The Buddhas of Bamiyan by Llewelyn Morgan
The story of two Afghan sculptures, destroyed after a millennium and a half
Writing in The Guardian on 18 May, Samanth Subramanian reviews the book, The Buddhas of Bamiyan by Llewelyn Morgan. A new title in the Wonders Of The World series, the book looks at the remarkable statues of the Buddha which were carved in Afghanistan during the 6th century and completely destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Samanth Subramanian writes –

The Buddhas had stood for a millennium and a half; the smaller figure, 38m tall, was built around AD550, and the larger – at 55m only a little shorter than London’s Monument – around AD615. In The Buddhas of Bamiyan, Llewelyn Morgan, a lecturer in classics at Oxford University, explores not so much the heartbreaking demise of the statues as their remarkably long lives. How and why did the Buddhas survive more than a dozen centuries of an Islamic Afghanistan, only to meet their end at a particular political moment in 2001? The final downfall of these sculptures – their arms already snapped off, their surfaces pitted by erosion and minor vandalism – represented the nadir of a long and complex process of civilisation. In the plangent words of the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, perhaps the Buddhas could take no more: “Even a statue can be ashamed of witnessing all this violence and harshness happening to these innocent people and, therefore, collapse.”

Full article here. See also Emma Graham-Harrison’s article in The Guardian here and our earlier feature here.