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Destroyed Buddha Statues Are Coming Back to Life in Afghanistan as Beautiful 3D Projections

3D light projections recreate a pair of statues destroyed by the Taliban

smithsonian.com

It’s been 14 years since the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan — two enormous statues dating from the sixth century. Now, Huffington Post’s Nick Robins-Early reports, two documentarians have brought the destroyed statues back to life with a 3D light projection that recreates them in their former glory.

In 2001, the Taliban’s destruction of the statues became a powerful symbol of shameless destruction, prompting worldwide outrage and prompting UNESCO to put the former site of the statues on its List of World Heritage in Danger. When militants reduced the Buddhas to rubble, only the statues’ enormous cutouts remained in the face of the cliff where the Buddhas had stood for centuries.

Those empty spaces were recently filled by Chinese documentarians Janson Yu and Liyan Hu, writes Robins-Early. With permission from UNESCO and the Afghan government, they created 3D projections of the statues and debuted their work at the site of the lost art.

Letting the projection project move forward was a rare moment of agreement in the modern-day history of the lost statues. According to NPR’s Renee Montagne, experts estimate that reconstructing the Buddhas will cost $30 million apiece, but The Guardian’s Frédéric Bobin reports that reconstruction has yet to move forward due to ongoing arguments about how (and whether) to tackle the project. Perhaps Yu and Hu’s projections will be the only way to see the Buddhas in all their gigantic splendor anytime soon.

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