November 21, 2006

Document Points to Origin of Bamiyan Statues

Philip Ryan

A sutra was unearthed from one of the Buddhas of Bamiyan destroyed by the Taliban (and according to Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei, Osama Bin Laden) in 2001, according to Taiwan's China Post. The document, discovered by a German team, contains markings that may indicate a sponsor of the Buddhas' construction. (The city and monasteries in the Bamiyan valley were wiped out by Genghis Khan, according to a tendentious account of Afghan Buddhism.) Similar documents have been found inside Japanese Buddhas, but this is the first recorded instance of one being found inside an Afghan Buddha. Because of the relative scarcity of documents dealing with Buddhism in Afghanistan, this should be a boon to scholars -- and all thanks to the Taliban?

Philip Ryan, Webmaster

UPDATE: See The New York Times piece on the possible restoration of the statues, and Tricycle's news piece on the same topic from August.

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