The Bamiyan Buddhas are said to date back to the 5th century AD and were once the tallest standing Buddhas in the world. Salsal and Shamama, as they were called by the locals, were set in niches on either ends of a cliff side and hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs.In March 2001, the Taliban began blowing up two monumental Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley.
In March 2001, the Taliban began blowing up two monumental Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley.
Now, two decades later, on the anniversary of the annihilation, the Bamiyan Buddhas have been brought back to life in the form of 3D projections in an event called “A Night With Buddha”.
The legacy of the Bamiyan Buddhas
In their Roman draperies and with two different mudras, the Bamiyan Buddhas were great examples of a confluence of Gupta, Sassanian and Hellenistic artistic styles. They are said to date back to the 5th century AD and were once the tallest standing Buddhas in the world. Salsal and Shamama, as they were called by the locals, rose to heights of 55 and 38 metres respectively, and were said to be male and female. Salsal means “light shines through the universe”; Shamama is “Queen Mother”. The statues were set in niches on either ends of a cliff side and hewn directly from the sandstone cliffs.
The significance of Bamiyan
Bamiyan is situated in the high mountains of the Hindu Kush in the central highlands of Afghanistan. The valley, which is set along the line of the Bamiyan River, was once integral to the early days of the Silk Roads, providing passage for not just merchants, but also culture, religion and language.
When the Buddhist Kushan Empire spread, acting as a crucible of sorts, Bamiyan became a major trade, cultural and religious centre. As China, India and Rome sought passage through Bamiyan, the Kushans were able to develop a syncretic culture
In the rapid spread of Buddhism between the 1st to 5th centuries AD, Bamiyan’s landscape reflected the faith, especially its monastic qualities. The two colossal Buddhas were only a part of several other structures, such as stupas, smaller seated and standing Buddhas, and wall paintings in caves, spread in and around surrounding valleys.
Source: Indian Express