For my object study I would like to concentrate on objects connected with two of the religions practiced by the Sogdians: Buddhism and Hinduism. Although the artifacts are not numerous and rather sketchy, the influence of these two major world religions on Sogdians in Sogdiana and in the Sogdian colonies is undisputable. Most of my objects are either representations of the Buddha or Hindu deities or epics, or else images of native Sogdian deities which were directly influenced by the Hindu iconography.
This is connected with two of my research topics, Buddhism and Buddhist art in Sogdiana: the Sogdians as transmitters of Buddhism from India to the East, and Hindu and other Indian influences on Sogdian art and culture. One of my objects is more broadly connected with the importance of the Sogdian civilization in transmitting cultural heritage along the Silk Road.
I picked nine objects, seven of which are definitely of Sogdian origin, and two others seem to be closely connected with Sogdiana and Central Asian Buddhism. During my research, I hope to narrow this list down to six or seven objects.
Buddhism-connected objects of Sogdian origin:
Item #386 “Pendant in the Form of Buddha Sakyamuni”
Item #369 “Fragment of a Statuette of Buddha Making the Abhaya Mudra”
I will look into the dissemination of Buddhism in Sogdiana, and which evidence these objects present in this context. Does their presence mean that the Sogdians were Buddhist?
Hinduism-connected objects of Sogdian origin:
Item #373 ”Goddess on a Lion”
Item #374 “Goddess with Sun and Moon in Her Hands”
Item #364 “Deity with a Peacock”
Item #243 “Fragment of a Wall Painting with a Scene from Mahabharata”
Using these objects I will analyze the amount of Indian influence over the Sogdian art and other Sogdian practices. India was a neighbor, but rather inaccessible, because of the mountain range. Via which routes Indian ideas, practices and the bearers of all of above, Indian people, could access Sogdiana? What kind of influence stayed and developed in Sogdiana, and which of them moved further, to China, and eventually, to the Far East? What were the interactions between the Sogdians and the two major Indian religions, Buddhism and Hinduism? Which influences exerted Indian art and literature on Sogdian art and literature?
Buddhism-connected objects of Central Asian origin from the Hermitage collection:
Item #299 “Two-headed Buddha”
Item #278 “Prandhi”
One of the items is connected with the fact that Sogdians were transmitters of various cultures and beliefs through the whole length of the Silk Road, including the maritime routes to and from Japan:
Item #69 “Sandal Wood in the Huryu-ji Temple”
I will investigate how it may have arrived to Japan, which road it took, and what say the inscriptions. I will also analyze where the sandalwood came from, and which use it may have had in the Middle Ages.
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