi and said they established the Kushan Empire, although the relationship between the Yuezhi and the Kushans is still unclear. On the ruins of ancient Hellenistic cities such as Ai-Khanoum , the Kushans are known to have built fortresses. The first known Kushan king Heraios (1-30 CE).

The earliest documented ruler, and the first one to proclaim himself as a Kushan ruler, was Heraios . He calls himself a "tyrant " in Greek on his coins, and also exhibits skull deformation. He may have been an ally of the Greeks, and he shared the same style of coinage. Heraios may have been the father of the first Kushan emperor Kujula Kadphises.

Ban Gu 's Book of Han
Book of Han
tells us the Kushans (Kuei-shuang) divided up Bactria in 128 BC. Fan Ye 's Book of the Later Han "relates how the chief of the Kushans, Ch'iu-shiu-ch'ueh (the Kujula Kadphises of coins), founded by means of the submission of the other Yueh-chih clans the Kushan Empire, known to the Greeks and Romans under the name of Empire
Empire
of the Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
."

The Chinese Hou Hanshu chronicles gives an account of the formation of the Kushan empire based on a report made by the Chinese general Ban Yong to the Chinese Emperor c. 125 AD:

More than a hundred years later , the prince of Guishuang ( Badakhshan
Badakhshan
) established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang (Kushan) King. He invaded Anxi (Indo-Parthia), and took the Gaofu ( Kabul
Kabul
) region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda (Paktiya) and Jibin (Kapisha and Gandhara ). Qiujiuque (Kujula Kadphises) was more than eighty years old when he died. His son, Yangaozhen , became king in his place. He defeated Tianzhu and installed Generals to supervise and lead it. The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call the Guishuang king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi. —  Hou Hanshu

DIVERSE CULTURAL INFLUENCES

Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
(narrow columns) with Kushan script (wide columns). A Buddhist devotee in Kushan dress, Mathura, 2nd century. The Kushan dress is generally depicted as quite stiff, and it is thought it was often made of leather (Francine Tissot, "Gandhara").

In the 1st century BCE, the Guishuang (Ch: 貴霜) gained prominence over the other Yuezhi tribes, and welded them into a tight confederation under yabgu (Commander) Kujula Kadphises. The name Guishuang was adopted in the West and modified into Kushan to designate the confederation, although the Chinese continued to call them Yuezhi.

Gradually wresting control of the area from the Scythian tribes, the Kushans expanded south into the region traditionally known as Gandhara (an area primarily in Pakistan
Pakistan
's Pothowar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region but going in an arc to include the Kabul
Kabul
valley and part of Qandahar
Qandahar
in Afghanistan) and established twin capitals in Begram and Peshawar
Peshawar
, then known as Kapisa and Pushklavati respectively. The Kushan writing system used the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
, with the addition of the letter Sho (associated with the Greek Sampi
Sampi
).

The Kushans adopted elements of the Hellenistic culture of Bactria. They adopted the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
to suit their own language (with the additional development of the letter Þ "sh", as in "Kushan") and soon began minting coinage on the Greek model. On their coins they used Greek language
Greek language
legends combined with Pali legends (in the Kharoshthi script), until the first few years of the reign of Kanishka. After that date, they used Kushan language legends (in an adapted Greek script), combined with legends in Greek (Greek script) and legends in Prakrit
Prakrit
( Kharoshthi script).

The Kushans "adopted many local beliefs and customs, including Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
and the two rising religions in the region, the Greek cults and Buddhism
Buddhism
". From the time of Vima Takto
Vima Takto
, many Kushans started adopting aspects of Buddhist culture, and like the Egyptians, they absorbed the strong remnants of the Greek culture of the Hellenistic Kingdoms, becoming at least partly Hellenised . The great Kushan emperor Vima Kadphises may have embraced Saivism (a sect of Hinduism
Hinduism
), as surmised by coins minted during the period. The following Kushan emperors represented a wide variety of faiths including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and possibly Saivism.

The rule of the Kushans linked the seagoing trade of the Indian Ocean with the commerce of the Silk Road
Silk Road
through the long-civilized Indus Valley . At the height of the dynasty, the Kushans loosely ruled a territory that extended to the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
through present-day Uzbekistan , Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, and Pakistan
Pakistan
into northern India.

The loose unity and comparative peace of such a vast expanse encouraged long-distance trade, brought Chinese silks to Rome
Rome
, and created strings of flourishing urban centers.

TERRITORIAL EXPANSION

Kushan king or prince, Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara , 2nd-3rd century CE.

Rosenfield notes that archaeological evidence of a Kushan rule of long duration is present in an area stretching from Surkh Kotal, Begram , the summer capital of the Kushans, Peshawar, the capital under Kanishka
Kanishka
I, Taxila
Taxila
, and Mathura
Mathura
, the winter capital of the Kushans.

Other areas of probable rule include Khwarezm
Khwarezm
Kausambi (excavations of Allahabad University), Sanchi
Sanchi
and Sarnath
Sarnath
(inscriptions with names and dates of Kushan kings), Malwa
Malwa
and Maharashtra
Maharashtra
, Odisha (imitation of Kushan coins, and large Kushan hoards). Remains of a Kushan fortress in Sirsukh , Pakistan
Pakistan
.

Kushan invasions in the 1st century CE had been given as an explanation for the migration of Indians from the Indian Subcontinent toward Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
according to proponents of a Greater India theory by 20th-century Indian nationalists . However, there is no evidence to support this hypothesis.

The recently discovered Rabatak inscription confirms the account of the Hou Hanshu, Weilüe , and inscriptions dated early in the Kanishka era (incept probably 127 CE), that large Kushan dominions expanded into the heartland of northern India
India
in the early 2nd century CE. The lines 4 to 7 of the inscription describe the cities which were under the rule of Kanishka, among which six names are identifiable: Ujjain
Ujjain
, Kundina , Saketa, Kausambi, Pataliputra , and Champa (although the text is not clear whether Champa was a possession of Kanishka
Kanishka
or just beyond it). The Kushan state was bounded to the south by the Pārata state of Balochistan , western Pakistan
Pakistan
, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
, Tajikistan
Tajikistan
, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
. Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
was known for the kushan Buddhist city of Merv
Merv
. As late as the 3rd century AD, decorated coins of Huvishka were dedicated at Bodh Gaya together with other gold offerings under the "Enlightenment Throne" of the Buddha, suggesting direct Kushan influence in the area during that period.

Northward, in the 2nd century AD, the Kushans under Kanishka
Kanishka
made various forays into the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
, where they had various contacts with the Chinese. Both archaeological findings and literary evidence suggest Kushan rule, in Kashgar
Kashgar
, Yarkand and Khotan
Khotan
.

MAIN KUSHAN RULERS

Offerings found in Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
under the "Enlightenment Throne of the Buddha", with an impression of an imitation of a coin of the Kushan emperor Huvishka , 2nd century CE. British Museum
British Museum
.

KUJULA KADPHISES (C. 30 – C. 80)

...the prince of Guishuang, named thilac , attacked and exterminated the four other xihou. He established himself as king, and his dynasty was called that of the Guishuang King. He invaded Anxi , and took the Gaofu region. He also defeated the whole of the kingdoms of Puda and Jibin . Qiujiuque was more than eighty years old when he died."Hou Hanshu

These conquests probably took place sometime between 45 and 60, and laid the basis for the Kushan Empire
Empire
which was rapidly expanded by his descendants.

Kujula issued an extensive series of coins and fathered at least two sons, Sadaṣkaṇa (who is known from only two inscriptions, especially the Rabatak inscription, and apparently never ruled), and seemingly Vima Takto.

Kujula Kadphises was the great grandfather of Kanishka.

VIMA TAKTU OR SADASHKANA (C. 80 – C. 95)

Vima Takto
Vima Takto
(Ancient Chinese: 閻膏珍 Yangaozhen) is mentioned in the Rabatak inscription (another son, Sadashkana, is mentioned in an inscription of Senavarman, the King of Odi). He was the predecessor of Vima Kadphises, and Kanishka
Kanishka
I. He expanded the Kushan Empire
Empire
into the northwest of the South Asia. The Hou Hanshu says:

"His son, Yangaozhen , became king in his place. He defeated Tianzhu and installed Generals to supervise and lead it. The Yuezhi then became extremely rich. All the kingdoms call the Guishuang king, but the Han call them by their original name, Da Yuezhi." — Hou Hanshu

VIMA KADPHISES (C. 95 – C. 127)

Vima Kadphises ( Kushan language: Οοημο Καδφισης) was a Kushan emperor from around 90–100 CE, the son of Sadashkana and the grandson of Kujula Kadphises, and the father of Kanishka
Kanishka
I, as detailed by the Rabatak inscription.

Vima Kadphises added to the Kushan territory by his conquests in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and north-west Pakistan. He issued an extensive series of coins and inscriptions. He issued gold coins in addition to the existing copper and silver coinage.

KANISHKA I (C. 127 – C. 140)

Kanishka, Mathura art , Mathura Museum .

The rule of Kanishka the Great , fifth Kushan king, who flourished for about 13 years from c. 127. Upon his accession, Kanishka
Kanishka
ruled a huge territory (virtually all of northern India), south to Ujjain
Ujjain
and Kundina and east beyond Pataliputra, according to the Rabatak inscription: The Qila Mubarak
Qila Mubarak
fort at Bathinda , India
India
was built by Kanishka
Kanishka
the Great.

In the year one, it has been proclaimed unto India, unto the whole realm of the governing class, including Koonadeano (Kaundiny, Kundina) and the city of Ozeno (Ozene, Ujjain) and the city of Zageda (Saketa) and the city of Kozambo (Kausambi) and the city of Palabotro (Pataliputra) and so long unto (i.e. as far as) the city of Ziri-tambo (Sri-Champa). — Rabatak inscription, Lines 4–6

His territory was administered from two capitals: Purushapura (now Peshawar
Peshawar
in northwestern Pakistan) and Mathura, in northern India. He is also credited (along with Raja Dab ) for building the massive, ancient Fort at Bathinda ( Qila Mubarak
Qila Mubarak
), in the modern city of Bathinda , Indian Punjab
Punjab
.

The Kushans also had a summer capital in Bagram (then known as Kapisa), where the " Begram Treasure", comprising works of art from Greece to China, has been found. According to the Rabatak inscription, Kanishka
Kanishka
was the son of Vima Kadphises, the grandson of Sadashkana, and the great-grandson of Kujula Kadphises. Kanishka’s era is now generally accepted to have begun in 127 on the basis of Harry Falk’s ground-breaking research. Kanishka’s era was used as a calendar reference by the Kushans for about a century, until the decline of the Kushan realm.

VāSISHKA (C. 140 – C. 160)

Vāsishka was a Kushan emperor who seems to have a 20-year reign following Kanishka. His rule is recorded as far south as Sanchi
Sanchi
(near Vidisa ), where several inscriptions in his name have been found, dated to the year 22 (The Sanchi
Sanchi
inscription of "Vaksushana" – i. e. Vasishka Kushana) and year 28 (The Sanchi
Sanchi
inscription of Vasaska – i. e. Vasishka) of the Kanishka
Kanishka
era.

HUVISHKA (C. 160 – C. 190)

Huvishka (Kushan: Οοηϸκι, "Ooishki") was a Kushan emperor from about 20 years after the death of Kanishka
Kanishka
(assumed on the best evidence available to be in 140) until the succession of Vasudeva I about thirty years later. His rule was a period of retrenchment and consolidation for the Empire. In particular he devoted time and effort early in his reign to the exertion of greater control over the city of Mathura.

VASUDEVA I (C. 190 – C. 230)

Vasudeva I (Kushan: Βαζοδηο "Bazodeo", Chinese: 波調 "Bodiao") was the last of the "Great Kushans." Named inscriptions dating from year 64 to 98 of Kanishka’s era suggest his reign extended from at least 191 to 225 AD. He was the last great Kushan emperor, and the end of his rule coincides with the invasion of the Sasanians as far as northwestern India, and the establishment of the Indo-Sasanians
Indo-Sasanians
or Kushanshahs in what is nowadays Afghanistan, Pakistan
Pakistan
and northwestern India
India
from around 240 AD.

KUSHAN DEITIES

Kumara/ Kartikeya with a Kushan devotee, 2nd century CE. Kushan prince making a donation to a Boddhisattva .

The Kushan religious pantheon is extremely varied, as revealed by their coins that were made in gold, silver, and copper. These coins contained more than thirty different gods, belonging mainly to their own Iranic, Greek, and Indo-Aryan worlds as well. Kushan coins had images of Kushan Kings, Buddha, and figures from the Indo-Aryan and Iranian pantheons. Greek deities, with Greek names are represented on early coins. During Kanishka's reign, the language of the coinage changes to Bactrian (though it remained in Greek script for all kings). After Huvishka, only two divinities appear on the coins: Ardoxsho and Oesho (see details below).

The Iranic entities depicted on coinage include:

* Αρδοχþο (ardoxsho, Ashi Vanghuhi ) * Aþαειχþo (ashaeixsho, Asha Vahishta ) * Αθþο (athsho, Atar
Atar
) * Φαρρο (pharro, Khwarenah ) * Λροοασπο (lrooaspa, Drvaspa ) * Μαναοβαγο, (manaobago, Vohu Manah ) * Μαο (mao, Mah
Mah
) * Μιθρο, Μιιρο, Μιορο, Μιυρο (mithro and variants, Mithra ) * Μοζδοοανο (mozdooano, Mazda *vana "Mazda the victorious?") * Νανα, Ναναια, Ναναϸαο (variations of pan-Asiatic nana, Sogdian nny, Nana ) * Οαδο (oado Vata ) * Oαxþo (oaxsho, "Oxus") * Ooρoμoζδο (ooromozdo, Ahura Mazda ) * Οραλαγνο (orlagno, Verethragna ) * Τιερο (tiero, Tir )

Representation of entities from Greek mythology and Hellenistic syncretism are:

* Ηλιος ( Helios
Helios
), Ηφαηστος ( Hephaistos
Hephaistos
), Σαληνη ( Selene ), Ανημος ( Anemos ). Further, the coins of Huvishka also portray the demi-god erakilo Heracles
Heracles
, and the Egyptian god sarapo Sarapis

The Indic entities represented on coinage include:

* Βοδδο (boddo, Buddha ) * Μετραγο Βοδδο (metrago boddo, bodhisattava Maitreya ) * Mαασηνo (maaseno, Mahasena) * Σκανδo koμαρo (skando komaro, Skanda Kumara) * þακαμανο Βοδδο (shakamano boddho, Shakyamuni Buddha ) * Οηϸο (oesho), long considered to represent Indic Shiva
Shiva
, but also identified as Avestan
Avestan
Vayu conflated with Shiva. * Two copper coins of Huvishka bear a 'Ganesa' legend, but instead of depicting the typical theriomorphic figure of Ganesha
Ganesha
, have a figure of an archer holding a full-length bow with string inwards and an arrow. This is typically a depiction of Rudra
Rudra
, but in the case of these two coins is generally assumed to represent Shiva.

IMAGES OF KUSHAN WORSHIPPERS

Kushan worshipper with Zeus/Serapis/Ohrmazd, Bactria, 3rd century CE.

Kushan worshipper with Pharro , Bactria, 3rd century AD.

Kushan worshipper with Shiva/Oesho, Bactria, 3rd century CE.

DEITIES ON KUSHAN COINAGE

Mahasena on a coin of Huvishka

Four-faced Oesho

Rishti

Manaobago

Pharro

Ardochsho

Oesho or Shiva
Shiva

Oesho or Shiva
Shiva
with bull

Skanda and Visakha

Gold coin of Kanishka
Kanishka
the Great, with a depiction of the Buddha, with the legend "Boddo" in Greek script; Ahin Posh

Kushan Carnelian
Carnelian
seal representing the "ΑΔϷΟ" (adsho Atar), with triratana symbol left, and Kanishka
Kanishka
the Great's dynastic mark right

Buddha

Kushan coins showing half-length bust of Vima Kadphises in various poses, holding mace-scepter or laurel branch in right hand; flames at shoulder, tamgha to right or left. On the other side of coin is a deity with a bull. Some consider the deity as Shiva
Shiva
because he is in ithyphallic state, holds a trident , and the Nandi bull is his mount, as in Hindu
Hindu
mythology. Others suggest him as Oesho , Zoroastrian Vayu .

KUSHANS AND BUDDHISM

Kanishka the Great inaugurates Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
. Illustration from 1910 Early Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhist triad. From left to right, a Kushan devotee, Maitreya , the Buddha , Avalokitesvara , and a Buddhist monk. 2nd–3rd century, Gandhara

The Kushans inherited the Greco-Buddhist
Greco-Buddhist
traditions of the Indo-Greek Kingdom they replaced, and their patronage of Buddhist institutions allowed them to grow as a commercial power. Between the mid-1st century and the mid-3rd century, Buddhism, patronized by the Kushans, extended to China
China
and other Asian countries through the Silk Road
Silk Road
.

Kanishka
Kanishka
is renowned in Buddhist tradition for having convened a great Buddhist council in Kashmir
Kashmir
. Along with his predecessor in the region the Indo-Greek king Menander I
Menander I
(Milinda) and the Indian emperors Ashoka
Ashoka
and Harsha Vardhana , Kanishka
Kanishka
is considered by Buddhism
Buddhism
as one of its greatest benefactors.

During the 1st century AD, Buddhist books were being produced and carried by monks, and their trader patrons. Also, monasteries were being established along these land routes that went from China
China
and other parts of Asia. With the development of Buddhist books, it caused a new written language called Gandhara. Gandhara consists of eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
and northern Pakistan. Scholars are said to have found many Buddhist scrolls that contained the Gandhari language.

The reign of Huvishka corresponds to the first known epigraphic evidence of the Buddha Amitabha
Amitabha
, on the bottom part of a 2nd-century statue which has been found in Govindo-Nagar, and now at the Mathura Museum. The statue is dated to "the 28th year of the reign of Huvishka", and dedicated to " Amitabha
Amitabha
Buddha" by a family of merchants. There is also some evidence that Huvishka himself was a follower of Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
. A Sanskrit
Sanskrit
manuscript fragment in the Schøyen Collection describes Huvishka as one who has "set forth in the Mahāyāna."

KUSHAN ART

Standing Female, 1st century CE Terracotta. This lively female figure comes from an area of Pakistan
Pakistan
where merchants from around the Mediterranean had long maintained trading posts. The area, known in antiquity as Gandhara, developed an unusual hybrid style of art and culture that was at once Hellenic and Indic. Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum

The art and culture of Gandhara, at the crossroads of the Kushan hegemony, continued the traditions of Greco-Buddhist art and are the best known expressions of Kushan influences to Westerners. Several direct depictions of Kushans are known from Gandhara, where they are represented with a tunic, belt and trousers and play the role of devotees to the Buddha, as well as the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
and future Buddha Maitreya.

During the Kushan Empire, many images of Gandhara share a strong resemblance to the features of Greek, Syrian, Persian and Indian figures. These Western-looking stylistic signatures often include heavy drapery and curly hair, representing a composite (the Greeks, for example, often possessed curly hair).

In the iconography, they are never associated however with the very Hellenistic "Standing Buddha" statues, which might therefore correspond to an earlier historical period.

CONTACTS WITH ROME

Main article: Roman trade with India
India
Greco-Roman gladiator on a glass vessel, Begram, 2nd century

Several Roman sources describe the visit of ambassadors from the Kings of Bactria and India
India
during the 2nd century, probably referring to the Kushans. Coin of the Roman Emperor Trajan
Trajan
, found together with coins of Kanishka the Great at the Ahin Posh Monastery

Historia Augusta
Historia Augusta
, speaking of Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
(117–138) tells:

Reges Bactrianorum legatos ad eum, amicitiae petendae causa, supplices miserunt

"The kings of the Bactrians sent supplicant ambassadors to him, to seek his friendship."

Also in 138, according to Aurelius Victor (Epitome‚ XV, 4), and Appian
Appian
(Praef., 7), Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius
, successor to Hadrian, received some Indian, Bactrian Hyrcanian ambassadors.

"Precious things from Da Qin can be found there , as well as fine cotton cloths, fine wool carpets, perfumes of all sorts, sugar candy , pepper , ginger , and black salt." —  Hou Hanshu

The summer capital of the Kushan in Begram has yielded a considerable amount of goods imported from the Roman Empire, in particular, various types of glassware.

CONTACTS WITH CHINA

Map showing the Eurasia in 2nd Century AD, Kushan shared a border with the Chinese empire of Han. A bronze coin of Kanishka the Great found in Khotan
Khotan
, Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin

During the 1st and 2nd century, the Kushan Empire
Empire
expanded militarily to the north and occupied parts of the Tarim Basin, their original grounds, putting them at the center of the profitable Central Asian commerce with the Roman Empire. They are related to have collaborated militarily with the Chinese against nomadic incursion, particularly when they collaborated with the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
general Ban Chao against the Sogdians in 84, when the latter were trying to support a revolt by the king of Kashgar. Around 85, they also assisted the Chinese general in an attack on Turpan
Turpan
, east of the Tarim Basin. The Kushan Buddhist monk Lokaksema , first known translator of Buddhist Mahayana
Mahayana
scriptures into Chinese, c. 170.

In recognition for their support to the Chinese, the Kushans requested a Han princess, but were denied, even after they had sent presents to the Chinese court. In retaliation, they marched on Ban Chao in 86 with a force of 70,000, but were defeated by a smaller Chinese force. The Yuezhi retreated and paid tribute to the Chinese Empire
Empire
during the reign of emperor He of Han (89–106).

Later, around 116, the Kushans under Kanishka
Kanishka
established a kingdom centered on Kashgar, also taking control of Khotan
Khotan
and Yarkand, which were Chinese dependencies in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang. They introduced the Brahmi script, the Indian Prakrit
Prakrit
language for administration, and expanded the influence of Greco-Buddhist art which developed into Serindian art . Eastern Han inscriptions on lead ingot, using barbarous Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
in the style of the Kushans , excavated in Shaanxi
Shaanxi
, 1st-2nd century CE.

The Kushans are again recorded to have sent presents to the Chinese court in 158–159 during the reign of emperor Huan of Han .

Following these interactions, cultural exchanges further increased, and Kushan Buddhist missionaries, such as Lokaksema , became active in the Chinese capital cities of Loyang and sometimes Nanjing
Nanjing
, where they particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They were the first recorded promoters of Hinayana and Mahayana scriptures in China, greatly contributing to the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
Buddhism
.

DECLINE

Hormizd I Kushanshah (277-286 CE), king of the Indo-Sasanians
Indo-Sasanians
, maintained Sasanian
Sasanian
rule in former Kushan territories of the northwest. Naqsh-e Rustam Bahram II panel.

After the death of Vasudeva I in 225, the Kushan empire split into western and eastern halves. The Western Kushans (in Afghanistan) were soon subjugated by the Persian Sasanian Empire
Sasanian Empire
and lost Sogdiana
Sogdiana
, Bactria and Gandhara to them. The Sasanians deposed the Western dynasty and replaced them with Persian vassals known as the Kushanshas (also called Indo-Sasanians
Indo-Sasanians
or Kushano-Sasanians ).

The Eastern Kushan kingdom was based in the Punjab. Around 270 their territories on the Gangetic plain became independent under local dynasties such as the Yaudheyas . Then in the mid-4th century they were subjugated by the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
under Samudragupta
Samudragupta
.

In 360 a Kidarite Hun named Kidara overthrew the Indo-Sasanians
Indo-Sasanians
and remnants of the old Kushan dynasty, and established the Kidarite Kingdom . The Kushan style of Kidarite coins indicates they claimed Kushan heritage. The Kidarite seem to have been rather prosperous, although on a smaller scale than their Kushan predecessors.

These remnants of the Kushan empire were ultimately wiped out in the 5th century by the invasions of the Hephthalites
Hephthalites
, the Alchon Huns and the Nezak Huns in the northwest, and the rise of the Gupta empire
Gupta empire
in the east.

RULERS

Listing of Kushan royal tamgas .

* Heraios (c. 1 – 30), first Kushan ruler, generally Kushan ruling period is disputed * Kujula Kadphises (c. 30 – c. 80) * Vima Takto
Vima Takto
, (c. 80 – c. 95) alias Soter Megas or "Great Saviour." * Vima Kadphises (c. 95 – c. 127) the first great Kushan emperor * Kanishka the Great (127 – c. 140) * Vāsishka (c. 140 – c. 160) * Huvishka (c. 160 – c. 190) * Vasudeva I (c. 190 – to at least 230), the last of the great Kushan emperors * Kanishka II (c. 230 – 240) * Vashishka (c. 240 – 250) * Kanishka III (c. 250 – 275)

* Vasudeva II (c. 275 – 310)

* Vasudeva III reported son of Vasudeva III, a King, uncertain. * Vasudeva IV reported possible child of Vasudeva III, ruling in Kandahar, uncertain. * Vasudeva V , or "Vasudeva of Kabul" reported possible child of Vasudeva IV, ruling in Kabul, uncertain.

* Chhu (c. 310? – 325?) * Shaka I (c. 325 – 345) * Kipunada (c. 345 – 375)

SEE ALSO

* Pre-Islamic period of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
* Indo-Parthian Kingdom * Kucha , another Tocharian-speaking kingdom (with a related etymology ) * History of Pakistan
Pakistan
* Mathura
Mathura
* Taxila
Taxila

NOTES

* ^ "The Rabatak inscription claims that in the year 1 Kanishka
Kanishka
I's authority was proclaimed in India, in all the satrapies and in different cities like Koonadeano (Kundina), Ozeno ( Ujjain
Ujjain
), Kozambo (Kausambi), Zagedo ( Saketa ), Palabotro ( Pataliputra ) and Ziri-Tambo (Janjgir-Champa). These cities lay to the east and south of Mathura, up to which locality Wima had already carried his victorious arm. Therefore they must have been captured or subdued by Kanishka
Kanishka
I himself." "Ancient Indian Inscriptions", S. R. Goyal, p. 93. See also the analysis of Sims-Williams and J.Cribb, who had a central role in the decipherment: "A new Bactrian inscription of Kanishka
Kanishka
the Great", in " Silk Road
Silk Road
Art and Archaeology" No4, 1995–1996. Also Mukherjee B.N. "The Great Kushanan Testament", Indian Museum Bulletin. * ^ The Kushans at first retained the Greek language
Greek language
for administrative purposes, but soon began to use Bactrian. The Bactrian Rabatak inscription (discovered in 1993 and deciphered in 2000) records that the Kushan king Kanishka the Great (c. 127 AD), discarded Greek (Ionian) as the language of administration and adopted Bactrian ("Arya language"), from Falk (2001): "The yuga of Sphujiddhvaja and the era of the Kuṣâṇas." Harry Falk. Silk Road
Silk Road
Art and Archaeology VII, p. 133. * ^ A B The Bactrian Rabatak inscription (discovered in 1993 and deciphered in 2000) records that the Kushan king Kanishka
Kanishka
the Great (c. 127 AD), discarded Greek (Ionian) as the language of administration and adopted Bactrian ("Arya language"), from Falk (2001): "The yuga of Sphujiddhvaja and the era of the Kuṣâṇas." Harry Falk. Silk Road
Silk Road
Art and Archaeology VII, p. 133. * ^ André Wink, Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: The Slavic Kings and the Islamic conquest, 11th-13th centuries, (Oxford University Press, 1997), 57. * ^ A B "Afghanistan: Central Asian and Sassanian Rule, ca. 150 B.C.-700 A.D.". United States: Library of Congress Country Studies . 1997. Retrieved 2012-08-16. * ^ The Dynasty Arts of the Kushans, University of California Press, 1967, p. 5 * ^ http://www.kushan.org/general/other/part1.htm and Si-Yu-Ki, Buddhist Records of the Western World, (Tr. Samuel Beal: Travels of Fa-Hian, The Mission of Sung-Yun and Hwei-S?ng, Books 1–5), Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd. London. 1906 and Hill (2009), pp. 29, 318–350 * ^ which began about 127 CE. "Falk 2001, pp. 121–136", Falk (2001), pp. 121–136, Falk, Harry (2004), pp. 167–176 and Hill (2009), pp. 29, 33, 368–371. * ^ Grégoire Frumkin (1970). Archaeology in Soviet Central Asia. Brill Archive. pp. 51–. GGKEY:4NPLATFACBB. * ^ Rafi U. Samad (2011). The Grandeur of Gandhara: The Ancient Buddhist Civilization of the Swat, Peshawar, Kabul
Kabul
and Indus Valleys. Algora Publishing. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-0-87586-859-2 . * ^ Runion, Meredith L. (2007). The history of Afghanistan. Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-313-33798-7 . The Yuezhi people conquered Bactria in the second century BCE. and divided the country into five chiefdoms, one of which would become the Kushan Empire. Recognizing the importance of unification, these five tribes combined under the one dominate Kushan tribe, and the primary rulers descended from the Yuezhi. * ^ A B Liu, Xinrui (2001). Adas, Michael, ed. Agricultural and pastoral societies in ancient and classical history. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-1-56639-832-9 . * ^ Enoki, Koshelenko & Haidary 1994 , pp. 171–191 * ^ Girshman, Roman . "Ancient Iran: The movement of Iranian peoples". Encyclopædia Britannica Online . Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 May 2015. At the end of the 3rd century, there began in Chinese Turkistan a long migration of the Yuezhi, an Iranian people who invaded Bactria about 130 bc, putting an end to the Greco-Bactrian kingdom there. (In the 1st century bc they created the Kushān dynasty, whose rule extended from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
to the Ganges River and from Russian Turkistan to the estuary of the Indus.) * ^ Pulleyblank 1966 , pp. 9–39 * ^ Mallory 1989 , pp. 59–60 * ^ Mallory 1997 , pp. 591–593 * ^ Mallory & Mair (2000) , pp. 270–297. * ^ A B Loewe & Shaughnessy 1999 , pp. 87–88 * ^ Benjamin, Craig (October 2003). "The Yuezhi Migration and Sogdia". Transoxiana Webfestschrift. Transoxiana. 1 (Ēran ud Anērān). Retrieved 29 May 2015. * ^ "Zhang Qian". Encyclopædia Britannica Online . Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 May 2015. * ^ West 2009 , pp. 713–717 * ^ "They are, by almost unanimous opinion, Indo-Europeans, probably the most oriental of those who occupied the steppes." Roux, p.90 * ^ Hill (2009), p. 36 and notes. * ^ H.G. Rawlinson., India, A Short Cultural History, P 105 * ^ " Kushan Empire
Empire
(ca. 2nd century B.C.3rd century A.D.) Thematic Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art". metmuseum.org. Retrieved 2015-10-23. * ^ Hill (2009), p. 311. * ^ Loewe, Michael A.N. (1979). "Introduction". In Hulsewé, Anthony François Paulus. China
China
in Central Asia: The Early Stage: 125 BC – AD 23; an Annotated Translation of Chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty. Brill. pp. 1–70. ISBN 978-90-04-05884-2 . pp. 23–24. * ^ Lebedynsky, p. 62. * ^ Lebedynsky, p. 15. * ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire
Empire
of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9 . * ^ A B C Hill (2009), p. 29. * ^ Chavannes (1907), pp. 190–192. * ^ S. Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013, p. 53 * ^ Starr, p. 53 * ^ A B C D E F Rosenfield, p. 41. * ^ For " Malwa
Malwa
and Maharashtra, for which it is speculated that the Kushans had an alliance with the Western Kshatrapas ", see: Rosenfield, p. 41. * ^ Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A History of South-East Asia, Fourth Edition. Hong Kong: Macmillan Education Ltd. p. 17. ISBN 0-333-24163-0 . * ^ For a translation of the full text of the Rabatak inscription see: Mukherjee, B.N., "The Great Kushana Testament", Indian Museum Bulletin, Calcutta, 1995. This translation is quoted in: Goyal (2005), p.88. * ^ For quotation: "The Rabatak inscription claims that in the year 1 Kanishka
Kanishka
I's authority was proclaimed in India, in all the satrapies and in different cities like Koonadeano (Kundina), Ozeno (Ujjain), Kozambo (Kausambi), Zagedo (Saketa), Palabotro (Pataliputra) and Ziri-Tambo (Janjgir-Champa). These cities lay to the east and south of Mathura, up to which locality Wima had already carried his victorious arm. Therefore they must have been captured or subdued by Kanishka
Kanishka
I himself."see: Goyal, p. 93. * ^ See also the analysis of Sims-Williams and J. Cribb, specialists of the field, who had a central role in the decipherment: "A new Bactrian inscription of Kanishka
Kanishka
the Great", in Silk Road
Silk Road
Art and Archaeology No. 4, 1995–1996. pp.75–142. * ^ Sims-Williams, Nicholas . "Bactrian Documents from Ancient Afghanistan". Archived from the original on 10 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-24. * ^ British Museum
British Museum
display, Asian Art room. * ^ The Sino-Kharosthi coins of Khotan
Khotan
part 2, Numismatic Chronicle (1984), pp.129-152., by Joe Cribb * ^ Falk (2001), pp. 121–136. * ^ Falk (2004), pp. 167–176. * ^ Xinru Liu, The Silk Road
Silk Road
in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 47. * ^ Sivaramamurti, p. 56-59. * ^ A B Loeschner, Hans (2012) The Stūpa of the Kushan Emperor Kanishka the Great Sino-Platonic Papers, No. 227 (July 2012); page 11 * ^ A B Bopearachchi, O. (2007). Some observations on the chronology of the early Kushans. Res Orientales, 17, 41-53 * ^ Sims-Williams, Nicolas. "Bactrian Language". Encyclopaedia Iranica. 3. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. * ^ H. Humbach, 1975, p.402-408. K.Tanabe, 1997, p.277, M.Carter, 1995, p.152. J.Cribb, 1997, p.40. References cited in "De l'Indus à l'Oxus". * ^ A B C Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition * ^ Perkins, J. (2007). Three-headed Śiva on the Reverse of Vima Kadphises's Copper Coinage. South Asian Studies, 23(1), 31-37 * ^ Xinru Liu, The Silk Road
Silk Road
in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 42. * ^ Xinru Liu, The Silk Road
Silk Road
in World History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 58. * ^ Neelis, Jason. Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks. 2010. p. 141 * ^ Birmingham Museum of Art
Birmingham Museum of Art
(2010). Birmingham Museum of Art
Birmingham Museum of Art
: guide to the collection. : Birmingham Museum of Art. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-904832-77-5 . * ^ Hill (2009), p. 31. * ^ A B C de Crespigny, Rafe. (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23-220 AD). Leiden: Koninklijke Brill. page 5-6. ISBN 90-04-15605-4 . * ^ A B Torday, Laszlo. (1997). Mounted Archers: The Beginnings of Central Asian History. Durham: The Durham Academic Press. page 393. ISBN 1-900838-03-6 . * ^ Joe Cribb, 1974, "Chinese lead ingots with barbarous Greek inscriptions in Coin Hoards" pp.76-8 * ^ A B C D E F The Glorious History of Kushana Empire, Adesh Katariya, 2012, p.69

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FURTHER READING

* Benjamin, Craig (2007). The Yuezhi: Origin, Migration and the Conquest of Northern Bactria. ISD. ISBN 250352429X . Retrieved 29 May 2015. * Dorn'eich, Chris M. (2008). Chinese sources on the History of the Niusi-Wusi-Asi (oi)-Rishi (ka)-Arsi-Arshi-Ruzhi and their Kueishuang- Kushan Dynasty. Shiji 110/Hanshu 94A: The Xiongnu: Synopsis of Chinese original Text and several Western Translations with Extant Annotations. Berlin. To read or download go to: * Foucher, M. A. 1901. "Notes sur la geographie ancienne du Gandhâra (commentaire à un chaptaire de Hiuen-Tsang)." BEFEO No. 4, Oct. 1901, pp. 322–369. * Hargreaves, H. (1910–11): "Excavations at Shāh-jī-kī Dhērī"; Archaeological Survey of India, 1910–11, pp. 25–32. * Harmatta, János , ed., 1994. History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Paris, UNESCO
UNESCO
Publishing. * Konow, Sten. Editor. 1929. Kharoshthī Inscriptions with Exception of those of Asoka. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. II, Part I. Reprint: Indological Book House, Varanasi, 1969. * Lerner, Martin (1984). The flame and the lotus: Indian and Southeast Asian art from the Kronos collections. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 0-87099-374-7 . * Litvinsky, B. A., ed., 1996. History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume III. The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. Paris, UNESCO
UNESCO
Publishing. * Liu, Xinru 2001 "Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies." Journal of World History , Volume 12, No. 2, Fall 2001. University of Hawaii Press, pp. 261–292. . * Sarianidi, Viktor . 1985. The Golden Hoard of Bactria: From the Tillya-tepe Excavations in Northern Afghanistan. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York. * Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 1998. "Further notes on the Bactrian inscription of Rabatak, with an Appendix on the names of Kujula Kadphises and Vima Taktu in Chinese." Proceedings of the Third European Conference of Iranian Studies Part 1: Old and Middle Iranian Studies. Edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams. Wiesbaden. 1998, pp. 79–93. * Spooner, D. B. 1908–9. "Excavations at Shāh-jī-kī Dhērī."; Archaeological Survey of India, 1908–9, pp. 38–59. * Watson, Burton. Trans. 1993. Records of the Grand Historian of China: Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
II. Translated from the Shiji of Sima Qian
Sima Qian
. Chapter 123: "The Account of Dayuan ," Columbia University Press. Revised Edition. ISBN 0-231-08166-9 ; ISBN 0-231-08167-7 (pbk.)