South Asia

This section includes both Hindu and Buddhist art.

Hinduism has very ancient roots but began to assume its mature form only in the fourth century C.E. The most characteristic features of mature Hinduism are the worship of divine images and the construction of temples to house these images. Hinduism has a vast pantheon of male and female deities but pre-eminent among them are Shiva and Vishnu.

Buddhism was established in the fifth century B.C.E. by the Buddha or "enlightened one." However it was not until the third century B.C.E. that Buddhism enjoyed royal patronage under the Mauryan kings—notably Ashoka—and spread to all parts of the subcontinent. Buddhism continued to flourish in subsequent centuries, reaching South East Asia in the fifth century C.E. and Tibet in the seventh.

Archaeologists discovered treasures from Afghanistan's nomadic ancestors but then had to hide them to keep them safe. Learn more about this remarkable story of the survival and discovery of treasures from this ancient land.