The South Asia gallery houses collections from three major cultural geographic areas: Gandhara, India and Indochina.
Gandhara is the geographical term for an area between Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. The same term denotes the Buddhist-inspired artistic production that flourished in the area between the second century BCE and the fifth century CE. In addition to the friezes from the great Butkara stupa, that was discovered in the Fifties by the excavations of the Piemonte section of IsMEO, the Gandhara section displays a series of recently purchased schist, stucco and terracotta statues.
India - This section displays artwork inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism from Kashmir, India and East Pakistan. The stonework, bronzes, pottery and paintings on cotton span a period from the second century BCE to the nineteenth century. The Indian art rooms contain reliefs and sculptures from the second century BCE to the fourteenth century CE, and include examples of Shunga, Kushana, Gupta and medieval Indian art.
Southeast Asia - Despite reflecting strong Indian influences, artwork from the area that includes Thailand, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Cambodia expresses iconographical conventions and stylistic features that are determined by the cultural history of these countries. The Southeast Asia rooms contain Thai, Cambodian and Burmese art as well as important sculptures from the Khmer period.