Aphrodite in Bagram Afghanistan & The ‘Friend of the World’ of the Flower Ornament Scripture by Stuart Dean

Stuart WordPress photo

 In the 1930s two ancient storerooms in Afghanistan near what is now the Bagram US Air Base were discovered by French archaeologists and unsealed for the first time in about two thousand years.  They contained artifacts from all over the ancient world, evidencing just how active trade then was along the complex network of routes known collectively as the Silk Road.  Among the artifacts in one of the storerooms was a plaster statuette of Aphrodite (‘Bagram Aphrodite’).

BagramAphroditeThough it is not known what the motivation originally was for acquiring the Bagram Aphrodite, its presence in Afghanistan arguably evinces an interest in female spirituality–if not in the owner of the storerooms then among some of the people in the market for which she may have been destined.  Evidence of such interest among Buddhists is to be found in the Flower Ornament Scripture (FOS), a compendium of sutras dated to approximately the same time (and possibly the same region) as the storeroom containing the Bagram Aphrodite.  Female spiritual figures, both mortal and immortal, some portrayed as having official positions, others without any, are prominent in the final chapter of the FOS, so prominent that one scholar suggests Buddhist women of the time in some way influenced its composition (see Douglas Osto, Power, Women and Wealth in Indian Mahayana Buddhism).

Continue reading “Aphrodite in Bagram Afghanistan & The ‘Friend of the World’ of the Flower Ornament Scripture by Stuart Dean”

%d bloggers like this: