Oil painting at bamyan in afghanistan predating

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One local man, Mohammad Reza Ibrahim, is leading the efforts to entice foreigners back, and show them that his country has much to offer in areas removed from conflict.

“Bamiyan has a great potential for tourism,” he told told Roads and Kingdoms.

Fragments "The rest of the hall is elaborately decorated in a varied palette of burnt sienna, green, lapis lazuli blue, and yellow ochre depicting flowers, trees, stylised floral sprays, cornucopias and figures of kneeling worshipers," she wrote.

"A series of Buddhas dressed in sombre-hued maroon robes and framed with aureoles against an azure background walk on lotus pads set among flowers." There's little evidence of this today apart from a few scraps of colour and detail here and there, but there are isolated caves higher up the mountain, impossible to get to without a rope, where some of the best examples still survive.

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Hiking up to the ruined ramparts of Shahr-e-Gholghola - the City of Screams, which was destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century - Ibrahim stopped to catch his breath and picked up a spent bullet shell from the ground, one of many Soviet-era casings that litter the windswept trail overlooking the sandstone cliffs and snow-clad pyramids of the Hindu Kush range.

The 6th century statues survived a siege by none other than Genghis Khan in 1221.

In 2001, however, Taliban leader Mullah Omar called for their destruction after deeming the Buddhas idolatrous.

In 2012, a consultant expressed his belief that “the void is the true sculpture.” Last year, German conservationists from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) did preliminary work on the smallest niche, building two brick pillars that looked like legs, ostensibly as a stabilizing platform.

UNESCO’s response was swift and unflinching: ICOMOS’s actions, “bordering on criminal,” had caused “irreversible damage.” In an interview with the , the president of ICOMOS’s German branch, Michael Petzet, reaffirmed that the bricks were put there for safety reasons.

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