Afghan Bamiyan Buddha

Two giant statutes of Buddha were destroyed in 2001. This was done by the Afghan Taliban who were not tolerant to the Shiite Muslims of the Bamiyan region. Read our guide for more facts and information…

The Bamiyan Buddhas were two enormous statutes of the Buddha carved into a mountain side. One of them was 160 feet tall while the other was 114 feet tall. The carvings dated back to the seventh century and were thought to have been done by Buddhist monks.

There were many caves running throughout the mountain on which the carvings were made. By the 1990’s these caves had become home to the Hazara people of the Bamiyan region of Afghanistan. These people were living there in order to escape the civil war that was raging in Afghanistan.

Persecution by the Taliban

After taking power in the early 1990’s as a result of the civil war, the Taliban immediately began persecution of everyone that did not hold to their own strict religious beliefs. Of special interest to them were the Hazara people.

The Taliban practiced the Sunni Muslim faith. They did not look upon the Shiites as being true Muslims. The Hazara people were Shiites, and even worse they let their women take part in the government, military and other traditional male pursuits. The Hazara, as far as the Taliban were concerned, needed to be eliminated.

Destruction of the Statutes

In 1994, the Taliban started their persecution. They began an all out attack on the Hazarans. During one attack at the base of the statutes a Taliban commander fired grenades into the smaller carving, completely demolishing its upper half.

Since the Hazarans were living in the caves of the mountain where the statues were, bombing of the top part of the mountain was a normal and everyday occurrence. The statues soon started cracking. World religious leaders, even Sunni leaders from other countries begged the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar to cease the bombing so as to preserve the statutes. This was to no avail.

Omar declared that the statutes were idols to a false god and as such were an insult to the Sunni Muslim faith. In February of 2001, the Mullah ordered that the statutes be completely destroyed. This was all it took. By the following March, the Bamiyan Buddha statutes were nothing more than rubble. Over 1500 years of history had been destroyed with the Mullah’s order

Post Taliban

The Taliban was driven out of Afghanistan by the United States in 2002. In September of 2008, another statute of a reclining Buddha was unearthed in the same vicinity of the destroyed Buddhas. This statue is not nearly as well preserved as the other two were, but it remains a tribute to the Buddhist religion.

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