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Buddha statue reveals its true face to the world
September 11, 2007After months of excavation, a 1,300-year-old giant stone statue of Buddha revealed its perfectly preserved face yesterday in a mountainous area of Gyeongju, the capital city of Korea’s ancient Silla Kingdom.
The 5.6-meter (18-feet) tall sculpture was discovered in May, face down and buried in the ground.
“It was miracle that the Buddha’s face was saved by only five centimeters,” Venerable Jigwan, administrative head of the Jogye Order, Korea’s largest Buddhist group, said yesterday.
The Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, a regional research center under the Cultural Heritage Administration, made the excavation site public to journalists yesterday. Senior members of the Buddhist community were also invited. So far, the statue’s face, chest and shoulders have been excavated; it faces down at a 45-degree angle.
The research institute said the statue’s stone foundation apparently collapsed shortly after its completion, estimated to be in the late 8th century. The carved front was buried in the soil, protecting it from being worn away.
The standing relief of the Buddha statue is sculpted from granite. The Buddha’s head was sculpted relatively larger than actual proportions; experts said the technique was meant to consider viewers’ perspectives when looking up from the ground.
“We hope to move the statute to its original position, but it is not an easy task to move a 70-ton stone piece,” said You Hong-june, chief of the Cultural Heritage Administration.
The Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage plans to turn the statue faceup by the end of this year. Expanding the narrow roads in Mount Nam will be the next step, but the institute said it still has to come up with a method to erect the statute.
By Kwon Keun-young JoongAng Ilbo/ Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]