Blog #3- The Kushanas

The articles, Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies by Xinru Liu and Kushan Sculpture by Stanislaw J. Czuma are both historical investigations into the  culmination and cultural contribution of the Kushana empire in South Asia, originating on the borders of the agricultural region of China as nomadic pastoralists. While Liu attempts to uncover and comprehend the impact of the Kushanas on the cultures of the people they conquered, Czuma’s investigation delves into the very specifics of Kushana influence on the ancient Indian art relative to the other eras preceding as well as following the Kushana period in India. Despite adapting two different approaches in investigating the Kushan influence, both the articles successfully highlight a very important detail often overlooked by contemporary scholars while tracing the development of human civilization; early civilizations by no means developed in isolation, rather these civilizations developed by means of exchange with other peoples. The aforementioned “exchanges” encompassed material exchanges and included abstract exchanges of ideas, and beliefs between the various civilizations, for example, the Kushanas were as much influenced by Indian beliefs and customs as the Indians were by the customs of the Indo-Europeans. As a nomadic people, the Kushanas lacked an intricate culture and so they did not leave a perceivable lasting legacy on the Indian people, however, they themselves facilitated the flourishing of the arts in India by being a patron to the arts, Buddhist art in particular and this was presumably their greatest contribution to the growth and prosperity of the early Indian civilizations. The Kushan Empire exemplifies one of the few domains in the history of the world in which the rulers had not imposed their own culture and way of life on their subjects or had not even attempted to oppress the culture of the people they ruled over, which in this case, is the people of the Indian sub-continent. In other words, the Kushanas seemed to harbour respect and admiration towards the customs of their subjects, a quality rarely found in imperialists from any given time in history.

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