April‐June 2010 JOURNAL OF EURASIAN STUDIES Volume II., Issue 2.
The historians divide the reign of the Kushans into three periods:
a) the Early Kushans, b) the Great Kushans and c) the Later Kushans. In the nineties of the last century
archaeologists found the so called Rabatak Inscription in Afghanistan. The explanation of this epigraph
gave an approximate answer to the much debated dating and relationship of the Kushan rulers. 15
According to the explanation, the son of Kujula Kadphises was Vima Taktu ‐ the great conqueror of the
Punjab and of the north‐western part of India; Vima Taktu’s son was Vima Kadphises – he also conquered
further territories in India – and his son was Kanishka I: the Great Kanishka (about 110 – 134 A.D.). He was
the most famous and most talented Kushan king, who extended his empire to the East.
The father of Kujula Kadphises was most probably Heraios, the last king of the Indo‐Greek Principality,
but he called himself Kushan Sanab on his coins. One of the best Kushan researchers, the Englishman
Robert Bracey, considers this name a title, not a personal name. Its meaning is Lord or Great Lord. 16
Kanishka I was followed by his elder son: Vasishka (about 134 – 140 A.D.) who died as a young man;
his younger brother, Huvishka succeeded him on the throne. He ruled for a long time (140 – 172 A.D.) and
added more territories to his father’s kingdom. Kanishka’s, Vasishka’s and Huvishka’s names are typical
Kushan names, neither Iranian nor Indian, but their successor’s name, Vasudeva, is already an Indian one;
we don’t know whether he was a son or relative of Huvishka. He ruled after him (176 – 210 A.D.). There
was a short gap between the two rulers. Vasudeva still kept his huge empire. It included the following
territories: from the Oxus valley in the North to the banks of the Ganges in India in the South, from East
Iran in the West to Bihar state, in India in the East, but even the famous Hotan (now in Xinjiang in China)
in the East and the well‐known ancient country, Khorezm in the West became tributary states of the
Kushans. As a part of the large commercial route, the Silk Road passed through the Kushan territory; they
controlled it and could collect customs duties and taxes. These incomes made their kingdom prosperous.
Their well‐known, beautiful gold coins prove their richness. On the obverse of the coins appear the
images of kings with Bactrian inscriptions in Greek characters. On the reverse appear the images of either
Greek, Persian or Hindu gods; later the symbols of Buddhism, such as the Wheel of Religion or the Dharma
Chakra. The images of the kings are shown in Central Asian costume, a belted broadcloth tunic, felt boots
and a large sword. They intended to demonstrate, even in their attire, that they were different from the
The Sassanians, another Scythian people, envied the advantage the Kushans had by controlling the Silk
Road. First they fought against the Parthians and, later, in 234 A.D. Ardashir I and his son, Shapur I,
defeated the Kushans in the western part of their kingdom and the Sassanians occupied Bactria and
Eastern Iran. 17 The Later Kushan kings: Kanishka II, Kanishka III, Vasudeva II, Saka and Kipunada, fought
15 Nicholas Sims‐Williams – Joe Cribb: “A New Bactrian Inscription of Kanishka the Great” in “Silk Road Art and Archeology”,
No.4. 1995. pp.75‐142.
16 Robert Bracey: “Kushan History” in Wikipedia, 2007.
17 Aradi, Éva: ibid. pp.88‐89.
© Copyright Mikes International 2001‐2010 48