Afghanistan Culture

By | September 10, 2021

Evidence of urban culture (Afghan art), such as Mundigak near Kandahar, existed on the soil of what is now Afghanistan as early as the Bronze Age. Above all in Bactria on the upper and middle Oxus (Amudarja), rich cities blossomed in pre-Christian times, in which Persian, Greek or Hellenistic and Indian influences crossed, as can be seen in the ruins of Ai Khanum. The long-distance trade route of the Silk Road , which also touched Bactria, promoted cultural exchange between East and Near East (Central Asian art).

In the 2nd / 3rd In the 2nd century AD, the north and east of the country became a center of Buddhism with numerous temples and monasteries. The high point of this era were the sculptures, statues and wall paintings of Gandhara art , among others in Hadda , Fondukistan and Bamiyan with the colossal Albuddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. From the 11th century, the influence of Islamic art became dominant, both with large sacred buildings such as in Mazar-e Sharif and Heratas well as in miniature painting, calligraphy and a rich handicraft, especially silver jewelry, wood carvings, carpets and textiles.

With the unification of the state in the 18th century, a national literature in the languages Pashto and Dari (Afghan literature) developed, which was mainly based on Persian models. The most important form was the poetry (including Ghazel), which was handed down orally and in handwriting until the middle of the 19th century. Since the early 20th century, works of European and American literature have inspired domestic prose, which found its preferred form in short stories.

The traditional one or more voices Afghan music makes use of the instruments, including long-necked lute (rabab), drums (dohol), timpani (tabla) and wind instruments, as well as melodies from the Iranian and Indian cultures (raga). Singers and composers from the Charabat district in Kabul have particularly developed the music of the Sufi brotherhoods. Music was banned under the radical Islamic Taliban (1997 / 98–2001).

As in other Central Asian countries, Buzkaschi is a national sport. In this equestrian game, a dead goat must be brought to the finish against the attacks of the opposing team. Football is also popular. Visit for Afghanistan overview.

World Heritage Sites in Afghanistan

  • Minaret and Ruins of Jam (2002)
  • Cultural landscape and archaeological sites of the Bamiyan Valley (2003)

Minaret and Ruins of Jam (World Heritage)

The minaret from the 12th century, also known as the »Victory Tower«, is 65 m and is the second highest in the world after the Indian Qutb-un-din minar. It rises on the bank of the Hari Rud River about 5 km north of Jam. The minaret is decorated with a blue inscription and reliefs. The World Heritage, which has been on the Red List since it was named, includes historical and archaeological sites nearby such as a Jewish cemetery and the ruins of a fortress and castle.

Minaret and Ruins of Jam: Facts

Official title: Minaret and ruins of Jam
Cultural monument: Second highest minaret in the world, also known as the »Siegesturm«; 65 m high, built in 1194; richly decorated with brick reliefs, stucco and an inscription made of blue ceramic; surrounded by historically and archaeologically valuable monuments, including a Jewish cemetery, ruins of three watchtowers, castle, fortress walls, oriental bazaar; Classified as World Heritage in Danger in 2002
Continent: Asia
Country: Afghanistan
Location: Jam
Appointment: 2002
Meaning: Outstanding example of Islamic architecture in this region and its spread; extraordinary testimony of the Ghurid culture in the 12th / 13th centuries Century

Bamiyan Valley (World Heritage)

The two in the 6th / 7th The Buddhas of Bamian, chiseled out of the rocky slope in the 18th century, were the largest standing Buddha statues in the world at 53 and 36 m. Its deliberate destruction by the Taliban in March 2001 caused horror around the world. Empty rock niches today remind of the violent destruction of valuable cultural assets. In the Bamiyan Valley on the historic Silk Road, Asian and Western cultural influences once met and mixed. The world heritage has been on the red list since it was named.

Bamiyan Valley: facts

Official title: Cultural landscape and archaeological sites of the Bamiyan Valley
Cultural monument: Remains of the two largest standing Buddha statues in the world (53 and 38 m; 5th and 6th centuries); Niches of statues and hundreds of cult and dwelling caves with fresco paintings on clay plaster in Indian-Iranian style; numerous Buddhist monasteries and shrines; Islamic fortifications; with the appointment also classified as world heritage in danger
Continent: Asia
Country: Afghanistan
Location: Bamiyan Valley, about 200 km northwest of Kabul
Appointment: 2003
Meaning: Exceptional testimony to the connection between Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Hellenistic cultures; Memorial to the violent destruction of the site by the Taliban in March 2001

Bamiyan Valley (World Heritage)