Buddhas of Bamiyan

In light of the recent observation of the World Heritage Festival, the ICOMOS highlighted the Buddhas of Bamiyan as an example of heritage items destroyed for what they symbolise.

About the Monument

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were located in the Bamyan Valley of central Afghanistan. These were 2 statues of Buddha carved into a rocky cliff. These monuments dated back to the 6th century. The smaller statue (Shahmama) measured 35m high while the larger statue (Sosol) was 53m high- some of the largest examples of carved standing Buddhas in the world.

Gandhara Art

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were an example of the Gandhara style of art. It is also called Greco-Buddhist art, showing influences of the Hellenistic styles of classical Greek sculptures. It is a blend of western and eastern art forms. The style is said to have originated in Afghanistan.

Destruction in 2001

The Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban regime under its supreme leader, Mullah Omar. They were destroyed over several weeks using dynamites, anti-aircraft guns, artillery, anti-tank missiles, etc. The destruction was claimed to be part of carrying out Islamic religious iconoclasm (destruction of icons).


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