Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

The Buddhas of Bamiyan (Pashto: د بامیان بوتان‎ – “de bámiyán botán”, Dari: بت های باميان – but hay-e bamiyan) were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamwam valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 km (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). Built in 507 AD, (smaller), and 554 AD, (larger) the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

The main bodies were hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs, but details were modeled in mud mixed with straw, coated with stucco. This coating, practically all of which wore away long ago, was painted to enhance the expressions of the faces, hands and folds of the robes; the larger one was painted carmine red and the smaller one was painted multiple colors.

The lower parts of the statues’ arms were constructed from the same mud-straw mix while supported on wooden armatures. It is believed that the upper parts of their faces were made from great wooden masks or casts. Rows of holes that can be seen in photographs were spaces that held wooden pegs that stabilized the outer stucco.

They were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were idols. An envoy visiting the United States in the following weeks explained that they were destroyed to protest international aid exclusively reserved for statue maintenance while Afghanistan was experiencing famine, while the Afghan Foreign Minister claimed that the destruction was merely about carrying out Islamic religious iconoclasm. International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas, which in the following years was primarily viewed as an example of the extreme religious intolerance of the Taliban. Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.

Photojournalist David Adams filmed the Buddhas before their destruction for an episode of Journeys to the Ends of the Earth, a travel series for the Travel Channel.

Outline
The Buddhas of Bamiyan (Pashto: د بامیان بوتان‎ - "de bámiyán botán", Dari: بت های باميان – but hay-e bamiyan) were two 6th century monumental statues of standing buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamwam valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 km (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). Built in 507 AD, (smaller), and 554 AD, (larger) the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

Recommended world heritage video

  1. Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang

    Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang

  2. Ryōan-ji

    Ryōan-ji

  3. Ajanta Caves

    Ajanta Caves

  1. Longmen Grottoes

    Longmen Grottoes

  2. Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

    Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

  3. Ancient City of Ping Yao

    Ancient City of Ping Yao

  1. Goa

    Goa

  2. Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

    Petroglyphic Complexes of the Mongolian Altai

  3. Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

    Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

  1. State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”

    State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”

  2. Historic City of Ayutthaya

    Historic City of Ayutthaya

  3. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

    Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

  1. Rinnō-ji

    Rinnō-ji

  2. Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

    Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

  3. Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

    Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

  1. Chitwan National Park

    Chitwan National Park

  2. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

    Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

  3. The Perisian Garden

    The Perisian Garden

  1. Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

    Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor

  2. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

  3. Rohtas Fort

    Rohtas Fort

  1. Masada

    Masada

  2. Hoi An Ancient Town

    Hoi An Ancient Town

  3. The Historic Centre of Macao

    The Historic Centre of Macao

  1. Mountain Railways of India

    Mountain Railways of India

  2. Petra

    Petra

  3. My Son Sanctuary

    My Son Sanctuary

  1. Wadi Rum Protected Area

    Wadi Rum Protected Area

  2. Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca

    Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca

  3. Borobudur Temple Compounds

    Borobudur Temple Compounds

  1. Kinkaku-ji

    Kinkaku-ji

  2. Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

    Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

  3. Fujian Tulou

    Fujian Tulou

  1. Lorentz National Park

    Lorentz National Park

  2. Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

    Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

  3. Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution

    Sites of Japan Meiji Industrial Revolution

  1. Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong

    Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong

  2. Takht-e Soleyman

    Takht-e Soleyman

  3. Strait of Malacca

    Strait of Malacca

facebook comments
Comment
To the Top