From the Khyber Pass to Balkh, along the ancient pilgrimage road, excavations
have brought to light monasteries and stupas (shrines) of the Buddhist period. The mural
paintings, stone bas-reliefs, and sculpture of such sites as Hadda, Fonduqistan, and
Bamiyan belong to the school of Gandharan art, which combined Indian and Graeco-Roman
Monuments of the Islamic centuries are found in all parts of the country,
notably at Ghazni, Qala Bist (Bust), Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Balkh. Mosques, shrines,
and minarets show a close affinity to those of Iran, featuring bright-colored fa´ence,
high pointed-arch portals, and spacious open courts surrounded by arcades.
Since the Muslim religion discouraged the representation of living forms, the
fascinating Gandharan mural paintings remained an isolated phenomenon for centuries.
Then, in the 15th century, Herat became the center of a noted school of
miniaturists headed by Bihzad (born c. 1440) and including Qasim'Ali and Nasr Allah
Abu'l-Ma'ali; their paintings were designed to illustrate poetical and historical works.
Arabic calligraphy was highly developed in the 15th and 16th centuries...