Author Topic: Rebuilding Buddha  (Read 1476 times)

Devious Viper
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Rebuilding Buddha
« on: August 07, 2006, 11:28:50 am »
Buddha statues blown up by Taleban may be put back together

Five years after the Taliban blew them up, Afghan labourers are picking up the pieces of two once-towering Buddha statues, hoping they will rise again and breathe new life into the poverty-striken Bamiyan province. While they wait for the Afghan government and the international community to decide whether to rebuild them, a $1.3 million project funded by UNESCO is sorting out the chunks of clay and plaster - ranging from boulders of several tons to fragments the size of tennis balls - and sheltering them from the elements.

The statues were chiselled into a cliff face about quarter of a mile apart more than 1,500 years ago. They were originally painted in gold and adorned with wooden faces and ornaments. Mural paintings of Buddha images covered cave rooftops flanking the niches from which the statues were hewn. Fragments of the murals are also being collected.

Rebuilding the statues, one 174ft tall and the other 115ft, will be like assembling giant jigsaw puzzles. But Bamiyan, so poor that dozens of its people live in caves, has high hopes. "We can change local people's lives from being dominated by poverty if we rebuild one of the statues," Habiba Surabi, the governor of Bamiyan province, said.

The province, on the ancient Silk Road that linked Europe to East Asia, was once a centre of Buddhism. Today, most of its 400,000 people are Hazaras, a largely Shiite Muslim group that was persecuted by the Taliban during its 1997-2001 rule. The Taliban blew up the statues in 2001, deeming them idolatrous and anti-Muslim. It was one of the regime's most widely condemned acts, and UNESCO has since put the entire Bamiyan Valley region on its World Heritage in Danger list.

Rebuilding the statues would cost about 16 million each, scientists say. "Whenever UNESCO finishes its work, we will appeal to the international community to try find the funds to rebuild at least one Buddha statue," Ms Surabi said.

Tourists still trickle in to the Bamiyan Valley, despite the continuing violence in Afghanistan, a lack of local amenities and a road from Kabul that is in such bad shape that the 80-mile journey takes nine hours.

Mohammed Abraham, who earns $5 a day working on the UNESCO project, remembers when hundreds of tourists came to marvel at the Buddha statues and buy handicrafts. "Everyone here was very happy and rich compared to now," said Abraham, who lives with his eight children in a cave, without power or water, near where the larger statue stood. "We lost everything when the Taleban destroyed the Buddha."

Mohammed Ayub, 34, said: "I hope for the Buddha to be built again. We don't have power, we don't have running water, we don't have jobs. We are living in these caves like wild animals."


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Re: Rebuilding Buddha
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2006, 01:29:43 pm »
Well, as important as the statues are I wonder if this is the right use for the money.  It might be better to first help the people with some of the basics like shelter and water.  However, the statues do have significant value and did bring in a fair deal of income.  Hard to say where to start.