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Culture

Rebuilding Buddha

Two Swiss men have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate to the world that cultural heritage sites cannot be erased through senseless acts of violence.

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The 53 meter tall Buddha was destroyed in April

Two German-speaking Swiss men, Paul Bucherer-Dietschi and Bernard Weber, have established a consortium which plans to rebuild one of two obliterated Buddha statues in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley. The 1800 year old statues were destroyed amidst a whirlwind of publicity in April this year by the Taliban.

Standing stoically in the heart of the Bamiyan Valley, some 160 kilometers North-West of Kabul, Afghanistan, the Buddha statues had been witness to almost 2000 years of the modern world's history. They impressively survived unworldly seismic activity, befriended Father Time and shrugged-off Mother Nature.

The Taliban

They remained standing even when the Taliban used the area around their feet as an ammunition dumping ground, defying their enemies to open fire on them and blow-up what was once, a world cultural heritage site.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan according to the sacred and ancient Islamic law, the Sharia. This harsh religious testament vehemently opposes the practice of idolatry. The iconoclastic Taliban, expressly forbids the worship of anyone other than Allah. Neither do they allow human or animal depictions of their God.

In April, they made a statement to the world by blowing-up the 53 and 38 meter tall statues that were described as the crucial link between eastern and western cultures.

The consortium

The consortium comprises a team of art historians and scientists and is headed up by Paul Bucherer-Dietschi, the director of the Afghanistan Institute and Museum in Bubendorf near Zürich. He is joined by co-chairman Bernard Weber, the founder of the heritage internet society. The team is hoping to work with Afghan craftsmen to recreate the bigger of the two statues.

The reconstruction process will begin in cyberspace where an exact three dimensional replica of the original statue will be created. A 1:10 scale model of the Buddha, approximately 6 meters (20 feet) high, will be built at the Afghanistan Institute & Museum in Switzerland.

This process will allow the team to study the materials and construction techniques that will need to be undertaken in the war-ridden country. The consortium will make preparations for the third and final stage of rebuilding the full size Buddha on location in Afghanistan, as soon as circumstances permit.

"This project will send a clear signal that in future an act of intentional destruction cannot erase the memory of those things which are valuable to humanity and its heritage," said Bernard Weber, Founder of New 7 Wonders Society & Foundation.

Fundraising

Fundraising for the first two phases will be coordinated through the New 7 Wonders Foundation’s web site. The organisation also aims to raise cultural heritage awareness worldwide by voting for the modern world’s Seven World Wonders.

WWW links