Khalchayan is located in West and Central Asia
Location of Khalchayan in Central Asia.
Khalchayan is located in South Asia
Khalchayan (South Asia)
Khalchayan is located in Uzbekistan
Khalchayan (Uzbekistan)
Khalchayan is located in Bactria
Khalchayan (Bactria)

Khalchayan (also Khaltchaïan) is an archaeological site, thought to be a small palace or a reception hall, located near the modern town of Denov in Surxondaryo Region of southern Uzbekistan. It is located in the valley of the Surkhan Darya, a northern tributary of the Oxus (modern Amu Darya).

Terracotta statues

The site is usually attributed to the early Kushans, or their ancestors the Yuezhi/Tocharians. It was excavated by Galina Pugachenkova between 1959 and 1963. The interior walls are decorated with clay sculptures and paintings dated to the mid-1st century BCE, but they are thought to represent events as early as the 2nd century BCE.[6] Various panels depict scenes of Kushan life: battles, feasts, portraits of rulers.

Some of the Khalchayan sculptural scenes are thought to depict the Kushans fighting against a Saka tribe.[7] The Yuezhis are shown with a majestic demeanour, whereas the Sakas are typically represented with side-wiskers in more or less grotesque attitudes.[7]


Portrait of a Kushan prince from Khalchayan (left), and head of a Gandhara Bodhisattava (right), said to have similar characteristics (Philadelphia Museum of Art).[9]
Medallion with Kushan king on a throne, Kalchayan, 1st century CE

According to Benjamin Rowland, the art of Kalchayan of the end of the 2nd century BCE is ultimately derived from Hellenistic art, and possibly from the art of the cities of Ai-Khanoum and Nysa, but it also has similarities with the later Art of Gandhara and may even have been at the origin of its development.[9]

Rowland particularly draws attention to the similarity of the ethnic types represented at Khalchayan and in the art of Gandhara, and also in the style of portraiture itself.[9] For example, Rowland find a great proximity between the famous head of a Yuezhi prince from Khalchayan, and the head of Gandharan Bodhisattvas, giving the example of the Gandharan head of a Bodhisattva in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[9] The similarity of the Gandhara Bodhisattva with the portrait of the Kushan ruler Heraios is also striking.[9] According to Rowland the Bactrian art of Khalchayan thus survived for several centuries through its influence in the art of Gandhara, thanks to the patronage of the Kushans.[9]


  1. ^ KHALCHAYAN – Encyclopaedia Iranica. p. Figure 1.
  2. ^ "View in real colors".
  3. ^ Abdullaev, Kazim (2007). "Nomad Migration in Central Asia (in After Alexander: Central Asia before Islam)". Proceedings of the British Academy. 133: 87–98.
  4. ^ Greek Art in Central Asia, Afghan – Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  5. ^ Also a Saka according to this source: [1]
  6. ^ "It is possible to attribute the Khalchayan reliefs to the first century BC archaeologically, but the historical events reflected in them belong to an earlier period, i.e. to around the middle of the second century BC. " Abdullaev, Kazim (2007). "Nomad Migration in Central Asia (in After Alexander: Central Asia before Islam)". Proceedings of the British Academy. 133: 91.
  7. ^ a b "The knights in chain-mail armour have analogies in the Khalchayan reliefs depicting a battle of the Yuezhi against a Saka tribe (probably the Sakaraules). Apart from the chain-mail armour worn by the heavy cavalry of the enemies of the Yuezhi, the other characteristic sign of these warriors is long side-whiskers (...) We think it is possible to identify all these grotesque personages with long side-whiskers as enemies of the Yuezhi and relate them to the Sakaraules (...) Indeed these expressive figures with side-whiskers differ greatly from the tranquil and majestic faces and poses of the Yuezhi depictions." Abdullaev, Kazim (2007). "Nomad Migration in Central Asia (in After Alexander: Central Asia before Islam)". Proceedings of the British Academy. 133: 89.
  8. ^ KHALCHAYAN – Encyclopaedia Iranica. p. Figure 1.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Rowland, Benjamin (1971). "Graeco-Bactrian Art and Gandhāra: Khalchayan and the Gandhāra Bodhisattvas". Archives of Asian Art. 25: 29–35. ISSN 0066-6637. JSTOR 20111029.


  • "Les Saces", Iaroslav Lebedynsky

Further reading

External links

  • "A Comparison of Images of Kushans from Coins and Sculpture", with images from Pugachenkova (1970) The Sculpture of Khalchayan.{dead link}
  • "Khalchayan", Encyclopædia Iranica.

Coordinates: 38°17′37″N 67°58′44″E / 38.29361°N 67.97889°E / 38.29361; 67.97889

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