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Saturday, December 18, 2010

War stalls rebuilding of Buddhas in Afghanistan


 


12:03 PM CST on Monday, November 22, 2010

Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan – It's been nearly 10 years since the Taliban destroyed Bamiyan's towering Buddhas. With Afghanistan convulsed again by war, rebuilding isn't even on the agenda.
No one knows how much it would cost to restore the work of craftsmen who've been dead for more than 1,500 years, and "nobody's ready to pay," said Hamza Youssefi, of Afghanistan's Historical Monuments Department.
Ignoring global pleas, the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas – a 118-foot-tall female figure and a 174-foot-tall male – in March 2001, first trying mortar and artillery, then succeeding with dynamite, claiming them to be an affront to their conservative Islamic faith. Some say they hoped to find gold in the statues' bellies.
The Buddhas of Bamiyan haven't been forgotten. Under the auspices of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, European and Japanese archaeologists have stabilized the cliff face, which was damaged in the explosion; surveyed the honeycomb of caves; and preserved pieces of the original statues.
They've discovered previously unknown oil paintings in the complex and a stupa, or Buddhist shrine, at the base of the cliff, said Habiba Surabi, the governor of Bamiyan province.
Large fragments are tightly wrapped in yellow plastic at the mountain's base. Scaffolding fills the main chamber, like the skeleton of a Buddha. But with Afghanistan's war and poverty, finishing the work isn't a job for today.
Warren P. Strobel,
link to source: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/world/stories/DN-buddhas_22int.ART.State.Edition1.15bf5bd.html

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