Bamiyan Buddhas ‘once had an intensely colorful appearance’

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Bamiyan Buddhas-blown up by the Taliban 10 years ago-once had an intensely colorful appearance, scientists have suggested.

The two gigantic Buddha statues dating back to the 6th century looked out over the Bamiyan Valley on the Silk Road formed the centerpiece of one of the world’s largest Buddhist monastic complexes.

Since the suppression of the Taliban regime, European and Japanese experts, working on behalf of UNESCO and coordinated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), have been endeavoring to secure the remains and restore access to the statues.

Their findings not only contribute to our understanding of this world cultural heritage site, they may also enable the recovered parts to be reassembled:

Coloration: “The Buddhas once had an intensely colorful appearance,” said Erwin Emmerling. His team discovered that prior to the conversion of the region to Islam, the statues were overpainted several times, presumably because the colors had faded. The outer robes, or sangati, were painted dark blue on the inside and pink, and later bright orange, on top. In a further phase, the larger Buddha was painted red and the smaller white, while the interior of the robes was repainted in a paler blue.

The graphic reconstruction undertaken by the TUM researchers confirms ancient traditions: sources as far back as the 11th century speak of one red Buddha and one moon-white. The other parts of the figures may possibly have had a white priming coat, but that can no longer be proven beyond doubt.onstruction technique: The statues themselves were hewn out of the cliff; however, the flowing garments were formed by craftsmen using clay, which was applied in two or three layers. The remains display an astonishing degree of artistic skill.

“The surfaces are perfectly smooth - of a quality otherwise only found in fired materials such as porcelain,” said Emmerling.

In addition, the TUM conservators are also working on a 3D model of the cliff face that shows all of the pieces in their former position. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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