Afghan's new gov't intends to restore giant Buddhasgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Government intends to restore Buddhas
By Knight Ridder, 12/31/2001
KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's new government plans to restore two giant sandstone Buddhas that survived centuries of Christian invaders and Muslim emperors, only to be destroyed by the Taliban in four days in March, sparking international outrage.
''Anywhere you see Afghanistan's map, you see the Buddha statues next to that,'' said Sayed M. Raheen, Afghanistan's new minister of culture and information in an interview. ''So that is a sign of our identity and a sign of our tolerance and our history. ... They need to be rebuilt.''
It will be a daunting task. Little is left of the Buddhas, carved into a spectacular cliff 17 centuries ago in what is now Afghanistan's central Bamiyan province. Two gaping spaces, like empty coffins, stare at visitors.
The Taliban bombarded the statues with tank shells, mortars, and rockets, then loaded them with explosive charges, reducing the statues to rubble.
But that's not stopping Raheen, an Afghan cultural expert who lived in Virginia for many years before taking up his current post. He said he is seeking help from Western nations and the UN.
He plans to hold a seminar ''as soon as possible'' that will focus on how to rebuild the statues.
Raheen said that a team of archeologists - led by Paul Bucherer, a Swiss museum curator - had visited Bamiyan.
In an interview last month with Britain's Sunday Telegraph, Bucherer, 58, said he had a set of precise photogrammetric measurements of the statues. He added that the Buddhas, when first built, were covered in 3 inches of bright plaster that wore away over time.
-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001