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AFGHANISTAN'S Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan

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Author Topic: AFGHANISTAN'S Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan  (Read 3196 times)
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« on: November 09, 2008, 08:57:57 am »


The rise of Bamiyan is part of a bigger story, the Buddhist conquest of Central Asia, and that in turn was linked to the political and economic currents of that time.

Briefly, early in the first century C.E. a semi-nomadic tribe called the Kushans swept out of Bactria, overpowering the rulers of the hill-tribes and what remained of the Graeco- Bactrian kingdoms. They established a large empire that endured for three centuries and reached from the shores of the Caspian Sea deep into northern India. Among its principal cities were Kapissa, just north of Kabul, and Peshawar in Gandhara (Pakistan). The Kushans made themselves the unavoidable middlemen between China, India and Rome, and prospered on the revenues of the Silk Road. And they fostered a syncretic culture, in which tribal traditions from Central Asia fused with artistic conventions derived from the Hellenized Mediterranean and with the powerful creed of Buddhist India.

Buddhism was by this time in an expansionist mode, offering religious practices that spoke to the masses and an appealing style of illustrative art, backed by the subtle philosophy of the Mahayana

The sculptors of Gandhara had discovered ways to give concrete form to the doctrine--the deified Buddha, the incidents of his life and the boddhisattvas that complement the central figure.

Every museum of Asian art displays representative examples of Gandhara sculpture, which is popular
in the West because of its distinctly western idiom ( provincial Roman, some critics grumble, not
without reason).

The Buddha statues of Bamiyan, with their Roman draperies, belong to the Gandharan universe.
And so do the numerous stupas scattered throughout the Afghan mountains, built to house relics of
the Buddha and of later saints.

Guldara, in a remote valley southeast of Kabul, is a noteworthy example with Hellenistic features;
a more typical one is the stupa of Tope Darra, in the mountains north of the city.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2008, 09:48:11 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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