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Positioning Gandhāran Buddhas in chronology: significant coordinates and anomalies
Rienjang W. (ed.) 2018. Problems of Chronology in Gandhāran Art. p35-52 by Juhyung Rhi. DOI: 10.32028/9781784918552P35-52.
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In tackling the bewildering complexity surrounding the chronology of Gandhāran Buddhist imagery, we are naturally tempted to start with dated images, although we have to admit simultaneously that those dates are at the very centre of the complexity. Numerous scholars have examined, or at least commented on, the problem in previous scholarship,1 and I am going to add yet another attempt to the list on this occasion (see further Stefan Baumsís paper in the present volume, especially his Appendix 4). My approach may differ in that I will try to explore the problem in relation to five major visual types I have identified among Gandhāran Buddhas in my previous work (Rhi 2008). In particular, I am interested in positioning the dated images in conjunction with the five groups and discussing the ramifications of this placement for drawing a large chronological picture of Gandhāran Buddhist imagery. The following discussions will take two premises into consideration. First, the development of Gandhāran Buddhist imagery probably did not unfold in a single, linear process, which often formed an implicit basis of previous discussions on chronology. We have to take into consideration that there were a number of small and large formal series that had different origins temporally or spatially. Second, these formal series could often have coexisted chronologically, thus overlapping or being interrelated to one another, rather than a single, unified visual form monopolizing a given period of time.


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