When the snow melts, have a got a project for you!
Back in 630 AD, a Chinese pilgrim, Xuan Zang, wrote in his diary about a visit he made to Bamiyan in central Afghanistan:
"There is a stone image of a standing Buddha carved into the mountainside northeast of the palace. Shining in gold, and adorned with jewelry, the statue stands about 45 metres tall. To the east of the temple, stands another statue of a 30-metre-tall Buddha made with brass."
Photo taken of Buddhas, 1835, long after Xuan Zang saw them. He had neglected to take pictures.
Xuan Zang was describing the Bamiyan Buddhas which had been carved directly from the surrounding sandstone cliffs. They were actually 55 and 38 metres tall, but we're gonna let that slide. The Bamiyan Buddhas were among the most impressive Buddhist monuments in western Asia before their demolition by the Taliban in March 2001.
The Buddhas before the Taliban blew them up.
No one knows exactly when they were constructed, but it was likely they were erected sometime in the 4th or 5th century AD. For many centuries they stood sentinel to groups of wandering monks and merchants along the famous "silk road" from Rome to China. Alongside the Buddhas, monasteries once existed here as places of sanctuary, but were abandoned in the 9th century as Islam displaced Buddhism in Afghanistan.
What is more interesting to me about this, since we can’t go back and erase what the stupid Taliban have done, is that there may be one more Bamiyan Buddha they didn’t get their grubby hands on.
Xuan Zang wrote:
"Inside a Buddhist temple located about 10 kilometres from the palace, there is a statue of Buddha in a state of passing into nirvana. The image of the supine Buddha is as long as 300 metres."
In case your metrics are as shaky as mine are, that's about 1,000 feet long. Reclining Buddhas remain a common feature of Buddhist temples around the world but this one would have been extraordinarily long, the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower placed on its side. It's shoulder would have been about 25 metres high.
To put things into perspective.
So how could you misplace such a monumental structure? How did the Buddha disappear underground and could it be salvageable if it still exists?
Professor Zemaryalai Tarzi says the statue may have been deliberately buried by devotees centuries ago to protect it from invading Muslim armies or it could have been covered after a major earthquake.
The largest reclining Buddha is 418 meters long and resides in China.
A somewhat better view.
Impressive and a little larger than our missing Buddha, this Buddha is only a few years old.
So should you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands, you might want to get out your excavation tools and get to work. Too bad Daron can't help you in your quest. That child can find anything, a necessary talent for one so disorganized.
A prime example of this amazing phenomenon is the recent ‘Mystery of the Disappearing Volleyball Uniform Top”, seen in this picture.
After months of asking Daron about the whereabouts of one of her two school volleyball uniform tops and getting the answers, “I don’t know”, “I have no idea”, and my personal favorite, “It’s somewhere in my room….”, we received an emergency email from the HEAD COACH at her school. Desperate measures were in order.
“It’s truly a miracle,” Daron said, “I reached my hand into the back of my closet, behind all of the clothes, felt around along the floor……and there it was”. Surprise, surprise.
This was after Mom’s statement, “You will go to your room, you will find the jersey, you will not leave the room until it is found, you will not eat another meal until it is found”.
You get my drift.