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Who was Ganesh? – Hinduism – India

By |2017-07-21T08:45:00+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Ganesh (Musee Guimet, Paris, from Tamil Nadu, ca. 1500 AD) Ganesh was one of the Hindu gods. He has an elephant head, so he's easy to spot in Indian art. Usually Ganesh also has a big belly and four arms. Sometimes Ganesh is dancing, or eating candy, or riding on a mouse. People in India first began to [...]

History of India – Early South Asia

By |2017-07-20T11:54:00+00:00July 20th, 2017|History, India|

Clay figurines from Mehrgahr India was one of the first places people came to after they left Africa. They travelled along the coast around the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. The first people probably arrived in India about 50,000 BC. They probably lived along the coast, and used small boats. They ate a lot of fish and shellfish, like [...]

Gupta period in India – Ancient India

By |2018-04-23T15:15:59+00:00July 20th, 2017|History, India|

Coin of Samudragupta In 319 AD, King Chandragupta I managed to unite all of northern India into a great empire again. (He was not related to the Mauryan Chandragupta, but he wanted people to think he was). Chandragupta I even conquered some of South India. People called him "King of Kings", like the Iranian emperors further north. [...]

Indian art – Ancient and medieval

By |2018-04-23T15:13:04+00:00July 19th, 2017|Art, India|

Indian art: Krishna The major themes of Indian art seem to begin emerging as early as the Harappan period, about 2500 BC. Although we're still not sure, some Harappan images look like later images of Vishnu and Shiva, and the tradition may start this early. With the arrival of the Indo-Europeans (or Aryans) around 1500 BC, came new Central Asian artistic [...]

Guptan temples – Indian architecture

By |2017-07-19T12:10:33+00:00July 19th, 2017|Architecture, India|

Tigawa temple, 350 AD When the Mauryan empire collapsed, about 200 BC, for more than five hundred years Indian leaders were too busy fighting wars against each other to build any big buildings. But around 350 AD some victorious leaders formed a new empire, the Guptan Empire. Once there was peace, people began to build again, and, for the first [...]

What is Zen? A branch of Chinese Buddhism

By |2018-10-12T08:23:18+00:00June 7th, 2017|China, Religion|

Zen master Bodhidharma sitting alone Bodhidharma: the first Zen master In Zen Buddhist traditions (but nobody really knows), the first Zen master was a Brahman man called Bodhidharma. According to these stories, Bodhidharma came to China from India about 425 AD. Possibly Bodhidharma was fleeing the Guptan kings. They were Hindus and not Buddhists, so [...]

Who was Xuanzang? A Buddhist scholar of medieval China

By |2018-04-18T09:54:15+00:00June 7th, 2017|Central Asia, China, India, Religion|

Travels of the Buddhist traveller Xuanzang (T'ang Dynasty, 630 AD) Xuanzang was a great Chinese scholar who lived in the 600s AD, under the T'ang dynasty. He was a Buddhist, and he wanted to see India, where the Buddha had lived. So he traveled from the Chinese capital at Changan to India and [...]

Sogdians in China – History of Central Asia

By |2017-05-31T17:22:37+00:00May 31st, 2017|Central Asia, History|

Sogdian traders in China about 550 AD (Musee Guimet) Even after the fall of the Han Dynasty, the Sogdians still controlled Silk Road trade between West Asia and China. By the 300s AD the Sogdians seem to have been the main traders not only between China and West Asia, but also between China and [...]

White Huns – Central Asian history

By |2017-05-31T12:20:22+00:00May 31st, 2017|Central Asia, History|

A White Hun coin In the 300s AD, the White Huns were living in the kingdom of the Rouran, in Central Asia north-west of China. Probably the White Huns were mostly Indo-Europeans who spoke a language related to Sogdian and Persian, but there were Turkic people among the White Huns as well. The White [...]