Two years after the destruction, the Japanese National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, working through Unesco and the Afghan authorities, began putting money into clearing up the site and consolidating the surfaces of the niches. The aim at this point was to recreate the Buddhas, an immensely ambitious project since the larger of the two was taller than the Tower of Pisa.
But there were doubts from the first whether this was the right approach. There have been other proposals, from laser projections of Buddhas onto the cliff face—unrealistic in a part of the world that barely has electricity—to a plan from the University of Aachen to attach the remaining fragments to the niche wall on a metal frame—unsatisfactory because hardly any of the stone carving remains intact, the Buddhas having been hewn all in one piece out of the living rock, which was therefore reduced to rubble by the explosions.
What is more, Andrea Bruno, who knows the country intimately, having led the conservation of the fort at Herat and the minaret of Jam over many years, believes that such solutions do not take the sensibilities of the Afghans into account. Rebuilding the Buddhas would inevitably be politically loaded, he says, besides causing religious offence. “Here the Muslims strictly oppose images; to recreate the Buddhas would be an insult even to non-Taliban Afghans. We must show good manners,” he says. In fact, after ten years, the Unesco meeting on Bamiyan held in Tokyo in December 2011 announced finally that the Great Buddha would not be recreated, and the smaller Buddha was unlikely to be.
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