Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan: All about the significance and their destruction
Bamiyan Buddha: Why in News?
Two decades later on the anniversary of their annihilation, the Bamiyan Buddhas are being brought back to life in the form of 3D projections. It would take place at an event called “A Night With Buddha”.
Where is Bamiyan?
It is a place in Afghanistan where the largest Buddha figures were found. They were called Taller Buddha and Small Buddha. The larger statue was of 180 feet and was situated in the east.
Bamiyan Buddha: Details:
- The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th century statutes of Gautam Buddha that were carved in the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley.
- The smaller statue was called the Eastern Buddha and was 38 metres in height which was built in 570 AD.
- The larger Buddha was called the Western Buddha which was built in around 618 AD and was 55 metres in height.
- The statues consisted of a male Salsal and smaller female Shamama or the Queen mother.
What happened to the statues:
The statues were blown up and destroyed in March 2001 by Taliban on the orders from the leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Take a look at the images below to get a better understanding.
The image below shows what is left in the place now:
Significance of the statues:
- The statues were built in Roman draperies and were built in two different mudras. These Bamiyan Buddhas were one of the greatest examples of the Gupta, Sassanian and Hellenistic artistic style confluence.
- It is situated in the Hindukush mountains and marks the impact of the Gupta dynasty till there. This route was once integral to the early days of the Silk Roads, providing passage for not just merchants, but also culture, religion and language.
- It is also significant as China, India and Rome sought passage through Bamiyan. Even the Kushans were able to develop a syncretic culture in this area. Bamiyan became a major trade and religious centre during their time.
- The two structures of Buddha were also surrounded by smaller structures like stupas, smaller Buddha statues, wall paintings, caves and surrounding valleys.
Reason of Destruction:
Taliban was controlling 90 percent of Afghanistan in the 1990s and their governance was a curbed lawlessness. There were people punished using Islamic Punishments and various regressive Islamic strategies were also used like banning of TVs, ban of schooling for girls, public executions etc. The extremism levels resulted in the destruction of historic statues of Buddha.
It was on February 27, 2001, when the Taliban declared its intention to destroy the statues. It did so despite huge backlash and condemnation and protest from governments along with various cultural ambassadors across the globe.
On March 2, the destruction of the statues started with guns and artillery. When these proved ineffective, they progressed to mines and a rocket. It took almost a month to destroy the statues and it was done with a spectacle.