2005–2006 I was research fellow at the Lumbini International Research Institute, Nepal, to work on the project described below. From the original scope only the first of three parts was researched in greater depth, since I was offered an interim teaching position after the first year of fellowship. Results of this project are listed below and those featured on the Gandhara research page are linked to in the sidebar.

Buddhism and Art in Historical Northwest India
From the Kuṣāṇa period to its disappearance (1st century to 13th century AD)

Historical Northwest India – mainly the region of present day Pakistan, but also including the areas of Kashmir, Punjab, Eastern Afghanistan and smaller regions north of it – links the Indian peninsula to the Near East, Central Asia and the Far East. Trade routes crossing Historical Northwest India in all directions connected these areas, foremost among them the Silk Route. For more than a millennium, these routes were of eminent importance for the exchange of goods and technology as well as the exchange of ideas and beliefs. Goods, ideas and beliefs were also transformed along the way, adapted to suit local needs before they were traded further. As a hub that connected vast, divergent and highly diversified cultural areas, Historical Northwest India is of exceptional import for understanding the cultural exchange between these areas.

Among the many cultural goods that were exchanged was Buddhism. Tradition maintains that a colossal image of the Bodhisattva Maitreya—erected in Darel, present-day northern Pakistan—has opened the path for Buddhism to East Asia. Buddhism also spread to Afghanistan and the areas immediately north of it. During the Kuṣāṇa period, the area became a thriving and highly innovative centre of Buddhist practice. The creation of the first Buddha image, the introduction of image worship in general, and the emergence of a cult focusing on Maitreya are only a few of the major innovations that took place during the Kuṣāṇa period. Such innovations had far reaching influence in India and beyond. As the reports of Chinese pilgrims evidence, Buddhism remained an active and innovative force in the region. Later in the first millennium trade, and with it Buddhism, was gradually pushed into the less accessible regions of the Northwestern Himalayas, resulting in regional centres such as Bamiyan, Gilgit and the Purang-Guge kingdom.

The proposed research project seeks to focus on three distinct but interconnected topics of Buddhism and its artistic heritage in historical Northwest India. These topics are of special importance for a better understanding of the area as a hub for the exchange of Buddhist ideas and practices. An inquiry into the role of Maitreya during the Kuṣāṇa period and its interconnection with the development of Mahāyāna Buddhism provides a new perspective on some of the crucial questions regarding the history of Buddhism, among them the involvement of lay followers and their practices in the development of Mahāyāna. A study of the rock engravings and inscriptions documented by the project “Rock Carvings and Inscriptions along the Karakorum Highway” of the Heidelberg Academy for the Humanities and Sciences, together with the so-called Gilgit bronzes and the texts found in the area, provides a unique glimpse of the Buddhist art and practice within a local principality. Finally, the reconsideration of the interrelationship of the topics and functions of bronzes attributed to the wider Northwest Indian region, including the western Himalayas, embraces the changes in beliefs and practices on both a geographical and temporal basis.


“The diffusion of Gandharan and Indian models in South Asia.” In Art et civilisation de l’orient hellénisé: Rencontres et échanges culturels d’Alexandre aux Sassanides, edited by Pierre Leriche. Paris: Editions A&J Picard, 2014: 245–250.

“The Buddha Beyond. Figuration in Gandharan Cult Imagery.” In Nepalica-Tibetica. Festgabe für Christoph Cüppers, edited by Franz-Karl Ehrhard, & Petra Maurer. Beiträge zur Zentralasienforschung, 28, 2. Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2013: 1–21.

With Paul Harrison “New Light on (and from) the Muhammad Nari Stele.” In 2011 nendo dai ikkai kokusai shinpojiumu puroshīdingusu: Jōdokyō ni kansuru tokubetsu kokusai shinpojiumu, BARC International Symposium Series 1: Special International Symposium on Pure Land Buddhism, Kyoto: Ryukoku University Research Center for Buddhist Cultures in Asia, 2012: 69-127 [plates 197-207].
- Also published in Japanese in the same volume: P.ハリソン & C.ルクザニッツ「モハマッド・ナリー浮彫に関する新解釈」[上枝いづ み・尾白悠紀・吉岡慈文訳、宮治昭・福山泰子監修](『2011 年度 第1 回 国際シンポジ ウムプロシーディングス― 浄土教関する特別国際シンポジウム』龍谷大学アジア仏 教文化研究センター、2012 年 3 月、131-194 頁[図版 197-207 頁]).

“Gandhara and Its Art.” 12–24; “The Bodhisattva and the Future Buddha Maitreya.” 59–64; “Art and Architecture.” 73–83. In The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan. Art of Gandhara, edited by Proser Adriana. New York: Asia Society Museum, 2011.

“Gandhara and Its Art.” 16–26; “Early Buddhism and Gandhara.” 72–77; “The Bodhisattva and the Future Buddha Maitreya.” 249–53; “Art and Architecture.” 314–17 and “Stucco and Clay.” 318–20. In Gandhara – The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan. Legends, Monasteries and Paradise, Mainz – Bonn: Zabern – Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der BRD, 2008.

“Buddhism in a Cosmopolitan Environment: The Art of Gandhara,”Orientations39, no. 7 (2008): 46–52.

“The Bodhisattva with the Flask in Gandhāran Narrative Scenes.” East and West, dedicated to Maurizio Taddei 55, no. 1–4 (2005): 163–88.