Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>150 Gandharan arakshadhikrta
Subjectarakshadhikrta infantry guard
Culture: Gandharan
Setting: Great Kushan empire, northern India/Afghanistan 2nd-3rdc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Auboyer 1965 p284
"The foot-soldiers were armed with bow and quiver, sword and shield, and sometimes a spear or dagger: apart from their main task of fighting in open terrain and entrenchments, they were also responsible for setting up camp, and provided guards for the royal treasury, the arsenal and the military storehouses."

* Alkazi 1993 p67
"Foot soldiers are said to have used six-foot bows with very long arrows, tall shields made of undressed ox hide, and broad swords three cubits long.  Some carried javelins instead of bows."

Armor / Costume

* Robinson 1967 p89
"From the first centuries A.D. we have the remarkable sculptures of Gandhara, in north-west India, where strong Hellenistic or Roman feeling dominated the arts.  The people were largely Scytho-Parthians and Kushans -- the latter, from Central Asia, who invaded the territory in about 90 B.C. and established contacts with Augustan Rome.
    ​"When represented in their sculpture, warriors wear turbans on their heads, long-sleeved tunics and full trousers tucked into ankle-boots, such as the ancient ScythiansPersians, and Parthians are always represented as wearing.  Over the tunic they wear close-fitting cuirasses carved with a trellis pattern which, at first glance, looks like a convention for imbricated pointed scales.  But as true scales are in some instances carved on the shoulder and breast area of the cuirasses, with the trellis pattern below, it obviously represents some other form of defence -- perhaps quilting.  From the shoulders and waist hang pendant straps in Greco-Roman fashion, the skirt in several layers -- as seen on the statues of Roman emperors and the gravestones of legionary officers."

​* Alkazi 1993 p66-67
"At the Gandhara site of the Kushans is a soldier of Mara's (Apollo's) army wearing the Indian antariya and turban with a Graeco-Roman style of breast-plate or coat of mail.  Coats of mail are said to have been made indigenously of metallic wires, probably iron, woven into a gauze known a jalaka.  But the soldier's coat of mail appears to be made of metal scales, attached to a backing, rather than woven wire.  This could be a foreign-influenced improvement on the indigenous equipment for soldiers.  Another soldier is seen wearing full foreign garments in the same army.  His coat of mail is worn over a short tunic which is visible at the hem and sleeves, and his bare legs are encased in greaves.  On his head is a three-cornered helmet which suggests the well-known whitish grey felt caps of the Tibetans and Khorezmians.
    "Khorez, Bactria, and Sogdiana in Central Asia, had at one time been some of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.  They were later taken over by the PersiansGreeks, and then the Kushans.  The third soldier in this army of Mara wears the purely Indian antariya and has his uttariya wound around his waist.  All three soldiers carry shields and equipment of various kinds."

* Nicolle/McBride 1996 p41 (reconstructing a Kushan warrior, 3rd century AD)
"It is interesting to note that a great many pictorial sources from early medieval India and what is now Afghanistan show clean-shaven warriors, whereas most western Sassanian soldiers sport beards or at least moustaches.  The turban was also a distinctly eastern feature at this time.  The man's armour consists of thickly quilted cotton for the body plus hardened leather scales for the arms and thighs."

* Pathak 2006 p26
"Kushan sculptures illustrate two styles of soldiers' costumes -- the indigenous group wearing the 'loincloth, waistband and scarf/turban'; and the foreign group wearing the 'helmet, armour of the Assyrian type or the shirt, dhoti, turban.'"


* Rawson 1968 p4-5 [PLAGIARIZED: Paul 1995 p28]
"It is clear that the source of the wealth of the Kushans was their command of the trade between Rome and the Far East which passed along the Central Asian desert routes and up the Indus valley. Culturally their kingdom was divided into two clearly distinct parts; Gandhara on the one hand, where Romano-Byzantine influence was powerful, and Mathura on the other hand, where indigenous traditions held the field, though Roman influences from the Indus coast and from the North-West occasionally intruded. This cultural situation is faithfully reflected in the distribution of the weapon types. For in Gandhara only Roman sword forms appear, whilst in Mathura the main types is [SIC] the Indian leaf-bladed sword, with true Roman types occasionally appearing.
  "The Romanized type of sword of the North-West is short, with a straight parallel-sided and abruptly pointed blade with a centre rib, having a hilt with a fairly small platform pommel and a guard that is little more than a band.  This sword is invariably associated with a scabbard of typical Roman form, a simple, square-ended sheath with a slot on its outer face through which the sling strap is passed.  The iron swords excavated at Taxila were nearly all of the Roman type described, and are dated by Sir John Marshall into the second century A.D.  All of them seem to have had body tangs, though the corroded condition of most of them makes it difficult to be sure.  There are occasional variations in form of minor importance among these swords; for example, on some the ring guard and the pommel plate are of a piece with the blade, on another the blade has a slight waist, whilst on another it has an unusually high rib.  This Romanized form of the straight sword persisted in Central Asia into the time of the Western Turks in the sixth century."

* Robinson 1967 p89-90
"The God of War is shown ... from a small piece of sculpture of the first or second century A.D. in the British Museum.  The straight sword, carried by the God at his left side, is similar to the spatha of the Roman auxiliary cavalry."

* Nicolle/McBride 1996 p41 (reconstructing a Kushan warrior, 3rd century AD)
"Archaeological and artistic evidence shows that short swords, comparable to those of the Arab Middle East, were common in northern India."

* Burton 1884 p216-217
"[U]pper India about the beginning of our era was mostly Buddhist, and consequently she bred men of peace.  Yet the caves and the cave-temples supply in bas-relief specimens of Sword-bearers, and even of free fights.  The weapon is mostly the short stout blade, corresponding with the Persian Acinaces, but worn in modern fashion on the left side.  Mr. James Fergusson has kindly supplied me with two illustrations.  The first is the battle-scene showing two Swords.  A huge chopper or falchion, with a tooth on the back, is wielded in the left hand, the right supporting the shield.  The other, straight with one median ridge, is broad at the end instead of being pointed.  The second, which Mr. Fergusson calls the 'first Highlander,' is of the same date, and it shows very distinctly the handle -- which might be modern -- the sheath, and the mode of wearing."


* Nikonorov 1997 v2 p23 (reconstructing Gandharan warriors)
"Many Gandharan works of art of the period under consideration show scenes from the life of Buddha, including his flight from the royal palace ... and his confrontation with the forces of evil Mara, which have provided some of the details on our foot warriors, in particular the shield with a monstrous face.  The accusation might therefore be levelled that this is really only a 'fantasy' shield but it is highly probable that such devices could still adorn the shields of actual warriors."

* Paul 1995 p99
"The Kushan sculptures at Gandhara in the north-west of the sub-continent show round shields with convex surfaces.  It is probable that these shields were of buffalo and rhinoceros hide, which became the most popular material for shields in subsequent centuries as they were strong and light."