A boy from the ethnic Hazara minority stands in front of the gaping niche where a giant Buddha statue used to stand in the central town of Bamiyan, some 240 km northwest of Kabul. The Taliban destroyed two of the statues in 2001.
Archaelogists and restoration experts have reassembled and restored several statues, including the magnificiant and ancient (Bamiyan) Buddha statues, smashed by the Taliban in 2001 during their rule.
The painstakingly reassembled objects include the cross-legged, 2nd or 3rd century AD Bodhisatva Sidhartha, which has now been restablished at a place of pride at the top of the Kabul Museum’s staircase. The larger than life-size beautiful statue had been reduced to shards by Taliban fanatics.
People like veteran restorer at the museum, Abdullah Hakimzada, who has spent the past 33 years working at the museum, are proud to have collected pieces of the statues smashed by the Taliban.
Immediately after the Taliban madness, they had hurriedly sorted out the fragments and put them into sacks and boxes that later would help the re-assembly work. Hakimzada’s favourite restoration is the statue of King Kanishka of the famed Kushan Dynasty that ruled much of South Asia from its Afghan base at Kapisa near Kabul between the first and fourth centuries AD.
Afghans take pride in Kanishka, describing him as one of their greatest kings. They consider the Kushan period as a golden period of their history.
“During that time, Afghanistan was at peace, and society was very tolerant and religiously inclusive,” says Hakimzada.