ARTH 211/611
(SARS 202/511)

Arts of Afghanistan and Indian Himalayas

Instructor: Professor Klimburg-Salter
M 2-5

Course Description

The three colossal Buddhas in the monumental complex in the Bamiyan valley, situated at a middle point on the International trade route between India and China, had a significant impact on the surrounding culture up to and including the time of their destruction at the beginning of the 21th century. Most surviving descriptions however come from Muslim sources. Contemporaneous Buddhist sources and other forms of primary historical information are exceedingly rare. Consequently, it has proved difficult to define the chronology, meaning and function of the enormous complex. In order to propose a model for the development of the Bamiyan complex, we will consider the chronology of the arts of the Hindu Kush within the extended cultural zone of the western Himalayan region- including north and eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir -from the period of the Graeco-Bactrians to the early Muslim dynasties, emphasising the 6th -9th centuries. In addition we will evaluate the evidence for Bamiyan derived from different sources - archaeological, literary, numismatic, and particularly art historical. We will place particular emphasis on the newest research discussing the possible influence of the art and iconography of neighbouring cultures - Turkic, Iranian, and Indian.

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Last update: November 1, 2002

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