|Taxila, 17 November 2006 – Saadullah Bashir|
These photographs are from a cloudy afternoon visit to Taxila on 17 November 2006. Saad and I had been planning to go there since the past few months but kept delaying it owing to serious preoccupations such as a small measure of habitual sluggishness, and a great deal of fun we were having by simply spending time at home with friends and family. We reached the Taxila Museum at quarter to four, which was fifteen minutes before closing time. There were all the familiar stupas, buddha stuccos and urns, the dancing girl’s elaborate jewelry, etc.
And then we saw an unfamiliar figure, ‘Buddha in Abhayamudra’, right at the entrance of the museum which we noticed while leaving. Sculpted in schist, it would have stood around eight feet tall if fully intact. The staff was rather strict about not allowing us to take the camera in, but one of the senior personnel was kind enough to let us photograph this new addition: it had actually been excavated at Sehri Bahlol near Mardan, and had been put away in some sort of storage house in Islamabad for the past so many years. Only about a year back they decided to bring it to the museum for everyone to see. It was quite unusual and very pleasant to see such a large depiction of Buddha in stone—surely one of the masterpieces of Gandhara Art.
Photography by Saadullah Bashir