PESHAWAR: The 2,000 years old statue of Buddha that had been put on display at an exhibition in Switzerland has been returned to the Peshawar Museum after around three months, an official said on Sunday.
Nawazuddin, spokesperson for Directorate of Archeology and Museum, said that the statue was out of Peshawar Museum for around 100 days. The 365 cm high and 46 cm wide statue was displayed at an international exhibition for the first time, he added.
Estimated to have been created between the 1st and 3rd century, the Buddha statue was discovered in 1909 in Seri Bahlol village in Mardan district and has been on display at the Peshawar Museum since 1911. Seri Bahlol is a world heritage site located about 70 km northwest of Peshawar.
The statue was insured for $20 million before it was loaned for display at the exhibition at Rietberg Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. Titled ‘Buddha Shakyamuni,’ the 1500 kg heavy sculpture was the main highlight at the ‘Next Stop Nirvana – Approaches to Buddhism’ exhibition in Zurich.
The Embassy of Switzerland and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation initiated contacts between Rietberg Museum and the government of Pakistan, resulting in signing of a memorandum of understanding under which the Peshawar Museum agreed to lend the status of Buddha for displaying it at the exhibition.
“The Buddha Shakyamuni has returned well home @PeshawarMuseum, Pakistan! We would like to thank everyone involved who made this colossal project possible! Many thanks to @PeshawarMuseum @EDA_DFAE @GovernmentofKhyberPakhtunkhwa @GovernmentofPakistan
@emirates,” the Museum Rietberg tweeted on April 12.
Curator of Museum Rietberg Johannes Beltz tweeted, “The colossal Gandhara Buddha from Peshawar is back to his home – after being part of the exhibition “Next Stop Nirvana” at the Museum Bietberg. More than 35,000 visitors of all ages came to admire this great work of art. In the name of the entire museum Rietberg, I thank all supporters, helpers, and partners, who made this possible. In particular, my thanks go to the Peshawar Museum, the Swiss Embassy in Islamabad, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Government of Pakistan!”