Will destroyed Buddha statue be reconstructed?
March 2nd, 2011
08:12 AM ET

Will destroyed Buddha statue be reconstructed?

The giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, once painted in bright colors, remained silent sentinels as they reacquired the hues of the sandstone cliffs from which they were carved.

The statues, which looked upon a visually stunning region of central Afghanistan for about 1,500 years, have been gone for 10 years, victims of the Taliban, who destroyed them as part of its campaign to destroy pre-Islamic artifacts considered an assault on the faith.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday will begin three days of meetings in Paris about a long-range plan for preserving the snow-capped valley's cultural heritage and the remains of the Buddhas, which overlooked a Buddhist monastery.

"They were destroyed in the context of the conflict devastating Afghanistan and to undermine the power of culture as a cohesive force for the Afghan people," said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement Monday.

A German professor believes reconstructing the smaller figure is possible.

UNESCO, which is nearing the completion of an effort to preserve the Buddha niches in Bamiyan and wall paintings, does not favor rebuilding the figures.

But it does want to protect the 5,000 fragments of what were once among the world's great artistic and religious treasures.

Today, the massive caves where the Buddhas once stood are huge, empty pockets carved into cliffs that dominate the countryside. The recovered pieces - many the size of large boulders, others as tiny as pebbles - are stored in several shelters.

The smaller female Buddha stood around 10 or 11 stories tall.

Professor Erwin Emmerling of the Technical University of Munich, Germany, said reconstruction of the female Buddha is possible, using remaining parts and other materials, according to the university's website. It would not necessarily resemble the ancient statue.

The scientist said the work would require a small factory to be built in the Bamiyan Valley. Otherwise, 1,400 rocks, some weighing 2 tons, would have to be sent to Germany.

Emmerling will present his findings at the UNESCO conference.

The Afghanistan government will have the final decision on any such steps.

The statues survived the ravages of Mongolian conqueror and warrior Genghis Khan, centuries of wars and the natural wear and tear of the elements. In March 2001, Taliban militants, using explosives and tank fire, spent weeks blowing up the two colossal figures. One was 55 meters (180 feet) high, the other 38 meters (125 feet).

The Technical University analyzed fragments of the statues and determined they were once painted in brilliant shades of blue, pink, orange and red. They had been repainted several times, possibly because of fading, Emmerling said.

In 2003, with the support of the governments of France, Britain, Italy and Japan, work was begun on restoring the destroyed artifacts. UNESCO that same year placed the cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley on its World Heritage List and List in Danger.

"The site testifies to the region's rich Gandhara school of Buddhist art that, during the 1st to 13th centuries, integrated different cultural influences from East and West," according to UNESCO.

- CNN's Ivan Watson and Peter Bergen contributed to this report

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Filed under: Life and Culture
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. bob

    NOT COOL!

    March 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Barbara T.

    Use the money and volunteers to take care of the wounded and the hungry children first that should be the priority at this time. If they put up another statue it will most likely be removed within months. Buddha could care less for the image of himself, it is what is in our hearts and how we live love and compassion in the world that matters most.
    Religious wars get us nowhere.

    March 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Linush

    It looks like a penguin – why don't they go with that? A giant Buddhist penguin would be better than another fat guy. We've got enough of those already.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Erken Rezervasyon Tatil

    Erken Rezervasyon avantajlarından faydalanmak istiyorum.

    March 5, 2011 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dindy..

    Buddha was a peaceful Man and a preacher. why any one did destroy his statue while many other politicians or leaders statues are on earth.?

    March 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Buddah did not make any statues. He was peacefull, but his followers were not always so.

      March 4, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy

        SALERNO....Amen to this post!!! Buddha ..did not make statues....

        March 6, 2011 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
    • AlexanderTheGreat

      Oh, come on! Loose the ridiculous and annoying parentheses and just say what you mean. The silly-ass "code" you think you need is off-putting and pointless. When I see the () I just skip your comments. Grow up and start communicating like an adult, already.

      Now, watch him (code) speak again! I know he won't pay attention.

      March 4, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dan from Chicago, IL

    YOU SHALL KNOW!

    March 3, 2011 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. salerno

    Dan – this is your opinion. For the JEWIS JESUS WAS A FALSE PROPHET.

    March 3, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dan from Chicago, IL

    Also Mohammad was not a prophet, but THE false prophet! The last prophet was Zechariah as I told you.

    March 3, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. salerno

    They both followed the truth, but with different laws, as they adapted the law to present condition of life.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sabir H

    The Buddha of Bamiyan should be reconstruct, I would love to see Giant buddha of Bamiyan alive,

    March 3, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. salerno

    Dan – you lack understanding. Every prophet adapts the law to his time's conditions. Both Jesus and Mohammed did so.
    But nobody tell that Jesus imposed the same law of Mohammed.

    March 3, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. World Heritages

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    March 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • AlexanderTheGreat

      Huh?

      March 2, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AlexanderTheGreat

    And of course, there are other, bigger issues than have been spoken of (and I use the term loosely) here.

    1) Why is preserving a World Heritage site a problem?
    2) The Afghani government will make the final decision anyway.
    3) Most of the posts here veer off in odd tangents that have nothing to do with preserving a cultural heritage or appreciation of art.
    4) At least someone is wanting to BUILD, create, and preserve rather than kill, destroy, and desecrate. Why is that bad?

    March 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Alexander-
      I posted my opinion about the best way to preserve the site and it is the same that UNESCO has proposed.
      I have nothing to add.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Chicago, IL

      It is not a matter of art preservation, it is a matter of religious freedom which Islam does not promote and extremists even kill to extract!!

      March 3, 2011 at 7:47 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        It is not a matter of religious freedom but just a matter of art preservation, because the images has no significance from a Buddhist point of view, and there are no Buddhists in Afghanistan.

        March 3, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Are you telling me that the Taliban destroyed these Buddha artifacts because of the art and not their religious beliefs?

        March 3, 2011 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        NO

        March 3, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Nobody but the Muslims fighting claimed the war against the USSR as a Holy war and NATO is not an occupying force. Jesus is not a prophet neither is Mohammad and you cannot tell me one prophecy that he has made that has come to pass. Also if Islam believes that all of mankind should be considered as one then why do they not stop these Islamic extremists who blow themselves up with as many other people as they can and have declared war on the US. They do not believe in freedom and democracy, but strict sharia law and punishments which is against the way of God's way of love, forgiveness, and repentance for the sinner.

        March 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Dan – you must take more medicine for your old brain.

        March 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        Well tell me what truth did Mohammad ever tell beforehand? I think it's all a pack of lies. Can you give me any proof that he was a prophet?

        March 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AlexanderTheGreat

    Nope. If he can't make better sense than this he looses all credibility. If the collective you DO have a strong position it pays to elucidate it correctly and with CLARITY. He (and you) lose on all counts. To be unable to defend a position means you loose the debate.

    Oh, I forgot. In islamic circles logic has no place, but emotion and rant always carry the day. My bad.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. salerno

    Sometimes it is difficoult to understand Yacobi, but when you understand is right.

    March 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  16. salerno

    Bangash is correct to define precisely part of my statement.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  17. neil pharr

    Buddhism and Isam could not save Afganistgan. Why not replace the statue with a Jedi Warior?

    March 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesusbejesus

      lol or maybe jesus will save them?

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  18. BANGASH

    Taliban during their rule in Afghanistan were under the influence of OSAMA and USA therefore destruction of this Bddha statue was aimed at putting Muslim civilization in confrontation with the Budhist civilization which in the past had no history of hostility with Islam or Muslims. So it was the result of grand conspiracy wherein Taliban have been used to defame Islam otherwise Afghanistan is a Muslim country since centuries but no one had done so to this historic statue.

    March 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • MoHam

      It is not taliban. It is Islam. Pure & Evil Islam.
      Hope the world wake up from its deep sleep and see things as they are!

      March 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan from Chicago, IL

        You are correct MoHam, Islam is a religion made up by the false prophet spoken of in revelation. There are many Muslims that do not fully follow the so called spirit of truth which calls for jihad for every Muslim and the death or conversion of every infidel, but I would not say that Islam alone is evil just some of the teachings of the false prophet who will pay dearly for turning many away from the Holy Spirit which is only found through the faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

        March 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesusbejesus

      "Taliban, who destroyed them as part of its campaign to destroy pre-Islamic artifacts considered an assault on the faith."

      Intersting that we hear this kind of lkanguage from the American Taliban (Christian Conservatives) somebody is always assualting their belief aka power

      March 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • AlexanderTheGreat

      One thing for certain that that taliban is or was NOT is "under the influence of USA." Good luck with that one....

      March 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  19. salerno

    Many precisations are necessary.
    1 – The UNESCO project is better than the german professor's about reconstruction, as it would be never like the original and
    more costly. Better to use the money for the Afghan people.
    2- Statues were not very significant form of art and could be scarefull for the children.
    3- Buddhism was spread through violence, so it is not a good idea to put the statues again in place, if the afghan people
    don't want to see them.
    4-From a religious point of view ( a Buddhist one) the images of Buddha are not really important as they started to be painted 2-3 centuries after Buddah's death. So they should be considered expression of a deviated etherodoxic form of Buddhism.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Chicago, IL

      AND YOU SALERNO ARE A RACIST!

      March 2, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
      • Dindy

        Guys....ARON WAS THE FIRST PRIEST...THEN THE LAST HIGH PRIEST IS JESUS. KEEP JESUS IN YOUR MIND. OR LOOK AFTER YOUR MIND (IN SIDE OF YOU) THEN GOD WILL LOOK AFTER OUT SIDE THINGS.WHAT IS AROUND YOU. GOD GAVE WISDOM TO OTHERS TO MAKE CLOTHES FOR ARON. SO GAVE THEM WISDOM. IF THE HIGH PRIEST IS IN OUR MIND THE SAME GOD WILL COMMAND OTHERS AND GIVE WISDOM TO FULFILL OUR NEEDS. WHAT WE NEED THESE DAYS IS PEACE. SO FILL INSIDE WITH THE NAME "JESUS" WHO SHED BLOOD TO MAKE US FREE FROM SIN.

        March 6, 2011 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
    • AlexanderTheGreat

      You need help........

      March 2, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan from Chicago, IL

      You guys are doing a good job yourselves, killing your brothers and sisters which Jesus had foretold would happen.

      March 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dindy

      WHEN THE HIGH PRIEST JESUS IS IN OUR MIND GOD WILL GIVE WISDOM TO OTHERS TO PROVIDE OUR NEEDS. (PEACE AND PROSPERITY) LOOK AFTER INSIDE THEN GOD WILL LOOK AFTER OUTSIDE.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
    • mark

      look whos talking about crimes lol a jew, your the last person on earth to talk about criminals, you people killed jesus and now killing the us with your wars, you people are the reason for all the problems in the world, so leave buddha alone

      March 10, 2011 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
    • mark

      all religions were spread by violence, read and study history u ignorant salami, there is no god, you and people like you are just gonna die like roaches,keep hoping for heaven and peaceful place it aint gonna happen.
      all religions are old stories for ignorant people that lived in caves and had nothing, science is our god.

      March 10, 2011 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |