This is a sculpture of the Buddha, dating back from the 1st to 2nd century AD, found in what is today eastern Afghanistan (but what was then called Gandhara). Notice the resemblance to a Greek sculpture? That’s not a coincidence: this unique piece reflects a rare art form known Greco-Buddhist style.
This fusion of Greek, Indian, Persian, and Buddhist culture developed between 300 BC and the 400 AD in what is now modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It was the result of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India that began with Alexander the Great. Even though his empire collapsed almost right after his death, what most people don’t know is that it broke into various Greek-ruled kingdoms that remained for centuries and fused local cultures with Greek (also called Hellenic) culture.
Examples include Greek rulers claiming to be reincarnations of previous local leaders, certain Buddhist figures being portrayed as Greek gods (and visa versa), a combination of clothing styles, exchange of rituals, and even the creation of new languages and philosophies.
In fact, to this day, you can still find some Afghans, Pakistanis, and Indians who are descended from Greeks. It’s claimed that Buddhism may have influenced Western thought through Greece too: some have found similarities between the teachings of Jesus and the Stoics with that of the Buddha (though the connection is disputed and difficult to trace).
Borobudur Temple Park, Indonesia
A gift courtesy of the Iranian Pavilion of my local Asian Culture Festival.
Will the underestimated archipelago nation of 240 million people quietly become one of the world’s most influential countries? It would be an interesting development.
And I mean the physical gesture, not the tie :P
Huang Mei-yu and Yu Ya-ting wed Saturday in a traditional Buddhist ceremony. Their union still isn’t recognized by the Taiwanese government, though support for gay marriage is mounting across Asia.
Mount Cangyan, “Green Cliff Mountain,” in Jingxing County, Hebei Province, China. I certainly wouldn’t mind living there for a few months.
Indeed. This is from Kabul, Afghanistan. You can find more powerful images of education around the world here.
The sisters of the Amitabha Drukpa Nunnery — aged from nine to 52 — come from across Nepal, India, Tibet and Bhutan to learn the ancient Chinese discipline of kung fu, which they believe will help them be better Buddhists.
Every day, they exchange their maroon robes and philosophical studies for a intense 90-minute session of hand chops, punches, shrieks and soaring high kicks.
“The main reason for practising kung fu is for fitness and for health, but it also helps with meditation and self-defence,” 14-year-old Jigme Wangchuk Lhamo, who was sent to the nunnery from Bhutan four years ago, told AFP.
“When we practise kung fu we are doing something which gives us not only strong bodies but also strong minds.”
Buddhist nuns in the Himalayas have traditionally been seen as inferior to monks, with the women kept away from physically demanding exercise and relegated to menial tasks like cooking and cleaning.
But the 800-year-old Drukpa — or dragon — sect is changing all that by mixing meditation with martial arts as a means of empowering its women.
The nuns, in contrast to most Buddhist groups, are also taught to lead prayers and given basic business skills, as well as running a guest house and coffee shop at the abbey and driving jeeps to Kathmandu to get supplies.