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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 16:11 GMT
Swiss comeback for Bamiyan Buddhas
One of the original Bamiyan buddhas shortly before it was blown up by the Taleban
The statues were destroyed despite international fury
Swiss experts are planning a project to rebuild the historic Bamiyan Buddhas which were blown up by the Taleban in Afghanistan.

The 1,800-year-old statues, which were carved into a cliff face in the Bamiyan Valley, were destroyed after the Taleban declared them idolatrous.

The Swiss project will first involve building a scale model of the Buddhas in museum grounds near Zurich, one tenth of the original size.

Then organisers hope they can work alongside Afghan craftsmen to rebuild the statues at their original site - and to their original giant sizes, 53 and 35 metres (yards) high.

We want to prove that even wilful destruction cannot bring oblivion to that which mankind holds dear

Project member Bernard Weber
A team of international art historians and scientists is being formed to work on the project, using ancient and modern resources in their efforts to form completely accurate replicas.

Crucial measurements of the Buddhas were taken in the 1970s by a professor from Austria's Graz University, Robert Kostka.

They would be used to create computerised 3D representations of the Buddhas, which would be made available on the internet.

But ancient records are also expected to be used.

Statue in bamiyan
Arab and Chinese writings from centuries ago will be studied
Some descriptions of the Buddhas date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, written by Chinese and Arab travellers.

An appeal for 1m to fund the project has been launched in Switzerland by the two key organisers, Paul Bucherer, who runs an Afghan museum in Bubendorf near Zurich, and Bernard Weber, who runs internet site

"We want to prove that even wilful destruction cannot bring oblivion to that which mankind holds dear," said Mr Weber, saying the Buddhas were unique in their significance.

Chinese stonemasons have already begun work on their own recreation of the Buddhas, in the western province of Sichuan. More than 300 craftsmen are working on carving a replica from sandstone cliffs.

"The Bamiyan Buddhas have been the main tourist attraction in Afghanistan"
See also:

13 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bamiyan destroyed by Taleban
05 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Buddha rises again
25 Mar 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka to 'build' Bamiyan Buddhas
12 Mar 01 | South Asia
Outcry as Buddhas are destroyed
02 Mar 01 | South Asia
UN warns Taleban over Buddha statues
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