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Exhibition puts spotlight on Afghanistan’s Buddhist heritage site

Masajeng Rahmiasri
Masajeng Rahmiasri

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, December 9, 2016 | 09:36 am
Exhibition puts spotlight on Afghanistan’s Buddhist heritage site

A man checks out a display at the Crossroad of Cultures: Bamiyan and Borobudur exhibition. (JP/Masajeng Rahmiasri)

An exhibition that focuses on two United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-designated cultural sites, namely the Borobudur temple in Magelang, Central Java and the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan, is being held at the National Museum in Jakarta until Dec. 28.

Arief Rachman, the executive chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, said during the Crossroad of Cultures: Bamiyan and Borobudur exhibition’s opening ceremony on Thursday, “Hopefully we could share our concerns for cultural development and have more appreciation toward historical culture and archaeological sites."

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Ambassador to Indonesia Roya Rahmani said, "It's our responsibility not only to protect and promote such heritage sites, but also educate our youth about the value and relevance of these sites. We must also encourage them to take an interest and uphold the values which these sites carry, such as cultural diversity."

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Roya also mentioned how cultural heritage sites were prone to looting, as well as natural and manmade destruction. She suggested that an international law criminalizing the destruction of world heritage sites and historical treasures should be created to tackle these issues.

Similar to how Borobudur embodies Buddhist culture in Indonesia, Bamiyan Valley is also rich with the historical information of the religion in Afghanistan, as two gigantic Buddha statues, which are said to reach 55 and 38 meters, used to remain on the site. The statues are currently being reconstructed after being destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban.

The exhibition is part of an ongoing UNESCO project that promotes intercultural dialogue or museum developments, in collaboration with Indonesia and Afghanistan governments.  

Prior to the event, workshops for Indonesian and Afghanistan museum curators were held between 2015 and 2016.

The exhibition will continue at the Galleria shopping mall Yogyakarta on Jan. 10 to 16 and Karmawibangga Museum in Magelang, Central Java from Jan. 20 to Feb. 2, 2017. (kes)