Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Buddha Gets a Makeover Volume 55 Number 5, September/October 2002
by Jarrett A. Lobell

An ambitious restoration of the 1,280-year-old Great Buddha of Leshan is underway in western China's Sichuan Province. The $30-million project aims to preserve the 233-foot-high stone statue from acid rain and weathering by filling in fissures that allow water to seep into the statue, and by enlarging and strengthening the platform on which the Buddha sits.

Construction of the Great Buddha of Leshan was begun in A.D. 713, during the Tang Dynasty, under the supervision of the monk Haitong, who believed that the statue would protect travelers at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers at the foot of the statue. It was completed 90 years later and now stands (or rather sits) as the world's largest Buddha--at least 60 feet higher than the Bamiyan Buddhas, destroyed by the Taliban last year.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America