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4-7th Centuries in Bamiyan

by Mohammad Reza Sharifi last modified Aug 14, 2012 11:47 PM

-->4-7th Centuries. Bamiyan seen by Xuan Zang

The name “Bamiyan” first appeared in historical records around the late 4th Century. The first detailed description of the region did not appear until around the year 630, when a Chinese monk named Xuan Zang visited Bamiyan for about 15 days, on his way to India. In his travel records, Da Tang Xi Yu Ji, he mentions the kingdom “is situated in midst of the Snowy Mountain. The people inhabit towns either in the mountains or the valleys, according to the cumstances. The description reveals that the people of Bamiyan probably lived in caves dug into the cliffs. Xuan Zang also mentioned that the Bamiyan kingdom “produces wheat, and few flowers or fruits”. It is suitable for cattle, and affords pasture for many sheep and horses. “Thus, by the seventh century, the landscape of Bamiyan consisted of thousands of caves dug into the Great Cliff and large fields in the flat land below.

Two statues of Buddha were also reported in detail in Xuan Zang’s, Da Tang Xi Yu Ji. He noted that the west Buddha’s “golden hues sparkle on every side, and its precious ornaments dazzle the eyes by their brightness.” This indicates that the statues of Buddha were lavishly decorated. Furthermore, Xuan Zang’s description mentions that there were 50 to 60 Buddhist temples with several thousand monks. When he visited Bamiyan in early seventh century, Bamiyan was at its peak as a Buddhist religious center, with the statues of Buddha and numerous cave temples.

Xuan Zang also writes that “the people remain faithful to the three treasures (Buddha, Law and Priesthood) at the top, down to various gods, and respect them most sincerely,” which suggests that different religious besides Buddhism were also practiced in Bamiyan. When Xuan Zang visited Bamiyan , the area was very prosperous as a transportation cross road, connecting many different of Afghanistan and beyond.

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