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.This coating, practically all of which wore away long ago, was painted to enhance the expressions of the faces, hands and folds of the robes; the larger one was painted carmine red and the smaller one was painted multiple colors.

"They came out with a consensus that the statues were against Islam," said Jamal.

According to UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, a meeting of ambassadors from the 54 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was conducted.

The Taliban soon banned all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.

Information and Culture Minister Qadratullah Jamal told Associated Press of a decision by 400 religious clerics from across Afghanistan declaring the Buddhist statues against the tenets of Islam.

Monks at the monasteries lived as hermits in small caves carved into the side of the Bamiyan cliffs.

Most of these monks embellished their caves with religious statuary and elaborate, brightly colored frescoes.An envoy visiting the United States in the following weeks explained that they were destroyed to protest international aid exclusively reserved for statue maintenance while Afghanistan was experiencing famine, while the Afghan Foreign Minister claimed that the destruction was merely about carrying out Islamic religious iconoclasm.International opinion strongly condemned the destruction of the Buddhas, which in the following years was primarily viewed as an example of the extreme religious intolerance of the Taliban.The Silk Road has been historically a caravan route linking the markets of China with those of the Western world.It was the site of several Buddhist monasteries, and a thriving center for religion, philosophy, and art.It is believed that the upper parts of their faces were made from great wooden masks or casts.