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Groups Want to Rebuild Buddha Statue
AP via Yahoo ^ | 11/20/01 | Clare Nullis

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.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: buddha

1 posted on 11/20/2001 4:20:34 PM PST by BunnySlippers
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To: BunnySlippers
After we rebuild the statue lets fix the crack in the liberty bell, and straigten the leaning tower of pisa. I am sure we could fix all of the world if we try.
2 posted on 11/20/2001 4:27:02 PM PST by TheOtherOne
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To: TheOtherOne
I agree. I tend to agree with the premise that things of a cultural heritage can't be replaced or repaired. Don't forget this is a private group (thank heavens).
3 posted on 11/20/2001 4:31:16 PM PST by BunnySlippers
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To: TheOtherOne
Actually engineers are trying to reverse some of the movement of the Tower of Pisa to stabilize it and prevent it from collapsing.
4 posted on 11/20/2001 4:34:21 PM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: TheOtherOne
I felt bad when the statues were destroyed, but the million dollars could be better used to decrease the country's high infant mortality rate, for one thing.

They should leave the destroyed monuments as they are, as a testimony to Taliban barbarism.

5 posted on 11/20/2001 4:34:27 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: Ciexyz
I vote PRO on this. It was horrifying that they would destroy 1300 year old priceless works of art. (or was it older...?)
6 posted on 11/20/2001 4:39:03 PM PST by Mr. K
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To: Paleo Conservative
Actually engineers are trying to reverse some of the movement of the Tower of Pisa to stabilize it and prevent it from collapsing.

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.

7 posted on 11/20/2001 4:43:21 PM PST by Paradox
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To: Ciexyz
They could place a new monument in place of the statues. It doesn't have to look like the old ones. A peace monument of some kind. Buddhists might like the idea.

Like the proposal to rebuild the WTC buildings but leave all floors above the 95th open, a memorial park a 1/4 mile high.

8 posted on 11/20/2001 4:46:34 PM PST by RightWhale
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To: Mr. K
Agreed. The statues were 1500 years old and $1 million is chicken-feed for the Buddhist societies to raise. It would also generate good-will. Cement work of this nature requires a small army of semi-skilled and unskilled labor which the locals would undoubtedly line up to supply. The material costs are likewise minimal and could be supplied mostly from raw materials at or near the site.

UNESCO doesn't even need to get involved. Let this be a goodwill project to Afghanistan from its Buddhist neighbors.

9 posted on 11/20/2001 4:50:01 PM PST by Vigilanteman
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To: BunnySlippers
I don't know if they should rebuild exactly either one. If the larger one was 175 feet high, maybe they should just build one new, different Buddha statue 160 feet high. You can't replace a lost treasure exactly (and you shouldn't try), but something should be rebuilt.

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.

10 posted on 11/20/2001 4:53:38 PM PST by xm177e2
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To: Paradox
I dont know if they eventually plan to straighten it out completely

It can't be straightened completely since the upper storeys were built askew to compensate for leaning that occured during construction.

11 posted on 11/20/2001 4:56:50 PM PST by RightWhale
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To: BunnySlippers
Just so the American taxpayers don't get hit with paying for it!
12 posted on 11/20/2001 5:04:53 PM PST by holyscroller
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To: Mr. K
I don't think they considered them mere works of art. They were important religiously.
13 posted on 11/20/2001 6:56:28 PM PST by technochick99
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To: TheOtherOne
I dunno. They fixed the Pieta at St. Peter's after some nut came at it with a sledge hammer. Thank god the UN wasn't strong enough to have a say... And if it's private money...
14 posted on 11/20/2001 7:03:16 PM PST by technochick99
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To: RightWhale
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).

15 posted on 11/21/2001 7:59:10 AM PST by Paradox
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