is situated north of the Kabul River between 34° OS'
and 34° 32' North and 71 (> 49' and 72° 24'
East in the heart of Gandhara about 64 km from Peshawar
and was a great centre of Mahayana Buddhism. Most of the
important Gandharan sites (Takht Bhai, Jamal Garhi, Sahri
Bahlol and Shahbaz Garhi are located in this District.
A great volume of the Gandharan collection in the Peshawar,
Mardan, Lahore and Karachi museums come from the sites
located in the Mardan region. The discovery and excavation
of the Sanghao Cave in District Mardan by Dr. A.H Dani
in 1963 pushed the history of mankind in NWFP as back
as 40,000 years ago. King Asoka (3rd century Be) inscribed
the creed of Buddhism on the rocks at Shahbaz Garhi, Mardan,
and popularized the religion of peace and tranquility.
But it was during the time of Scythoparthians (1st century
Be) and Kushanas (Istcentury AD) that the real expansion
of Buddhism took place and a new era was ushered in. Hundred
of stupas and monasteries were erected for the propagation
of the law of Dhamma. Chinese and Korean travelers and
pilgrims, who came here, recorded the existence of these
sites. Survey conducted by the Directorate in the Mardan
District brought to light over 400 sites, including stupas
and monasteries reminding us of the great glory of ancient
Gandhara. The Gandharan sites of Takht Bhai (which is
on the World Heritage list), Sahri Bahlol, Jamal Garhi,
Thareli, Kashmir Smast and Asoka Rock.
at Shahbazgarhi are all located in Mardan District.
The idea to open a museum in the Mardan region emanated
from the fertile mind of Sahibzada Riaz Noor the than
commissioner Mardan Division who took a practical step
in this regard he established the Mardan Museum in the
Town Hall Mardan in 1990.
Peshawar Museum provided 137 antiquities to start the
display work. While some others were recovered from
the law enforcement agencies and through excavations
at the sites of Safiabad, Hund, Katlang, Rustam and
Baja and were displayed in the main hall, measuring
50 x 22 square feet was completed in April 1991. Peshawar
Museum donated 22 showcases for the display. With the
establishment of the Directorate of NWFP in 1992 Mardan
Museum came under its administrative control.
Mardan Museum has a total collection of 413 artifacts
including 258 Gandharan sculptures, 127 coins of Kushan,
Later Kushan, Kushano-Sassanin and Hindu Shahi dynasties,
6 terracotta animal figurines 5 mercury containers,
10 household objects and 13 agricultural tools. The
subject matter of the Gandharan schist stone sculptures
in the Mardan Museum are the queen Maya dream, the birth
of Siddhartha, bathing scene, the great departure, the
first sermon at Sarnath, the conversion of Kasyapa offering
to Buddha, distribution of the relics, worship of the
wheel of law, stupa and alms bowl, Buddha with worshippers
and monks, the wheel of law pose (Dharma charka mudra),
seated under arches in meditation pose (Dhayana mudra)
Corinthian, Persepolitan and Asokan capitals, broken
architectural pilasters, harmika, dome, yQshthi, chatras
or umbrellas, spacers, floral and geometrical decorative
elements from votive and large stupas, broken pedestals
with Buddha and Bodhisattava feet, broken hands in different
postures, figures of sheep, lion, horse, peacock, Ichthyocentaurs
and a seated figure of Ardoksho. The stucco sculptures
include a seated Buddha in meditation pose (Dhayana
mudra), head of Buddha, Bodhisattva and common folk.
Though, the collection of the Museum has excavated
antiquities from Safiabad in Mardan and Hund in Swabi,
confiscated antiquities from Katlang, Rustam and Baja
and some donated objects make up the present collection
of Mardan Museum.