Save Borobudur


Indonesia - stamp Save Borobudur 1983UNESCO's association with the safeguarding of Borobodur began in 1968 when the first expert mission was dispatched at the request of the Indonesian Government. As a result, in 1972 UNESCO launched the International Safeguarding Campaign of Borobudur, and with the financial assistance of some 27 countries and the close cooperation of the Indonesian Government, a comprehensive restoration project helped bring Borobudur back to its former splendour. Twenty million dollars are raised to support a bold plan: the complete dismantling and reconstruction of the lower terraces of the monument – stone by stone...


Over one million stones are moved during the course of restoration, and set aside like pieces of a massive jig-saw puzzle. Thirteen hundred carved panels are taken apart and individually cleaned, catalogued and treated for preservation. And Borobudur becomes a testing ground for new conservation techniques – new procedures to battle the micro-organisms eating away at the stone. Experts in engineering, chemistry, biology and archaeology all share their skills to solve the multitude of problems. The restoration takes eight years of labour and unprecedented international cooperation to complete.


Queen Juliana of the Netherlands touching a buddha during her state visit 1971In the words of Professor Soekmono, the Indonesian archaeologist who directed the Borobudur Restoration Project: "Borobudur has resumed its old historical role as a place of learning, dedication and training. We might even conclude that the builders of the monument hoped and planned for such continuity. An excellent training program, either for the pilgrim-devotee or for the field technician, is always based on a wish, a fervent wish, that the trainee will achieve what is projected. For the ardent Buddhist it is the Highest Wisdom that leads to the Ultimate salvation, and for the technician the highest degree of expertise that leads to the appropriate fulfilment of his duty. In both cases, Candi Borobudur is the embodiment of such a deeply felt wish. It is a prayer in stone."


Cover of The Restauration of Borobudur 2006On 3 April 2006, the Director-General of UNESCO, together with Mr Hari Untoro Dradjat, Representative of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia and Mr Aman Wirakartakusumah, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to UNESCO, celebrated the official launch of the publication entitled The Restoration of Borobudur. Mr H. Arief Rachman, Indonesia's representative on the Executive Board, also attended the ceremony.


In referring to the publication in his opening remarks, the Director-General said, "This impressive book is the record of more than two decades of painstaking work accomplished by the team of experts entrusted with the rehabilitation of the ancient Buddhist temple known as Chandi Borobudur."


UNESCO Borobudur medalThe Director-General said, "In the current era of accelerating globalization, the international community recognizes the importance of promoting cultural diversity in all its forms in order to promote respect for the fundamental values making up our cultural identity and to ensure sustainable development for all peoples in the world. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the wonderful story of Borobudur described in this publication raises many crucial questions regarding the international community's actions in favour of humanity's cultural heritage." Finally, in his closing remarks the Director-General assured that "UNESCO will remain firmly committed to working with Member States to address such challenges in the future... More precisely, we must extend the scope of our approach to include the safeguarding for not only tangible but also intangible heritage. Their combined contribution to the protection and promotion of cultural diversity is vital for guaranteeing sustainable development worldwide."


The presentation of the Borobudur medal to president Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan 2006In 1976 UNESCO issued a special Borobudur medal. Designed by Josaku Maeda and engraved by Georges Simon, the medal’s obverse shows Buddha in a state of meditation. The reverse offers a view of the temple’s upper terraces, with the main giant stupa surrounded by the three symmetrical rings of smaller stupas. On special occasion the medal is presented as a token of gratitude for a person's support to the organization and its work. In 1992 Queen Sirikit of Thailand received the medal. The presentation of the Borobudur Medal to president Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan in 2006 raised a lot of protest from human rights organizations.





The inscription of Borobudur on the World Heritage List.

The UNESCO Borududur Medal.



Stamp catalogue


Netherlands                   29 June 1971









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last revised: 9 February 2008