Preserving Borobudur's legacy beyond bricks and mortar

24 April 2007 (Jakarta Post) – This news is related to the earlier post about the visual art exhibition on Borobudur in Jogjakarta. Here, the story also touches on the restoration work on the Buddhist monument.

Preserving Borobudur’s legacy beyond bricks and mortar

The world-famous and heritage-listed Borobudur Buddhist temple was over the weekend the subject of much discourse as experts argued around how best to preserve and maintain not just the temple building — but everything it represents, including religious expression, cultural heritage and art history.

“Long-term preservation must go further than just the recovery of the physical monument,” said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“After such a successful physical restoration, we must address the next challenges — to develop and undertake further studies and research; to restore the natural landscape around the complex; to involve surrounding communities; and to somehow balance all this with sustainable tourism.

“Only this comprehensive approach will lead to true sustainability in the long term,” he said.

Built between 750 and 850, the 40-meter high temple comprises two million huge stone blocks. The building was “lost” for many years and not rediscovered until 1814 during Dutch occupation.

The first restoration phase was conducted in the early 20th century (1905-1911) by Theo Van Erp and focused on improving drainage and structural restoration.

A second massive restoration program was then conducted by the Indonesian government between 1973 and 1983, with full support from UNESCO.

This giant effort bought together 27 countries and a range of private companies from around the world. The total cost was US$25 million.


Related Books:
The Restoration of Borobudur (World Heritage Series)
The Mysteries of Borobudur: Discover Indonesia Series by J. N. Miksic

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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