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Impact of Central Asian Contacts (During Shaka-Kushan age)

21-JUL-2015 11:18

    Pottery and Structure

    The typical pottery of this age (Shaka-Kushan age) was red ware both in plain and polished form. It was similar to red pottery with thin fabric discovered in Kushan Empire in Central Asia. Red pottery techniques were quite common in Central Asia.

    This age was marked by the construction of brick-walls. The use of burnt bricks for flooring and of tiles for both roofing and flooring was evident.

    Shaka and Kushan introduced better cavalry

    Shaka and Kushan period saw the use of better cavalry. The use of reins and saddles were introduced by Shakas and Kushans. Besides, Shakas and Kushans introduced tunic, turban and trousers and heavy long coat. Cap, helmet and boots were also introduced during this phase which facilitated the victories in war.

    Agriculture and Trade

    The agriculture was promoted by the Kushans. The archaeological traces of irrigation facilities have been discovered in parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and western Central Asia.

    The Shaka-Kushan phase saw the establishment of direct contact between India and Central Asia. The Silk Route which started from China and crossed through the empire in Central Asia and Afghanistan to Iran and Western Asia was controlled by the Kushans.

    India received gold in good number from the Altai Mountains located in Central Asia and through trade with Roman Empire.

    Impact on Polity

    The Shakas and the Kushanas propagated the idea of the divine origin of kingship. The Kushan kings were called sons of god.

    The Kushans introduced the satrap system of government in India. The whole empire was divided into several satrapies and each satrapy was governed by a satrap. The hereditary dual rule which includes two kings ruling in the same empire at the same time was introduced.

    The practice of military governorship was also introduced by the Greeks. The governors appointed by the Greeks were called Strategos. These were important to maintain the newly conquered areas.

    Impact on Religion

    The Kushan kings worshipped both the Buddha and Shiva and the images of these two gods appeared on the coins issued by the kings. The famous Greek ruler Menander adopted Buddhism.


    The Shak and Kushan princes patronized Indian art to a great extent. This caused several schools of art which are Gandhara, Mathura and Central Asian. This happened because of Indian craftsmen coming into contact with Greeks, Romans and Central Asians craftsmen.

    The influence of the Gandhara art reached to Mathura. The Mathura school of Art developed in the early centuries of Christian era and its products are made of red sandstone.


    The Sanskrit literature was patronized by foreign princes. The great writers such as Ashvaghosha were patronized by Kushans. Ashvaghosha was the author of Buddha charita and Saundarananda.

    The Indian theatre was also enriched with Greek influence since the use of curtains was introduced by the Greeks.

    Science and Technology

    Indian astrology was influenced by the Greek ideas which produced the term horashastra derived from the term horoscope.  The Greek coins were better shaped and stamped as compared with punch-marked coins then common in India. The word dramma was also derived from the Greek term drachma.

    It is possible that, Indians learnt the art of leather shoes making during this time.

    Thus the invasion and contact of central Asian princes impacted India in several spheres such as pottery, cavalry, literature, science and technology, religion and polity.


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