DEFACING ART THE ISLAMIC WAY

By Gabriel Thy • Art Theory • 6 Jul 2008


NYC street piece by Swoon before defacement. See below for links.

PRO-TALIBAN MILITANTS in Pakistan have used electric drills to chisel off the face of a massive 7th century Buddha sculpture, raising concerns that hundreds of other Gandhara-era relics located nearby could also be at risk.

The picturesque Swat Valley has become infested with Taliban militants in recent weeks as the influence of the radical Islamic movement sweeps rapidly across northwest Pakistan.

The militants have launched a bloody vice campaign that has left 47 dead, decimated the valley’s tourism industry and terrorized the local community. Locals tell ABC News authorities have made no effort to stop the spread of “Talibanization” in a normally peaceful region, often described as “Pakistan’s Switzerland.”

One Pakistani archaeologist described the Jehanabad Buddha as the second most important Gandhara monument after the Buddhas in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, which were blown up by the Taliban in 2001.

“For me at least, the Jehanabad Buddha was the most beautiful,” said Fidaullah Sehrai, a retired professor of archaeology and a leading expert in ancient Buddhist art.

Buddhism flourished in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the 7th century, and the Swat Valley is considered the birthplace of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism. In his memories, the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang described hundreds of Buddha sculptures, monasteries and stupas in the valley. Only a handful has been excavated so far.

The Jehanabad Buddha watched over a stretch of the ancient Silk Route, said Professor Sehrai, and was believed to offer protection for travelers and traders. It is the second Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in recent months.

Read it all.

Now in New York City, the same sort of art defacement is being charted by an unknown assailant who has been dubbed simply—the Splasher. Two different NYC street artists have had their works scarred recently. Two female artists, known only as Swoon and Gaia have had their work partially sprayed out or marked over in deliberate fashion. Any connection to the NYC phenomenon and the Pakistani one? Probably not, but have no fear. What the Taliban is doing in Pakistan, the keepers of the Koran have done all over the world whenever the Islamic regimes gain a modicum of power over a previous culture.

But let’s be clear here, thee is no solid evidence that the defacement has been carried out by Muslims on the prowl. But those Muslim youths who agitate in the shadows against Western targets (evidenced here and here and here) often roam in packs and attack single defenseless victims, male or female.

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: