The KUSHAN EMPIRE (
Ancient Greek : Βασιλεία
Κοσσανῶν; Bactrian : Κυϸανο, Kushano;
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
Afghanistan , and then the northern parts of the Indian
subcontinent at least as far as
Sarnath near Varanasi
(Benares), where inscriptions have been found dating to the era of the
Kanishka the Great . Emperor
Kanishka was a great
Buddhism ; however, as
Kushans expanded southward toward the
Indian subcontinent the deities of their later coinage came to reflect
Kushans were one of five branches of the
a possibly Iranic or Tocharian , Indo-European nomadic
people who migrated from
Gansu and settled in ancient
Bactria . The
Kushans possibly used the
Greek language initially for administrative
purposes, but soon began to use
Bactrian language .
Kanishka sent his
armies north of the
Karakoram mountains , capturing territories as far
Khotan and Yarkant , in the
Tarim Basin of modern-day
China . A direct road from
China remained under
Kushan control for more than a century, encouraging travel across the
Karakoram and facilitating the spread of
Buddhism to China.
Kushan dynasty had diplomatic contacts with the
Roman Empire ,
Sasanian Persia ,
Aksumite Empire and Han
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.
Kushan empire fragmented into semi-independent kingdoms in the
3rd century AD, which fell to the Sasanians invading from the west,
Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom in the areas of
Gandhara . In the 4th century, the Guptas , an Indian
dynasty also pressed from the east. The last of the
Sasanian kingdoms were eventually overwhelmed by invaders from
the north, known as the
Kidarites , and then the
Historian H. G. Rawlinson states that the "Kushana Period is a fitting
prelude to the age of Guptas".
* 1 Origins
* 2 Early
* 3 Diverse cultural influences
* 4 Territorial expansion
* 5 Main
Kujula Kadphises (c. 30 – c. 80)
* 5.2 Vima Taktu or
Sadashkana (c. 80 – c. 95)
Vima Kadphises (c. 95 – c. 127)
Kanishka I (c. 127 – c. 140)
Vāsishka (c. 140 – c. 160)
Huvishka (c. 160 – c. 190)
Vasudeva I (c. 190 – c. 230)
* 8 Contacts with
* 9 Contacts with
* 10 Decline
* 11 Rulers
* 12 See also
* 13 Notes
* 14 References
* 15 Further reading
* 16 External links
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".
Yuezhi were described in the
Records of the Great Historian and
Book of Han
Book of Han as living in the grasslands of
Gansu , in the
northwest of modern-day China, until they were driven west by the
Xiongnu in 176–160 BCE. The five tribes constituting the
known in Chinese history as Xiūmì (休密), Guìshuāng (貴霜),
Shuāngmǐ (雙靡), Xìdùn (肸頓), and Dūmì (都密).
Yuezhi reached the Hellenic kingdom of Greco-
Bactria (in northern
Afghanistan and Uzbekistan) around 135 BC. The displaced Greek
dynasties resettled to the southeast in areas of the
Hindu Kush and
the Indus basin (in present-day
Afghanistan and Pakistan), occupying
the western part of the
Indo-Greek Kingdom .
Head of a
Kushan prince (
Some traces remain of the presence of the
Kushans in the area of
Sogdiana . Archaeological structures are known in
Surkh Kotal (a monumental temple), and in the palace
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
Heraios (1-30 CE).
The earliest documented ruler, and the first one to proclaim himself
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
Kushan Empire, known to the Greeks and Romans under the name
Empire of the
Hou Hanshu chronicles gives an account of the formation
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 ) 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 ) region. He also defeated the whole of the
kingdoms of Puda (Paktiya) and Jibin (Kapisha and
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.
DIVERSE CULTURAL INFLUENCES
Greek alphabet (narrow columns) with
Kushan script (wide
columns). A Buddhist devotee in
Kushan dress, Mathura, 2nd
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
designate the confederation, although the Chinese continued to call
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 's Pothowar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
region but going in an arc to include the
Kabul valley and part of
Qandahar in Afghanistan) and established twin capitals in
Peshawar , then known as Kapisa and Pushklavati respectively. The
Kushan writing system used the
Greek alphabet , with the addition of
the letter Sho (associated with the Greek
Kushans adopted elements of the Hellenistic culture of Bactria.
They adopted the
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 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
Kushans "adopted many local beliefs and customs, including
Zoroastrianism and the two rising religions in the region, the Greek
Buddhism ". From the time of
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
Vima Kadphises may have embraced
Saivism (a sect of
Hinduism ), as surmised by coins minted during the period. The
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 through the long-civilized Indus
Valley . At the height of the dynasty, the
Kushans loosely ruled a
territory that extended to the
Aral Sea through present-day Uzbekistan
Afghanistan , and
Pakistan into northern India.
The loose unity and comparative peace of such a vast expanse
encouraged long-distance trade, brought Chinese silks to
Rome , and
created strings of flourishing urban centers.
Kushan king or prince,
Greco-Buddhist art of
Gandhara , 2nd-3rd
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
Taxila , and
Mathura , the winter capital of the
Other areas of probable rule include
of Allahabad University),
Sarnath (inscriptions with names
and dates of
Maharashtra , Odisha
Kushan coins, and large
Kushan hoards). Remains of
Kushan fortress in
Kushan invasions in the 1st century CE had been given as an
explanation for the migration of Indians from the Indian Subcontinent
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 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:
Kundina , Saketa, Kausambi,
Pataliputra , and Champa (although the
text is not clear whether Champa was a possession of
Kanishka or just
beyond it). The
Kushan state was bounded to the south by the
Pārata state of
Balochistan , western
known for the kushan Buddhist city of
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
Northward, in the 2nd century AD, the
various forays into the
Tarim Basin , where they had various contacts
with the Chinese. Both archaeological findings and literary evidence
Kushan rule, in
Kashgar , Yarkand and
MAIN KUSHAN RULERS
Offerings found in
Bodh Gaya under the "Enlightenment Throne of
the Buddha", with an impression of an imitation of a coin of the
Huvishka , 2nd century CE.
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
These conquests probably took place sometime between 45 and 60, and
laid the basis for the
Empire which was rapidly expanded by his
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 (Ancient Chinese: 閻膏珍 Yangaozhen) is mentioned in
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 I. He expanded the
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
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 I, as
detailed by the Rabatak inscription.
Vima Kadphises added to the
Kushan territory by his conquests in
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)
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 ruled a
huge territory (virtually all of northern India), south to
Kundina and east beyond Pataliputra, according to the Rabatak
Qila Mubarak fort at
India was built
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 in northwestern Pakistan) and Mathura, in northern India. He
is also credited (along with Raja Dab ) for building the massive,
ancient Fort at
Qila Mubarak ), in the modern city of
Bathinda , Indian
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 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
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
Vidisa ), where several inscriptions in his name have been found,
dated to the year 22 (The
Sanchi inscription of "Vaksushana" – i. e.
Vasishka Kushana) and year 28 (The
Sanchi inscription of Vasaska –
i. e. Vasishka) of the
HUVISHKA (C. 160 – C. 190)
Huvishka (Kushan: Οοηϸκι, "Ooishki") was a
Kushan emperor from
about 20 years after the death of
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
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 or Kushanshahs in what is nowadays Afghanistan,
Pakistan and northwestern
India from around 240 AD.
Kartikeya with a
Kushan devotee, 2nd century CE.
Kushan prince making a donation to a
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
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:
Oesho (see details below).
The Iranic entities depicted on coinage include:
* Αρδοχþο (ardoxsho,
Ashi Vanghuhi )
* Aþαειχþo (ashaeixsho,
Asha Vahishta )
* Αθþο (athsho,
* Φαρρο (pharro,
* Λροοασπο (lrooaspa,
* Μαναοβαγο, (manaobago,
Vohu Manah )
* Μαο (mao,
* Μιθρο, Μιιρο, Μιορο, Μιυρο (mithro and
* Μοζδοοανο (mozdooano, Mazda *vana "Mazda the
* Νανα, Ναναια, Ναναϸαο (variations of pan-Asiatic
nana, Sogdian nny, Nana )
* Οαδο (oado Vata )
* Oαxþo (oaxsho, "Oxus")
* Ooρoμoζδο (ooromozdo,
Ahura Mazda )
* Οραλαγνο (orlagno,
* Τιερο (tiero, Tir )
Representation of entities from Greek mythology and Hellenistic
* Ηλιος (
Helios ), Ηφαηστος (
Hephaistos ), Σαληνη
Selene ), Ανημος (
Anemos ). Further, the coins of
portray the demi-god erakilo
Heracles , and the Egyptian god sarapo
The Indic entities represented on coinage include:
* Βοδδο (boddo, Buddha )
* Μετραγο Βοδδο (metrago boddo, bodhisattava
* Mαασηνo (maaseno, Mahasena)
* Σκανδo koμαρo (skando komaro, Skanda Kumara)
* þακαμανο Βοδδο (shakamano boddho,
Shakyamuni Buddha )
* Οηϸο (oesho), long considered to represent Indic
but also identified as
Avestan Vayu conflated with Shiva.
* Two copper coins of
Huvishka bear a 'Ganesa' legend, but instead
of depicting the typical theriomorphic figure of
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 , 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
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
Shiva with bull
Skanda and Visakha
Gold coin of
Kanishka the Great, with a depiction of the Buddha,
with the legend "Boddo" in Greek script;
Carnelian seal representing the "ΑΔϷΟ" (adsho Atar),
with triratana symbol left, and
Kanishka the Great's dynastic mark
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 because he is
in ithyphallic state, holds a trident , and the Nandi bull is his
mount, as in
Hindu mythology. Others suggest him as
Zoroastrian Vayu .
KUSHANS AND BUDDHISM
Kanishka the Great inaugurates
Buddhism . Illustration
from 1910 Early
Mahayana Buddhist triad. From left to right, a
Maitreya , the Buddha ,
Avalokitesvara , and a
Buddhist monk. 2nd–3rd century,
Kushans inherited the
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,
China and other Asian countries through the
Silk Road .
Kanishka is renowned in Buddhist tradition for having convened a
great Buddhist council in
Kashmir . Along with his predecessor in the
region the Indo-Greek king
Menander I (Milinda) and the Indian
Harsha Vardhana ,
Kanishka is considered by
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
other parts of Asia. With the development of Buddhist books, it caused
a new written language called Gandhara.
Gandhara consists of eastern
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 , 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 Buddha" by a family of
merchants. There is also some evidence that
Huvishka himself was a
follower of Mahāyāna
Buddhism . A
Sanskrit manuscript fragment in
the Schøyen Collection describes
Huvishka as one who has "set forth
in the Mahāyāna."
Standing Female, 1st century CE Terracotta. This lively female
figure comes from an area of
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.
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 and future Buddha
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 Greco-Roman gladiator on a
glass vessel, Begram, 2nd century
Several Roman sources describe the visit of ambassadors from the
India during the 2nd century, probably referring
to the Kushans. Coin of the Roman Emperor
Trajan , found together
with coins of
Kanishka the Great at the
Ahin Posh Monastery
Historia Augusta , speaking of Emperor
Hadrian (117–138) tells:
Reges Bactrianorum legatos ad eum, amicitiae petendae causa,
"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 (Praef., 7),
Antoninus Pius , successor to Hadrian, received
some Indian, Bactrian
"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." —
The summer capital of the
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
During the 1st and 2nd century, the
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 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 , east of the Tarim Basin. The
Kushan Buddhist monk Lokaksema , first known translator of Buddhist
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 during the reign of emperor He of Han (89–106).
Later, around 116, the
Kanishka established a kingdom
centered on Kashgar, also taking control of
Khotan and Yarkand, which
were Chinese dependencies in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang. They
introduced the Brahmi script, the Indian
Prakrit language for
administration, and expanded the influence of
Greco-Buddhist art which
Serindian art .
Eastern Han inscriptions on lead
ingot, using barbarous
Greek alphabet in the style of the
Shaanxi , 1st-2nd century CE.
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,
Kushan Buddhist missionaries, such as Lokaksema , became active in
the Chinese capital cities of
Loyang and sometimes
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
Hormizd I Kushanshah (277-286 CE), king of the
Sasanian rule in former
Kushan territories of the
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 and lost
Gandhara to them. The Sasanians deposed the Western
dynasty and replaced them with Persian vassals known as the Kushanshas
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 under
In 360 a Kidarite Hun named
Kidara overthrew the
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
These remnants of the
Kushan empire were ultimately wiped out in the
5th century by the invasions of the
Hephthalites , the
Alchon Huns and
Nezak Huns in the northwest, and the rise of the
Gupta empire in
Kushan royal tamgas .
Heraios (c. 1 – 30), first
Kushan ruler, generally
period is disputed
Kujula Kadphises (c. 30 – c. 80)
Vima Takto , (c. 80 – c. 95) alias Soter Megas or "Great
Vima Kadphises (c. 95 – c. 127) the first great
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
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
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)
* Pre-Islamic period of
Kucha , another Tocharian-speaking kingdom (with a related
* History of
* ^ "The
Rabatak inscription claims that in the year 1
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
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 the Great",
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 for
administrative purposes, but soon began to use Bactrian. The Bactrian
Rabatak inscription (discovered in 1993 and deciphered in 2000)
records that the
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 Art and
Archaeology VII, p. 133.
* ^ A B The Bactrian
Rabatak inscription (discovered in 1993 and
deciphered in 2000) records that the
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."
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,
* ^ 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 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
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
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
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 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
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* ^ "Zhang Qian".
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* ^ West 2009 , pp. 713–717
* ^ "They are, by almost unanimous opinion, Indo-Europeans,
probably the most oriental of those who occupied the steppes." Roux,
* ^ Hill (2009), p. 36 and notes.
* ^ H.G. Rawlinson., India, A Short Cultural History, P 105
* ^ "
Empire (ca. 2nd century B.C.3rd century A.D.)
Thematic Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan
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* ^ Hill (2009), p. 311.
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* ^ Lebedynsky, p. 62.
* ^ Lebedynsky, p. 15.
* ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The
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* ^ S. Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden
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* ^ Starr, p. 53
* ^ A B C D E F Rosenfield, p. 41.
* ^ For "
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* ^ 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),
* ^ For quotation: "The
Rabatak inscription claims that in the year
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
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 the Great", in
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
British Museum display, Asian Art room.
* ^ The Sino-Kharosthi coins of
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 in World History (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2010), 47.
* ^ Sivaramamurti, p. 56-59.
* ^ A B Loeschner, Hans (2012) The Stūpa of the
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
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1995, p.152. J.Cribb, 1997, p.40. References cited in "De l'Indus à
* ^ A B C Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition
* ^ Perkins, J. (2007). Three-headed Śiva on the Reverse of Vima
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* ^ Xinru Liu, The
Silk Road in World History (New York: Oxford
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* ^ Xinru Liu, The
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* ^ Neelis, Jason. Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks.
2010. p. 141
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