“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Will the Buddha Statue in Sanko (Zanskar) go the Bamiyaan way?

Tallest Buddha sculpture at Sanko crying for attention

Irfan Naveed (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: The tallest statues of Buddha at Bamiyan in the Hazara province of Afghanistan have been lost forever, but Jammu and Kashmir can still pride itself for having a really tall statue of Buddha carved out of a rock in Sanko in Zanskar sub-division of Ladakh region.

It is a crowned Buddha which has been carved from a high rock. It measures 25ft in length and symbolizes the ancient Buddhist art of Kashmir.

Experts say that the 7th century AD statue has been the tallest Buddha sculpture of Kashmir and may be the only of its kind found in the entire South Asia region.
“It is interesting to note that the early sculptures of Buddha found in Kashmir are very much influenced by the local art,” experts say, adding “the sculpture found at Sanko is one such sculpture which bears a strong Kashmir influence.”

The Buddha in this sculpture has been shown wearing three peaked crown which is adorned with beads of stone jewellery. This tradition was earlier cultivated in the sculpture art of the Valley, Says Iqbal Ahmed, an expert.

“These traditions later on influenced the sculpture of other countries particularly at places wherever Kashmiri craftsmen went.

However, as has been the unfortunate story of most of other archeological sites and artifacts, the Buddha’s sculpture at Sanko too is in utter neglect and experts warn that if steps for its conservation are not taken at an earliest “we too may lose this highest sculpture of Ladakh, and with it the world would lose a remnant of the type of Buddha statues we have already lost in 2001 in Bamiyaan.”

It may be mentioned here that in March 2001, the Taliban, who that time ruled Afghanistan, destroyed the two massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan with dynamite despite strong condemnation by the world and even Muslim countries.

The statues were destroyed on 8th and 9th of March, 2001 and ironically the demolition saw the beginning of Taliban fall in Afghanistan.

This crime against culture was committed while all the world’s voices were raised to prevent it. The Taliban paid no attention to the unprecedented international protests, nor of the conflicting views expressed by the highest religious authorities of Islam.