News at Tipitaka Network
British 'Indiana Jones' finds missing legs of 900-year-old Buddhist statue
By Chris Green, The Independent, Saturday, November 7, 2009
It sounds like the plot of an Indiana Jones movie: an archaeology professor with little more to go on than a yellowing photograph discovers part of a 900-year-old statue deep in the Cambodian jungle, rewriting history in the process.
Dr Peter Sharrock, a senior teaching fellow in the art and archaeology of Southeast Asia at London's School of Oriental and African Studies, was at a conference in Cambodia in July when he decided to spend a day searching the forest around the ruins of Angkor.
His aim was to locate the missing giant legs of an eight-headed, three-metre high sandstone statue of Hevajra, the war-like, tantric Buddhist deity. The statue's intricately carved bust was excavated and salvaged in 1925 by French archaeologists, who sold it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it has been on display ever since. The rest of the statue had not been found – until now.
Armed only with photos of the excavations taken by the French 84 years ago, Dr Sharrock and his friend David Green trekked into the forest outside one of the ancient city's gates "where no tourist goes". He cannot reveal the exact location of the site due to fears of looting.
"There was no road, only a sort of animal track into the forest," he said. "It was pretty unpleasant. There were snakes all over the place, and in the back of my mind was the knowledge that the Khmer Rouge had planted land mines all over Angkor.
"We went on and on, and were about to give up, when finally I spotted something through the trees. We strode through the creepers and thorns, and I realised that I'd seen the carved square corner of the statue's pedestal. And lo and behold, there were the legs lying beside it."
Many parts of the 12th-century statue – including all 16 of its arms and one of its heads – are still missing, but Cambodia's government has now pledged to excavate the site.
Hevajra would have been venerated during the reign of Jayavarman VII, emperor of the Khmers at the height of their power, but it is likely the statue was broken up and dumped outside the city walls during a revival of Hinduism in the 14th century. This theory undermines the view that the Khmers followed a compassionate Buddhist philosophy. "It's something of a tectonic shift in archaeology", Dr Sharrock said.
Buddhist News Features:
Thursday, May 7, 2020 Vesak Extra!
Sunday, May 19, 2019 Vesak Extra!
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Vesak Extra!
Esala Poya a day significant to Sri Lankan Buddhists
Tokyo temple offers pandemic-hit Vietnamese workers a safe haven
Orders flock for Buddha prints on Bo leaves
Metfone encourages people with Buddhism education through video series
Buddha`s message highlighted in celebration of Dharma Chakra Day
Preserving Buddhist treasures in Afghanistan
Thailand marks Asalaha Bucha and Khao Pansaa this weekend
Buddhist Temple in Grafton offers calm from present storm
UN highlights Buddha`s message of solidarity and service in belated Vesak commemoration
The day Myanmar`s most esteemed foreign monk passed away
The Buddhist code of discipline for householders
Love story in a Buddhist cave: The Grottoes of Maijishan
Joseon Dynasty-era Buddhist paintings to return home from US
East Clare Buddhist centre reaches community online
Blue Lotus Buddhist Center holds Saturday retreat
How a Buddhist temple is promoting peace using origami cranes
Thailand to celebrate `Asalha Bucha` and `Buddhist Lent` in July with precautions
How `birth-tales` of Buddha spread from Thailand to the rest of Southeast Asia
Studying US Buddhist centers, researcher finds 130-year history of fellow Jews
Nalanda, ancient university opens to international students again
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.