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Japanese Researchers Discovered a Sasanian Mural in Bamiyan' Buddhist Cave


26 July 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- Japanese researchers said Tuesday they found a seventh-century painting of a mythological Iranian bird in Bamiyan ruins, in former Iranian province of Kabulistan (in what is today known as Afghanistan).

According to AFP, the team unearthed an image of what appears to be a Simorgh, the giant and powerful bird that figures prominently in ancient Iran.

The faded painting emerged after Japanese researchers removed soot from a Buddhist cave in Bamiyan.

“This is the first time a vivid image of this creature was confirmed“ in Bamiyan, an expert involved in the project at Japan’s National Research Institute for Cultural Properties told AFP.

“This image shows that Iranian myth and Persian views were reflected in Bamiyan Buddhism. It indicates the influence of people from Sogd, the areas north of Afghanistan which covers what are now modern states of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,“ he said.

However, the Japanese team called for more research, saying that some believe the image could instead be a Griffin from Greek mythology. Alexander II, the Macedonian warlord conquered that part of the Persian Empire in the fourth century BCE.

The picture portrays the creature with an eagle’s head, wings and a lion’s torso of gold, silver, blue and red facing off with a bull. Inside the same cave, researchers also found a design of a boar and a lion facing each other. Boar's head in pre-Zoroastrian-Iranian traditions, represents an incarnation of the god of war and victory, Verethraghna, and in Zoroastrian religion is an iconographic symbol of divinity of strength and valor.


“Fragments of similar images have been found in other caves and areas. But this is the first time we see so many pictures of animals in one place,“ said the researcher, who did not want his name used for the group project.

The Japanese team employed a special chemical to remove the soot without harming the mural in June and July. It also used the project to train Afghan workers.

Japanese researchers have spearheaded the drive to preserve what is left of Bamiyan. The Western' backed Taliban regime, ignoring international protests, dynamited two 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan in March 2001, branding them as un-Islamic.






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