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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhas_of_Bamyan


The Buddhas of Bamyan (Persianبت های باميان - but hay-e bamiyaan) were two monumental statues of standing Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, situated 230 km (143 miles) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2500 meters (8,202 ft). Built during the sixth century, the statues represented the classic blended style of Indo-Greek 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 was worn 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.[1] 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. The rows of holes that can be seen in photographs were spaces that held wooden pegs which served to stabilize the outer stucco.

They were intentionally dynamited and destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were "idols" (which are forbidden under Sharia law). International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas and was viewed as an example of the intolerance of the Taliban and of fundamentalist Islam. Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.[2]

Contents

History

Bamyan lies on the Silk Road, a caravan route linking the markets of China with those of Western Asia. Until the eleventh century AD, Bamyan was part of the kingdom of Gandhara. It was the site of several Buddhist monasteries, and a thriving center for religion, philosophy, and Indo-Greek art. It was a Buddhist religious site from the second century up to the time of the Islamic invasion in the ninth century.

Monks at the monasteries lived as hermits in small caves carved into the side of the Bamyan cliffs. Many of these monks embellished their caves with religious statuary and elaborate, brightly-colored frescoes.

The two most prominent statues were the giant, standing Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni, measuring 55 and 37 metres (180 and 121 feet) high respectively, the largest examples of standing Buddha carvings in the world. They were perhaps the most famous cultural landmarks of the region and the site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the surrounding cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamyan Valley. The statues represented wearing Hellenic tunics, an echo of Alexander the Great's contribution to the Central Asian mix almost a millennium earlier.

The smaller of the two statues was built in AD 507, the larger in 554.[3] The statues are believed to have been built by the Kushans and Indo-Hephthalites (both eastern Indo-European peoples) at the heyday of their empires.

The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang passed through the area around AD 630 and described Bamyan as a flourishing Buddhist center "with more than ten monasteries and more than a thousand monks". He also noted that both Buddha figures were "decorated with gold and fine jewels" (Wriggins, 1995). Xuan Zang's account is intriguing as he mentions a third, even larger, reclining statue of Buddha;[1] although it is generally believed destroyed, some archaeological expeditions are searching for it.

A monumental sitting Buddha similar in style to those at Bamyan still exists in the Bingling Temple caves in China's Gansu province.

The destruction of the statues led to widespread anger in Europe and North America because, in part, it was an affront to many Westerners who believe that religious expression is a fundamental freedom. The destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas became a symbol of oppression and a rallying point. Despite the fact that Afghanis are Muslim, they too had embraced their past and many were appalled by this destruction.citation needed ]

[edit] History of attacks on the Buddhas

[edit] Eleventh century to the twentieth century

When Mahmud of Ghazni conquered Afghanistan and part of west India in the eleventh century, the Buddhas and frescoes were spared from destruction though Buddhist monasteries and other artifacts were looted or destroyed. Nader Shah fired cannon at the statues. But over the centuries the statues had largely been left untouched.

Preface to 2001, under the Taliban

In July 1999, Mullah Mohammed Omar issued a decree in favor of the preservation of the Bamyan Buddhas. Because Afghanistan's Buddhist population no longer existed, which removed the possibility of the statues being worshipped, he added: "The government considers the Bamyan statues as an example of a potential major source of income for Afghanistan from international visitors. The Taliban states that Bamyan shall not be destroyed but protected."[4]

Afghanistan's radical clerics began a campaign to crack down on "un-Islamic" segments of Afghan society. The Taliban soon banned all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Islamic law.[5]

Information and Culture Minister Qadratullah Jamal told Associated Press of a decision by 400 religious clerics from across Afghanistan declaring the Buddhist statues against the tenets of Islam. "They came out with a consensus that the statues were against Islam," said Jamal.

According to UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, a meeting of ambassadors from the 54 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was conducted. All OIC states - including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, three countries that officially recognised the Taliban government - joined the protest to spare the monuments.[6] A statement issued by the ministry of religious affairs of Taliban regime justified the destruction as being in accordance with Islamic law.[7] Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would later condemn the destruction as "savage".[8]

[edit] Dynamiting and destruction, March 2001

Photograph of a statue being destroyed with dynamite on March 21, 2001.
Photograph of a statue being destroyed with dynamite on March 21, 2001.

The statues were destroyed by dynamite over several weeks, starting in early March, carried out in different stages. Initially, the statues were fired at for several days using anti-aircraft guns and artillery. This damaged them, but did not obliterate them. Later, the Taliban placed anti-tank mines at the bottom of the niches, so that when fragments of rock broke off from artillery fire, the statues would receive additional destruction from particles that set off the mines. In the end, the Taliban lowered men down the cliff face and placed explosives into holes in the Buddhas.[9]

On March 6, 2001 The Times quoted Mullah Mohammed Omar as stating, "Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them." He had changed his position from being in favor of the statues to being against them. During a March 13 interview for Japan's Mainichi Shimbun, Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel stated that the destruction was anything but a retaliation against the international community for economic sanctions: "We are destroying the Buddha statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue".

On March 18, The New York Times reported that a Taliban envoy said the Islamic government made its decision in a rage after a foreign delegation offered money to preserve the ancient works. The report also added, however, that other reports "have said the religious leaders were debating the move for months, and ultimately decided that the statues were idolatrous and should be obliterated."[10]

Then Taliban ambassador-at-large, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, said that the destruction of the statues was carried out by the Head Council of Scholars after a single Swedish monuments expert proposed to restore the statues' heads. Hashimi is reported as saying: "When the Afghani head council asked them to provide the money to feed the children instead of fixing the statues, they refused and said, 'No, the money is just for the statues, not for the children'. Herein, they made the decision to destroy the statues". However, he did not comment on the fact that a foreign museum offered to "buy the Buddhist statues, the money from which could have been used to feed children."[11]

[edit] Aftermath of the destruction

The Islamist Taliban government decreed that the statues, which had survived for over 1,500 years, were idolatrous and un-Islamic. During the destruction, Taliban Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal lamented that, "this work of destruction is not as simple as people might think. You can't knock down the statues by shelling as both are carved into a cliff; they are firmly attached to the mountain."citation needed ] The two largest Buddhas faced dynamite and tank barrages and were demolished after almost a month of intensive bombardment.

[edit] Commitment to rebuild

Though the figures of the two large Buddhas are almost completely destroyed, their outlines and some features are still recognizable within the recesses. It is also still possible for visitors to explore the monks' caves and the passages which connect them. As part of the international effort to rebuild Afghanistan after the Taliban war, the Government of Japan and several other organizations, among them the Afghanistan Institute in Bubendorf, Switzerland, along with the ETH in Zurich, have committed themselves to rebuilding the two largest Buddhas; anastylosis is one technique being considered.

[edit] Developments since 2002

The site of the Buddhas in August 2005.
The site of the Buddhas in August 2005.

In May 2002, a mountainside sculpture of the Buddha was carved out of a mountain in Sri Lanka. It was designed to closely resemble one of the Buddhas of Bamyan.

The Afghan government has commissioned Japanese artist Hiro Yamagata to recreate the Bamyan Buddhas using fourteen laser systems to project the images of the Buddhas onto the cliff where they once stood. The laser systems will be solar and wind-powered. The project, which will cost an estimated $9 million, is currently pending UNESCO approval. If approved, the project is estimated to be completed by June 2012.

In September 2005, Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Mohammadi, Taliban governor of Bamyan province at the time of the destruction and widely seen as responsible for its occurrence, was elected to the Afghan Parliament. On January 26, 2007, he was gunned down in Kabul.

Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei made a 95-minute documentary entitled The Giant Buddhas (released in March 2006) on the statues, the international reactions to their destruction, and an overview of the controversy. The movie makes the controversial claim (quoting a local Afghan) that the destruction was ordered by Osama Bin Laden and that initially, Mullah Omar and the Afghans in Bamyan had opposed the destruction.[12]

In the summer of 2006, Afghan officials were deciding the timetable for the re-construction of the statues. The mullahswho? ] in the province have stated that the destruction was an "atrocity" and the statues deserve restoration.citation needed ] While they wait for the Afghan government and international community to decide whether to rebuild them, a $1.3 million UNESCO-funded project is sorting out the chunks of clay and plaster — ranging from boulders weighing several tons to fragments the size of tennis balls — and sheltering them from the elements.

The Buddhist remnants at Bamyan were included on the 2008 World Monuments Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund. It is hoped that the listing will put continued national and international attention on the site in order to ensure its long-term preservation, and to make certain that future restoration efforts maintain the authenticity of the site and that proper preservation practices are followed.

Tags: (Afghanistan, 2001), Bamyan, Buddhas, Destruction, Islamic, The, of, the

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Replies to This Discussion

UNESCO stops charity from re-building Bamiyan Buddhas.  

The Buddhas were a UNESCO "world heritage" site, which the world couldn't be bothered to protect.  Afghanistan (and Pakistan) should have been threatened with nuclear obliteration if the Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban.  But no, the world stood by and let them do it.

Now UNESCO won't even permit OTHER organisations to re-build them.  Probably because they know that the islamophobic Taliban will just destroy them again.

What clearer evidence is there that the UN is an agent of the OIC?

http://vladtepesblog.com/2014/02/12/unesco-stops-unauthorised-recon...

Meet the Guys Who Helped Blow Up the Famed Bamiyan Buddhas

The Taliban stunned the world by ordering the destruction of the fourth-century Afghan monuments back in 2001. But how did the whole thing actually go down? I wanted to find out

I couldn't find a discussion collecting the other modern-day destruction of ancient civilisations by muslims.

Timbuktu

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/mali...

Nineveh 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2900530/ISIS-plan-destroy-w...

Hatra

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/04/04/purported-islamic-state-vid...

Given the destruction of Nalanda, Bamiyan, Nineveh, Hatra, Timbuktu... it becomes highly plausible that the destruction of the face of the Sphinx was also by muslims.

Joe said:

Given the destruction of Nalanda, Bamiyan, Nineveh, Hatra, Timbuktu... it becomes highly plausible that the destruction of the face of the Sphinx was also by muslims.

The one-meter-wide nose on the face is missing. Examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose, one down from the bridge and one beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off towards the south. The Egyptian Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century AD, attributes the loss of the nose to iconoclasm by Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. In AD 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism. Al-Maqrīzī describes the Sphinx as the "talisman of the Nile" on which the locals believed the flood cycle depended.

http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/saudi_destru...

There seems very little Islam won't destroy.  Just a shame mecca remains.

I'd never heard this before. Thanks shiva.

I'd always believed the Sphinx's face was disfigured by a mix of Weathering and  the English doing a bit of target practise. 

The one-meter-wide nose on the face is missing. Examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose, one down from the bridge and one beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off towards the south. The Egyptian Arab historian al-Maqrīzī, writing in the 15th century AD, attributes the loss of the nose to iconoclasm by Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. In AD 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism. Al-Maqrīzī describes the Sphinx as the "talisman of the Nile" on which the locals believed the flood cycle depended.

Paul,

didn't they try to blame it on Napoleon's troops doing target practice?  Well, it has to blamed on the filthy Kuffar anyway.

This story is a little bit mixed though: the perpetrator was hung for vandalism, so it is harder for us to say it is part of the general totalitarian destruction of the Islamic state.  It is however, part of the general destruction that the drones are programmed to do whenever they get the opportunity and inclination.

Alan why blame the filthy Kuffar when u have the Juice

The Sphinx nose, after being stolen by Maimonedes, has been hidden in Israel, and was smuggled out to Temple Beth Abraham in Beverly Hills, where rich jews from all over the USA go and visit it once a year and do the hora.

Well, exactly ;-)

In a discussion with Usama Hasan, who was saying that islam protects the works of other cultures, this link was provided.

http://islamqa.info/en/20894

on the legal obligation on muslims to destroy images of other religious beliefs.

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Muslim Terrorism Count

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
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The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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