Following their destruction by the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan’s famed Buddhas of Bamiyan are reborn in luminous light.
image via youtube screen capture
For centuries, the towering Buddha statues looking out over Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley were renowned the world over for their size and beauty. Built in the 6th century, the two main figures were the largest statues of a standing Buddha on Earth, looming at 53 and 35 meters, respectively. Carved into a sheer cliff face, the Bamiyan Buddhas were an awe inspiring combination of devotional art and ingenious craftsmanship. And in 2001, they were completely destroyed.
image via (cc) flickr user jzielcke
Over the course of several weeks in March of 2001, just months before they’d be known worldwide for their connection to the events of September 11th of that year, Afghanistan’s Taliban regime destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, making good on years of threats to remove the statues from the Afghan valley. Since then, the empty cliff outcroppings where the Buddhas once stood have yielded a number of fascinating archaeological finds, including an extensive network of caves covered in centuries-old Buddhist art. But despite international interest in reconstructing the statues themselves, the extent of their demolition has, explains UNESCO, rendered efforts to rebuild the massive stone Buddhas impossible.
But while the statues themselves may never be rebuilt from stone, a team of reportedly Chinese video projectionists have done the next best thing, recreating the Bamiyan Buddhas in otherworldly light, instead.
While the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas is a profound loss for their sheer archaeological and historical significance, this recreation is, in some ways, a perfectly fitting tribute to the statue’s spiritual origins. If, as the Buddhist principal of “anicca” states, “all is impermanence,” what could exemplify that more than ephemeral lighting in a spot where once stood stone?