[ by Charles Cameron — a question of value ]
The Buddha rests quietly in a corner of the National Museum of Afghanistan.
While a group of Afghan restorers — with more than four decades of experience between them — work to restore similar artefacts, the Buddha, dating back to at least the second century BC, sits cross-legged, arms folded, awaiting its public debut in the city.
The statue, set to be unveiled to the public in the coming weeks, is a testament to the rich history of a nation that has seen various empires and conquerors pass through its land.
“There are artefacts in every corner of this country,” said Fahim Rahimi, the director of the National Museum of Afghanistan. However, even the layers of sand, silt and time have not been able to keep these artefacts safe from the forces of conflict and capitalism.
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The Buddha itself, discovered near the nation’s largest copper mine, is an embodiment of the duelling threats facing the physical remnants of Afghanistan’s cultural history. The statue, sitting in a reconstructed stupa, was found in 2012 in the Mes Aynak area of the eastern province of Logar. Mes Aynak, meaning literally “the little copper source,” is home to a 2,000-year-old Buddhist city filled with ancient statues, manuscripts, frescoes, shrines and stupas. It is also at the centre of a $3billion Chinese mining contract signed in 2007.
William Bruce My NameSake and presumed Clansman Cameron wrote “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Equation implies equals. Here we have a tug of cash-and-peace.