Friday, October 2, 2009

Kabul Museum

On one of the first weekends I was here in Kabul I visited the museum. It sits across the street from the Darulaman Palace.

The Soviets left Afghanistan in 1988. Warring Afghan factions fought for control of the city of Kabul during the 1990's and both the palace and the museum were severely bombed during that time. Looting of the artifacts not destroyed by bombs also decimated the collections.

The Taliban took over the city in 1996 and in early 2001 Mullah Omar ordered the destruction of 'all non-islamic statues and tombs considered offensive to Islam." Destroyed under that edict were the famous (and monumental) Buddha statues at Bamiyan, as well as numerous statues in the Kabul museum.

This was the first place I visited in Afghanistan where I was searched. The men with our party were patted down by the male guards. The women were directed to a curtain-draped hut where an ancient woman smiled and smiled and smiled while she looked in our bags and ran her hands round and about, searching for whatever. That wasn't much fun.

On the other hand, the gardens were beautiful.

And roses, of course.This stone reportedly came from Mecca and was carved during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, 14 centuries ago.Here's what's left of one of the trains that ran from Kabul to Darulaman in the 1920's.

(See for more info.)

And here's the entrance to the museum.

I didn't take pictures inside. Too sad. Very few exhibits and many of them (or their remains) say 'destroyed in 2001.'

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