Sculptors and stone carvers known as “miracle-warrior of Taxila” who are famous across the globe for their excellent masterpieces from Gandhara art by producing hundreds of unique replicas on black and schist stone.
Gandhara Art, a contribution of the inhabitants of Gandhara, shows influences from the main land Indians, Greeks, Romans and Persian artists. The art appeared in this region in the 1st century BC, strengthened in the 1st century AD, flourished till 5th century and lingered on till 8th century. The purpose of this art was the propagation of Buddhism through the images carved and made in stone, stucco, terracotta and bronze, mostly enshrined in the stupas and monasteries throughout Gandhara. According to renowned intellectual, archaeologist and historian Prof AH Dani, “the art presents a heterogeneous social picture of the time- a medley of foreign immigrants, Greek, Scythian, Parthian, Kushan, Huns and Turk, al intermixed with the local populace in the mundane affairs of the world. Above all the primary aim of the art is not to extol the kings or their ministers but to adore the Buddha, his whole life from birth to death and the preaching that he delivered to mankind for the observation of moral ways of life and for salvation”. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the art of stone carving and sculpture making was shifted from generations to generations.
Pakistan is land from where the Gandhara art in which Buddha image on black stone carving was flourished across the world and its is artists from Taxila whom master pieces are now decorated in the personal museums of the people in Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, France, UK and Thailand .
Taxila, a city situated in Pakistan is the abode of many splendid Buddhist establishments. Taxila, the main centre of Gandhara, is over 3,000 years old. Taxila had attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 BC, with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. Taxila later came under the Mauryan dynasty and reached a remarkable matured level of development under the great Ashoka. During this time Taxila important center for culture, trade and learning. The Gandhara civilization was not only the centre of spiritual influence but also the cradle of the world famous Gandhara culture, art and learning. It was from these centers that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Buddhism left a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in Pakistan. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the art of stone carving and sculpture making was shifted from generations to generations but today it face extinction due to socio-economic condition, unjust laws of federal department of archaeology and museums and fleecing by the national and international smugglers.
These warriors carves replicas of Gandhara art in such a way that even the sharpest of the cognoscenti can tell the difference between the real and the copy, except that the latter has a fresh look. Although, if required, they can make his work look 3,000 years old. After visit to their workshops one see that fascinated admirers watched them open-mouthed as they plied their minute hammers and chisels on black and schist stone. They were working from memory and did not falter at any point or make a mistake.
Taxila was known as ‘city of artisans’ because of its cultural and historical importance and housing various arts and artisans, but now it is fast losing its glory as majority of arts for which the city was famous are leaving the profession due to lack of patronage by the government and national institutions, exploiting by the smugglers mafia and religio-social pressure from the society.
The local sculptors and stone carvers demanded that their carvings may be issued necessary certificates so that their export would be facilitated, as it would not only earn exchequer for national kitty but also survive the different schools of sculptors and stone carvers from further extinction. It is need of the hour that Pakistani Ministry of culture and department of archaeology and museums should join hands to soften the rules and allowed these miracle-warriors of Taxila to export their masterpieces abroad especially where Buddhism is practicing religion.
The threats from religious extremists, social pressure, exploiting from the influential smugglers mafia and lack of patronage from the national and international art institutions, Taxila is fast losing its sculptor which is world famous for carving Buddha images and Gandhara art.