The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

India and Southeast Asia

What happened to the Colossal Buddha at Bamiyan?

While the Colossal Buddha at Bamiyan once rose nearly two hundred feet in a specially carved niche in the side of a mountain in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan, it, along with another massive (though slightly smaller) sculpture, were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Originally constructed between the second and fifth centuries, the style of the monumental work was influenced by the many cultures of the region, including China and India, and was once brightly painted with layers of paint and lime plaster, which resulted in a semi-transparent look influenced by the Gupta style. The Colossal Buddha was not the only Buddhist sculpture destroyed by the Taliban; almost all Buddhist art in the nearby region was targeted, a controversial example of iconoclastic action.


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