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A monumental seated Buddha, similar in style to those at Bamiyan, still exists in the Bingling Temple caves in China's Gansu province.
The destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas became a symbol of oppression and a rallying point for the freedom of religious expression.
Another attempt to destroy the Bamiyan statues was made by the 18th century Persian king Nader Afshar, directing cannon fire at them.
The two most prominent statues were the giant standing sculptures of Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni, identified by the different mudras performed.
The Buddha popularly called "Solsol" measured 53 meters tall, and "Shahmama" 35 meters—the niches in which the figures stood are 58 and 38 meters respectively from bottom to top. Since then the Spring Temple Buddha has been built in China, and at 128 m (420 ft) it is the tallest statue in the world.
Japan and Switzerland, among others, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the statues.
Bamiyan lies on the Silk Road, which runs through the Hindu Kush mountain region, in the Bamiyan Valley.
The Silk Road has been historically a caravan route linking the markets of China with those of the Western world.