Sep 22 2021
Entangled Histories: The Bamiyan Buddhas—Past, P...

Entangled Histories: The Bamiyan Buddhas—Past, P...

Presented by Harvard Art Museums at Harvard Art Museums

Western scholarship has focused on the monumental sculptures in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley as Buddhas created in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. This lecture tells an alternative story based on Islamic sources from the tenth to the twentieth century, which saw these sculptures not as Buddhas but as legendary heroes representing the mythic conversion of the Bamiyan Valley to Islam. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Taliban destroyed the sculptures—as Buddhas. After the fall of the Taliban, the sculptures’ entangled histories and the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders posed challenges for the global debate on how best to memorialize the destroyed images. Now that the Taliban has again taken power, the question is: what is Bamiyan’s future?

Deborah Klimburg-Salter, University Professor of Art History, emerita, University of Vienna, Austria, and Associate, Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University

Masanori Nagaoka, Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO Office in Cambodia

This talk will take place online via Zoom. Free admission, but registration is required. To register, please complete this online form.

Please read these instructions on how to join a meeting on Zoom. For general questions, email

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.

Image: View of the sandstone cliffs on the north side of the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan, containing the niches with the Buddha images. © D. E. Klimburg-Salter, 1971.

Admission Info

Phone: 6174959400


Dates & Times

2021/09/22 - 2021/09/22

Location Info

Harvard Art Museums

32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138