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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 1.2 (2018): 1–13;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Arts)

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The Buddhist Caves in Western Deccan, India, between the Fifth and Sixth Centuries

Drexel University

Abstract: This article examines the dynamics that led to the renaissance of Buddhist rock-cut architecture in Western Deccan between the fifth and sixth century. This was a transformative period in India as political, economic, and religious traditions underwent important changes; from a global perspective, this was also a time of tremendous international engagement both across the Indian Ocean and the northwestern regions of the Subcontinent. The artistic and architectural evidence from caves like Ajanta and Aurangabad will be examined in a global perspective, connecting these sites to the Buddhist networks leading to the Northwest of the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia, and to renewed Indian Ocean trade.

Keywords: Deccan, Buddhist caves, trading networks, patronage, Indian Ocean


About the Author: Pia Brancaccio is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA. She earned her Ph.D. in Indian Art History and Archaeology at the Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘L’Orientale’ in Italy and collaborated for several years with the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan. She has done extensive work on Buddhist art in ancient South Asia with a special focus on Gandhara and the Deccan plateau. Dr. Brancaccio’s publications include a monograph on The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion (Brill Publishers, 2010), two edited volumes entitled Living Rock: Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Cave Temples in Western Deccan (Marg Foundation, 2013), and Gandharan Buddhism: Archaeology, Art and Text with Kurt Behrendt (UBC Press, 2006), as well as several articles in conference proceedings and academic journals (Ars Orientalis, Archives of Asian Art, East and West, and South Asian Studies).


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.