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Word Count: 1,250
Hellenism on the Silk Road Along the Silk Road merchants traded desirable wares from all over Asia and the Mediterranean Gold porcelain spices jewelry textiles and about anything else material that any civilization along this vast network of trade routes could create Along with material concerns however came the much more lasting and intriguing effect of cultural exchange religions ideas food architectural developments philosophy and art all moved along the routes with these travelers from town to town Some eventually spread all the way from the Greco-Roman world to China and Japan Alexander the Great was one of the foremost pioneers into the Middle Eastern world Crossing as far as modern Uzbekistan Alexander brought with him to every region Greek craftsmen soldiers and religion One of the most profound and lasting impacts made by Alexanders forays into Asia was introducing the Greek tradition of sculpture much admired by the Romans in the West into the area known as Transoxiana now Gandhara in North India Much of early Gandharan Buddhist art bears witness to this transfer of aesthetic ideology In a work recently acquired by the Freer Gallery of Art a Head of a Buddha one can see the Hellenistic tradition quite clearly There are strong examples of realism in this Buddha head relatively unique to Greek art The text of Jerry Bentleys Old World Encounters contends that Hellenistic tradition had a great impact on Buddhist art mainly due to the fact that earlier Buddhists thought it wrong to portray the Buddha as corporeal but rather he should be shown by symbols Their first influences to create figural images of the Buddha came from the Hellenistic invaders and their devotional practices The hair of the Buddha is naturalistic not the stylized snail curls seen in many statues of the Buddha Each tendril of the hair is carefully chiseled out and moves gently over his head and ushnisha The cheekbones are high
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