1,000-yr-old Buddhist statues restored in China

Beijing: Twelve Buddhist statues in China’s Shandong province dating back nearly 1,000 years have undergone their first renovation in 39 years.

The coloured clay statues are at the Lingyan Temple in Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong, which was built over 1,600 years ago during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

At the temple, there are 40 well-preserved ‘arhat’ (one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana) statues renowned at home and abroad, most of which were built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The Buddhist statues in different colours, shapes and with varied expressions have been renovated several times in history, with the last renovation in 1982.

During the restoration in 1982, one clay statue was found to have a human-like abdomen, with the viscera made of silk, said Wang Tingqi, deputy director of the Shandong provincial bureau of culture and tourism.

The results of protection and restoration this time were beyond expectation, said Su Bomin, deputy director of Dunhuang Research Academy. Workers used safe techniques for the restoration, including repairing some cracked paint and cleaning the dust on the statues, Su said.

Much of the damage took place due to changing temperature and humidity over a long time, Su said.