Skip to comments.Groups Want to Rebuild Buddha Statue
Posted on 11/20/2001 4:20:33 PM PST by BunnySlippers
Tuesday November 20 4:04 PM ET
Groups Want to Rebuild Buddha Statue
By CLARE NULLIS, Associated Press Writer
GENEVA (AP) - The Taliban's destruction of two ancient Buddha statues shocked the world. Now there's a plan to rebuild the larger one.
The plan is the work of an Internet-based group called the New 7 Wonders Society and a U.N.-recognized institute in Switzerland dedicated to preserving Afghan cultural treasures.
The desire is to show that ``an act of international destruction cannot erase the memory of those things which are valuable to humanity and its heritage,'' said Bernard Weber, the founder of New 7 Wonders.
However, the plan was given a lukewarm reception Tuesday by the U.N. agency responsible for safeguarding the world's cultural heritage, the Paris-based Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO.
Christian Manhart, an Asia heritage expert at UNESCO, said an international agreement - the Venice charter - forbids the reconstruction of monuments that have been destroyed.
The charter is based on the belief that something that is cultural heritage can't be replaced.
Manhart said UNESCO would consider an exception to the rule, but very strict criteria would need to be met.
``No private institute or Internet firm or even international organization like UNESCO can just decide. The beginning of all this has to be a request from the Afghan government,'' he told The Associated Press.
The process would likely take years, he said.
He said financing would not necessarily be a problem because Buddhist societies in Asia might be willing to participate.
The plan estimates the 175-foot statue will cost an estimated $1 million to rebuild.
First, a virtual Buddha would be generated, using high-tech photographic and computer technology. Then a 20-foot replica would be built at the Afghanistan Institute and Museum in the northern Swiss town of Bubendorf. The replica would be used as the model for rebuilding the full-size Buddha on location in Afghanistan.
The original Buddha statue, and a smaller one of 114 feet, were chiseled into a cliff more than 1,500 years ago in the central Bamiyan Valley on the ancient Silk Route linking Europe and Central Asia. The fundamentalist Taliban considered them ``idolatrous'' and against the tenets of Islam and blew them up despite an international outcry.
A spokesman in Geneva for Afghanistan's Northern Alliance said the plan was interesting. But he said it lay solely within the competence of UNESCO and not with private organizations.
``And at the moment, we have far more other pressing priorities,'' Humayun Tandar added.
The Afghanistan Institute, which enjoys financial support from both the Swiss government and UNESCO, is widely known as the Afghan museum in exile. Since the Taliban came to power, it has served as a home for many religious and cultural treasures sent out of Afghanistan to escape the wrath of the Taliban.
The director, Paul Bucherer, has long said the artifacts will be returned once the political situation stabilizes in Afghanistan. He was traveling and could not be reached for comment Tuesday, an assistant said.
The New 7 Wonders Society was set up to designate new wonders to supplement the surviving ancient wonders like the pyramids of Egypt. It says it has received 5.5 million votes from countries around the world as people make their choice on a list that includes the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
They should leave the destroyed monuments as they are, as a testimony to Taliban barbarism.
They have actually succeeded in stopping it from incurring any further lean, and have now actually reversed, to a small extent, the lean. I dont know if they eventually plan to straighten it out completely, I believe they are going to let it remain at a certain degree of lean.
Like the proposal to rebuild the WTC buildings but leave all floors above the 95th open, a memorial park a 1/4 mile high.
UNESCO doesn't even need to get involved. Let this be a goodwill project to Afghanistan from its Buddhist neighbors.
I think the same thing should happen with the WTC, three to four 60-story towers should be built, nothing so majestic as before, however.
It can't be straightened completely since the upper storeys were built askew to compensate for leaning that occured during construction.
What do you know, just last night on one of the Discovery channels (Discovery-Science I think) they had a program about the project to save the tower.. very interesting. You are right, they dont intend to(nor could they) straighten it out completely, They'll leave it leaning, just a bit less than it has been the last several decades. They want to keep it at a "safe" lean, one where they can allow visitors to the interior. They are, basically, slowly sucking out dirt from underneath the "high" side, allowing the ground to settle down and thus righting the structure (a bit).