Kabul Museum Receives New Guest

An ancient statue of Lord Buddha is all set to make its public debut in Afghanistan’s National Museum.
Having withstood time, the elements, looters and war, the spectacular statue of Lord Buddha restored and removed from one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions will soon find its place in a vast room at the museum. The statue, rare because its head is still intact, depicts the sage offering his hands to the heavens. It was hidden beneath layers of the slit between the third and fifth centuries, said archaeologists.
The museum authorities have already received the antique piece of artwork from members of a French archaeological delegation who found it at the Mes Aynak site (about 40km south-east of Kabul) in 2012.
Noted Italian restoration expert Ermano Carbonara said on Friday that the statue is an exceptionally well-preserved piece, as its colours are still vibrant. He thanked the French archaeologists for doing a great job, saying that it was really difficult to restore an antique piece from Taliban-infested Logar Province – one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions.
Carbonara, who restored the statue, described the finding as unique, stressing: “The statue was almost whole when it was discovered, with its head present, which is rare. It was placed in the centre of a niche, which itself had been decorated with painted flowers, in the heart of a great centre of (an area used for) prayer. It was better to remove it from the site to protect it.” He believes that the statue is made of clay that was taken from the Mes Aynak River. “The clay is particularly sensitive to moisture,” Carbonara told the media.
Meanwhile, the French delegation thanked a Chinese consortium for helping them in finding the statue. Director of the French government archaeological mission in Afghanistan (Dafa) Julio Bendezu insisted that they found the statue at the Mes Aynak site only after the Chinese team began digging a massive copper mine in Logar. The French archaeologist claimed that they also discovered an ancient monastery complex, stretching out over an area of 4sqkm, in the Afghan province.
Both Carbonara and Bendezu have admitted that it becomes increasingly difficult for archaeologists to restore antique pieces in Afghanistan mainly because of Taliban militants and their activities. In the war-ravaged country, the extremist outfit has destroyed thousands of such statues in the last 16 years. In March 2001, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar ordered the monumental Buddha statues of the Bamiyan Valley destroyed. Built in the 6th century before Islam had travelled to the central Afghan region, two Buddhas of Bamiyan were famous for their beauty, craftsmanship and size. But, the lust for looting in a country wracked by anarchy for almost 40 years has made archaeologists’ job a tough one.

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