Monumental Entrance to Gandharan Buddhist Architecture
Stairs and Gates from Swat
The article presents a series of pieces excavated by the ISMEO Italian Archaeological Mission in two Buddhist sacred areas in Swat (Pakistan). The pieces are chosen for their connection to the theme of monumental entrances of cultic buildings. In the first case (Gumbat), the building is a shrine. In the second, (Amluk-dara) it is a Main Stupa. The pieces belong to three different entrance parts: lower sides of the stairs, decorated steps or stair-riser friezes, and decorated frames of doors. Pieces like these, which belong to specific architecture, can be hypothetically positioned in their places, allowing thus a more vivid reconstruction of the original appearance of the monuments. The decorative apparatus of the entrances to Buddhist monuments, although apparently extraneous to the religious language, is not less rich than the Buddhist iconographic programme illustrated on the stupas or inside the shrines. The second part of the article deals with the interpretation of the language of the entrance as ‘symbolic capital’ of the political élites, who were the donors of the great Buddhist architecture in Swat.