Silk Road Religion

Superior Essays
This wooden votive panel depicts the Hindu god Shiva seated cross legged on checkered cushion and is littered with various religious and cultural symbols. It was found in Dandan-oilik, Khotan during 1907 by Sir Marc Aurel Stein during his second expedition to central Asia. According to the most recent estimates the panel is believed to have been created sometime during the 7th or 8th century. The various symbols also tell a great deal about the origins and influences of the painting. Religious imagery of a Hindu god being found so far north of India shows just how far the Silk Road’s influence stretched and implies that trade on the Silk Road was strongly connected to the spread of Hinduism and other religions in the 7th and 8th centuries. …show more content…
As stated earlier, this votive panel was found in Dandan-oilik, Khotan, dated to the 7th or 8th century, and features various influences from Iran, Buhddism, and Hinduism. It is generally agreed that Hinduism and Buddhism, in their more modern forms, were created in northern India around the mid-18th and 5th centuries BCE around the time of the Vedic period in India and the first Buddhist council in Rajgir. In contrast, the kingdom of Khotan was not founded until around the 3rd century BCE and is located several hundred miles from India and Iran across the dangerous Himalayan and Karakoram Mountain ranges. The Indian people would most likely have no direct knowledge of Khotan for a significant period of time and when they finally did learn of it they would have no reason to directly send priests over such a vast distance to spread their beliefs when they could do so in neighboring countries more easily. Instead, it is more likely that Indian Hindus, Buddhists and Iranians traded some of their artwork with other Silk Road cultures and that their artwork passed through several different regions before reaching Khotan, thus leading to the influences present in this motive panel. It is also possible that religious converts from regions neighboring India would go on to convert others and so on and so forth until Buddhism …show more content…
The iconography includes influences from Iran, Buddhism, Hinduism, Egypt and Greece. The religious imagery of Shiva obviously shows that the panel was made for and/or by Hindus, but the fact that it was found so far from the Hindu heartlands of north India implies that Silk Road trade may significantly accelerated the spread of religion throughout Central Asia. Interestingly, the panel also depicts Shiva in one of his human-like aspects, Mahesvara, wearing human clothes and on a simple cushion. This suggests that people began to link their own body and appearance to their gods around the 7th and 8th centuries. The analysis of the panel had led to a plethora of insights on the society of Inner Asian civilizations throughout the 7th and 8th

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