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The BBC's Fiona Werge
"Teams of workers took 90 years to carve the Buddha"
 real 56k

Monday, 2 April, 2001, 22:05 GMT 23:05 UK
China's giant Buddha gets makeover
Buddha statue covered in scaffolding
Buddha statue under wraps during clean-up
China has launched a major renovation of the world's largest Buddha statue, in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The sitting Buddha, just outside the city of Leshan, is carved into a river bluff.

At 72 metres high, the statue is 18 metres taller than the biggest Buddha destroyed by the Taleban authorities at Bamiyan in Afghanistan last month.

Chinese worker fills in cracks on Buddha statue
Repair work is already under way

Carving of the Leshan Buddha dates back to the Tang dynasty. Work started on the statue in 713 AD and was completed in 803.

The body of the Buddha has a hidden water drainage system to prevent erosion. Repair work will be undertaken on the drainage system as well as the exterior of the figure.

The current renovation project will cost an estimated $30m, with $2m in World Bank loans.

The statue was included on the United Nations World Cultural Heritage list in 1996.


The Buddha statue will stand forever, through concerted protective efforts by all the Chinese people

Mayor Huang
Leshan Mayor Huang Mingquan said the city government would take measures to improve the air and water quality in the area where the Buddha statue is located. Acid rain is a key factor in the damage to the carving.

"The Buddha statue, which represents ancient China's high sculpturing standard, will stand forever in Leshan City, through concerted protective efforts by all the Chinese people," Huang said.

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See also:

02 Apr 01 | South Asia
Buddha rubble 'up for sale'
26 Mar 01 | South Asia
Reporters see wrecked Buddhas
25 Mar 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka to 'build' Bamiyan Buddhas
16 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
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