The many proposed recreations of the destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas

On 26 February 2001, the leader of the Taliban ruling party, Mullah Mohammed Omar, issued an edict calling for the destruction of “all statues of non- Islamic shrines located in the different parts of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. Within five days the Taliban said it had destroyed two-thirds of the country’s statues, including the Bamiyan Valley’s colossal Buddhas. To mark the tenth anniversary of the razing of the ancient Buddhas, Unesco will host a forum, “Towards Reconcil iation”, on 2 March to sum up its efforts to safeguard the site over the past ten years, and “open a new chapter” in its activities in Afghanistan.

Unesco has worked in conjunction with the Afghan government, the provincial authorities of Bamiyan and international heritage organisations to preserve the site since 2003 when Bamiyan was added simultaneously to Unesco’s World Heritage List and List in Danger. Phases I and II of the conservation measures, completed in 2004 and 2008 respectively, included stabilising and consolidating the cliffs and the two Buddhas’ niches, conserving and documenting the Buddhas’ fragments, safeguarding the remains of Buddhist mural paintings along the cliff, developing a cultural master plan, guarding the site from looters and providing management and conservation training for Afghans.


Emily Sharpe
The Art Newspaper