& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
Hopes High for
Rebuilding Buddha Statues
12 August 2006
(CAIS) -- Five years after the
Taliban blew them up, laborers are now picking up the
pieces of two once-towering Buddha statues, hoping they
will rise again and breathe new life into this dirt-poor
province, according to AP News.
While they wait for the Afghan government and
international community to decide whether to rebuild them,
a US $1.3 million UNESCO-funded project is sorting out the
chunks of clay and plaster--ranging from boulders weighing
several tons to fragments the size of tennis balls--and
sheltering them from the elements.
Progress is slow in the central highland town of Bamiyan
where the statues were chiseled more than 1,500 years ago
into a cliff face about quarter of a mile apart.
Rebuilding the statues, one 174 feet tall and the other
115 feet, will be like assembling giant jigsaw puzzles.
The town of Bamiyan, so poor that dozens of its people
live in caves, has high hopes.
“We can change the local people’s lives from being
dominated by poverty if we rebuild one of the Buddha
statues,“ said Habiba Surabi, governor of Bamiyan
province. She is Afghanistan’s first female governor.
The province, on the ancient Silk Road that linked Europe
to East Asia, was once a center of Buddhism. Today most of
its 400,000 people are Hazaras, a largely Shiite Muslim
ethnic group that was persecuted by the Taliban during its
The Taliban dynamited the Buddha statues in March 2001. It
was one of the regime’s most widely condemned acts.
UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, has
since placed the entire Bamiyan Valley region on its World
Heritage in Danger list.
“Our job is to safeguard the pieces left from the Buddha
statues and put the fragments in a shelter,“ said Ernst
Blochinger, a German expert with the International Council
on Monuments and Sites. The Paris-based group is working
with UNESCO on the project, which began in 2004 and is due
for completion in 14 months.
“Whenever UNESCO finishes its work, we will appeal to
the international community to try find the funds to
rebuild at least one Buddha statue,“ said Surabi, the