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December 13, 2018

2000-year-old Buddha statue sent to Switzerland for exhibition


December 13, 2018

Islamabad : Pakistan has loaned a 2,000-year-old Buddha sculpture from Peshawar Museum to Switzerland for exhibition at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich. This is the first time that this sculpture has been sent out of Pakistan.

Titled ‘Buddha Shakyamuni,’ the over three and a half meters high and almost two tons heavy sculpture will be the main highlight at the ‘Next Stop Nirvana - Approaches to Buddhism’ exhibit in Zurich from December 12, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

Estimated to have been created between the 1st and 3rd century, the sculpture was excavated in 1909-10 from a small village named Sahri Bahlol near the World Heritage site of Takht-i-Bhai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has been on exhibition in Peshawar Museum since. Smaller objects from that era have been sent out of Pakistan for exhibition but this is the first time that a statue of this size has gone out of the country.

The Buddha sculpture is a prime example of the fusion between Indian and Greek art. It represents a unique work not only due to its size but also its quality, because it has survived the time almost without damage.

In 2017, the Embassy of Switzerland and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation initiated contacts between Rietberg Museum and the government of Pakistan, resulting in signing of a Memorandum of Understanding under which the Peshawar Museum agreed to lend this monumental Buddha for three and a half months. Deputy Director and Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at Rietberg Museum Dr. Johannes Beltz and stone conservation and restoration expert Tobiaz Hotz came to Pakistan last month to oversee the safe dismantling and packing of the statue in Peshawar.

“It strengthens the ties between Pakistan and Switzerland in a completely unconventional way,” said Daniel Valenghi, Deputy Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of Switzerland. “It also show that Pakistan has a very diverse cultural heritage, and for us this is a very important step for the development of Pakistan.” Next year, Switzerland and Pakistan are going to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

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