China restores 800-year-old Buddhist statue

Beijing, June 13 (IANS) Chinese authorities have completed restoration of a famous 800-year-old Buddha statue after seven years.

Visitors now can see a new appearance of the “Qianshou Guanyin”, a statue with 1,000 hands, in Dazu county, in Chongqing municipality, Xinhua reported.

The restoration programme began in 2008 and about 60 million yuan ($9.8 million) was spent in the process.

Workers restored 830 hands and 227 instruments, using one million gold foils, and thoroughly cleaning it.

It is the largest restoration project on the statue, which underwent repairs at least four times in history.

The project is expected to help the Qianshou Guanyin keep glowing for at least 50 years, said Zhan Changfa, a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, who is in charge of the project.

The statue, 7.7 metres high and 12.5 metres wide, was carved during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279). It is a masterpiece among thousands of individual rock carvings in Dazu. The carvings date back as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They were listed as major World Heritage sites by Unesco in 1999.

Over the centuries, the sculpture’s colour had faded, some of the gold foils peeled off and cracks appeared.

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