Bamiyan Buddha and Weeping Women
Rego Park, NY
In the 1880s, a colossal statue of the Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, was defaced because the Mongol features of the face offended King Abdurrahman, emir of Afghanistan. In 2001, the Taliban obliterated it in keeping with their understanding of Islamic Sharia law, which holds that religious “idols” should be destroyed. My mural expresses the sense of loss of this work of art and devotion as a casualty of war.
A weeping woman’s cries increase in size from left to right. She represents mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, aunts, and grandmothers who have lost loved ones to war. Three bombs drop in the distance.
The panel is divided into 108 rectangles: 1= Bindu (Creation, Sanskrit), 0= Shunyata (Emptiness), 8 = Ananta (Infinity). The borders are painted in traditional Afghan style. Every other rectangle is stamped with a Bodhi leaf representing the tree under which the Buddha became enlightened and spoke about the nature of impermanence.
Rikki Asher taught art in public schools for 18 years. Director of Art Education at Queens College, CUNY, muralist, and printmaker, she has painted murals since the 1980s, in the US and Central America. Her students at SUNY New Paltz addressed themes of Sojourner Truth’s life in a mural housed in the campus Library. Her most recent community mural was a project in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn with 50 artists entitled When Women Pursue Justice.