UNESCO'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.
In 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."
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
The 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."
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.
Netherlands 29 June
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