Digitisation of northern Thai manuscripts (Thailand)

Thanks to the digitisation of northern Thai manuscripts as part of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, valuable historical documents have been preserved and made available to the public via the internet.

 

The cultural and literary traditions of northern Thailand have made an essential contribution to the development of related cultures throughout the region. However, northern Thailand’s rich manuscript collections have remained severely under-researched due to a lack of accessibility. The database of northern Thai literature is therefore an important milestone in efforts to preserve Thailand’s cultural heritage. The texts, which span more than 500 years, address cultural and local traditions, astrology, mythology, legal interpretations, social relations and everyday life; they are not only part of the country’s cultural heritage, but also strengthen the Thai people’s cultural identity.

The Federal Foreign Office already between 1987 and 1992 supported the creation of a microfilm record of northern Thai manuscripts. This microfilm collection was later digitised with funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme. Since March 2016 it is publicly available on the internet, free of charge. In 2017, selected manuscripts from 22 temples in Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao and Chiang Rai were directly digitised, thereby completing the online collection.

The manuscripts are being digitised in northern Thailand by a photographer and a handwriting expert. Their work is supported by local volunteers and supervised by the project leader and the technical coordinator. All work is performed directly at each temple, in coordination with the local abbot. Once the digitisation is completed, each manuscript is carefully wrapped in its piece of cloth and returned to where it was originally stored.

Historic palm leaf manuscripts at Wat Pa Sak Noi Temple in Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand | © David Wharton
 

Just prior to being photographed, each manuscript is cleaned and examined. Some leaves are wiped with high-grade alcohol to make them more easily readable. The project staff and local monks involved in the project are offered training to show them how to properly clean and arrange the individual palm leaves.

A digital single-lens reflex camera is highly portable and takes high-quality photos that can be archived and viewed on the internet. The photos are later added to the Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts, along with the respective inventory data in English and Thai.

To round out the manuscript website, photos are uploaded of temples, libraries, manuscript boxes, scribes and the direct digitisation process.

 

Image: A manuscript at Wat Pa Sak Noi Temple | © 2015 David Wharton, Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

 

 

 

Conservation work on the temples at Bagan (Myanmar)

Thanks to the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the temples of Bagan, an important cultural heritage site and tourist attraction, are being preserved, both as important testimony to the culture of Myanmar and for the benefit of future generations. In August 2016, a severe earthquake damaged a number of the temples in the former royal city of Bagan. Funding provided by the Cultural Preservation Programme is enabling the reconstruction and conservation of the ancient temples.

During a preparatory trip in May 2017, the two German conservation experts Prof. Hans Leisen and Dr Esther von Plehwe Leisen, along with the German conservator restorer Andrea Teufel and in coordination with the Myanmar Department of Archaeology (DoA), determined which two temples the restoration work would focus on.
The damage has meanwhile been examined and analysed. Conservator restorers are being trained at both temples, and conservation work is underway. All measures are closely coordinated with the Department of Archaeology and carried out in cooperation with the Myanmar conservation team.

The Nanpaya sandstone temple is where stone conservation training is conducted by the Department of Archaeology, as well as where sample conservation work based on scientific research is done to protect against weather damage. In addition to preserving valuable decorations, the cultural preservation project gives DoA staff the opportunity to independently plan and properly carry out conservation work. Now that the samples taken in 2017 have been examined, and the required conservation material, tools and equipment procured, an initial on site campaign is being launched in 2018.

In addition to developing a conservation strategy, the project focuses on conducting conservation workshops with DoA staff on natural stone, documentation and investigation techniques, as well as the properties and production of conservation products.

 

Until now, no scientific strategy had been developed to ensure long‑term conservation and restoration of the murals. This project aims to do just that | © Andrea Teufel.
 

Like many other temples at Bagan, the interior walls of Narathihapatae Hpaya Temple (formerly Tayok Pye) are covered with ancient murals. Bagan is a unique cultural heritage site in terms of the concentration, number and quality of its ancient murals, which are between 400 and 900 years old. Although some have been lost, a great number have survived. Because there has been damage due to previous faulty renovation, better and more systematic conservation and restoration work is urgently needed.

To develop a scientific, long term and non damaging method for conserving the murals, samples were taken in 2017. The original materials and techniques were analysed, and different cleaning and conservation methods were tested on the samples and the results evaluated. In 2018, the conservation methods developed through these tests are being reconfirmed and further developed on site in Bagan, and sample areas are being prepared for the conservation and restoration effort. A key aim of the project is to provide basic and further training to the Myanmar staff in Bagan.

The Federal Foreign Office’s on site conservation and training programmes in Bagan promote scientific cooperation with Myanmar. By providing basic and further training to the Myanmar conservation team, the transfer of know how and sustainability is ensured.

 

Read more: The Golden Letter (Myanmar)

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 

 

Image: Narathihapatae Hpaya Temple (formerly Tayok Pye) is one of some 400 sacred buildings in Bagan with extant murals. © Andrea Teufel

Palaces of Mustang will be restored (Nepal)

Within the next years three medieval palaces in the former kingdom of Mustang in Nepal will be documented and restored. The World Heritage site was partly destroyed by earthquakes in 2015.

Lo Manthang, the capital of the former kingdom of Mustang in present-day Nepal, has been on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage List since 2008. Mustang was an independent kingdom until 1950. It was founded in 1440 by its first ruler King Amepal (1388-1440). In addition to the temples and monasteries, the royal palaces (Darbar) of Mustang are an important part of the regional architecture. Like the monasteries, they reflect the economic and cultural heyday of the region in the 15th and 16th centuries.

In terms of cultural history, the palaces of the kings of Mustang in the region constitute an important architectural group and are impressive examples of 15th-century architecture. Not least owing to the earthquake in 2015, several of the region’s palace complexes are severely damaged. A research project headed by Prof. Ulrike Wulf-Rheidt (German Archaeological Institute Berlin) and Dr. Susanne von der Heide (HimalAsia Foundation Kathmandu, Nepal) aims to document and repair three especially threatened palaces, namely those in Gemi, Dhagmar and Thingkar.

 

Dhagmar, palace complex | © DAI.

 

The Gerda Henkel Foundation is supporting the project in the context of its funding initiative “Patrimonies”, in which it seeks to make a contribution to preserving cultural heritage above all in crisis regions. Following the 2015 earthquake, the Foundation announced a Nepal initiative together with the German Federal Foreign Office. Since then, in addition to humanitarian aid for the population, measures have been implemented to reconstruct significant buildings.

 

 

The research team on the roof of the palace of Lo Manthang, 2016 | © DAI

 

 

Image: Sanctuary in the palace of Ghemi | © DAI

Source: Press release Gerda Henkel Stiftung

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resoration work in Angkor

Conservation of the Angkor temple complex (Cambodia)

The Federal Foreign Office supports the restoration and conservation of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Angkor Wat.

 

Some of the world’s most impressive cultural sites and artefacts are to be found in South-East Asia, amidst the forests of Cambodia. The massive scale and artistry of the temple city of Angkor, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, are simply breathtaking. Angkor Wat is a prominent symbol of Cambodia’s cultural identity; it is depicted on the Cambodian national flag and is one of the country’s most important attractions.

From the 9th to the 14th century, the Khmer Empire was centred in Cambodia. The largest and most important temple in the Angkor park is Angkor Wat. Its surface is decorated with unique statues and carvings, including almost 1850 heavenly beings known locally as Apsaras, bas reliefs up to 100 metres long in the galleries, and tympanums which look as though they have been carved from wood, many of which are in a worrying condition due to weather damage. As part of its Cultural Preservation Programme, the Federal Foreign Office is funding restoration and conservation work in Angkor and providing training for restorers and conservators.

 

Angkor Wat: new site showing dramatic damage. © Leisen/TH Köln

Following Angkor’s inscription on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC Angkor) was established in order to coordinate international preservation efforts with UNESCO . Since 1993, expert teams from 16 countries have been working to preserve and examine the temple complex, which has a magnetic attraction for a steadily increasing number of tourists.

Since 1997, under the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) in cooperation with the Cambodian heritage protection authority Apsara, a team from TH Köln/University of Applied Sciences headed by Professor Hans Leisen and Dr Esther von Plehwe-Leisen has been restoring the 12th century sandstone bas reliefs on the world’s largest sacred building as well as decorative features made of sandstone, brick and plaster on many other temples with financial support from the Federal Foreign Office.

 

 

An example of German-Cambodian cooperation

The restoration and conservation work is being performed by local restorers. The two German experts train Cambodian staff in conservation techniques and scientific working methods thereby creating new earning opportunities. In December 2017 during the ICC annual meeting, a symposium was held and a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the TH Köln/University of Applied Sciences and Apsara to mark the 20th anniversary of German engagement in Angkor. Certificates were presented to the local team by the Cambodian Minister of Culture detailing their involvement in the project.
The GACP is the most comprehensive and longest project in the Cultural Preservation Programme. The German team has earned great international recognition for its working methods and techniques, as well as for the results of its work. Through its worldwide involvement in the protection and maintenance of significant cultural heritage sites, Germany is making a crucial contribution to preserving cultural identities, promoting knowledge transfer and fostering intercultural dialogue.

 

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office

 Image: GACP team carrying out conservation work. © Leisen/TH Köln

Reconstructed temple of Karakorum.

Karakorum – A medieval city rises in 3D (Mongolia)

Digital preservation of cultural heritage has become an important tool for archaeologists and conservationists. The 3D visualisation of the medieval city of Karakorum gives us new exciting insights into the very heart of the mongolian empire.

 

Karakorum (in Mogolia) lies approximately 320 km west to the capital Ulaan Baatar and was a medieval city, that is newly excavated since 2000 by a German-Mongolian joint mission. The excavation is focused on a terrace, on which a ‘Great Hall’ was constructed. After evaluating the archaeological record, it is believed that the ‘Great Hall’ was in fact a Buddhist temple. On basis of the wall paintings as well as the architectural sculptures, a dating between the 12th and the 14th century is probable. The structure is one-phased, but features several restorations and alterations of unknown dimensions.Influences of Tibetan architecture is found in the ground plan of the central temple, that was built after the principle of a Mandala. The ground plan has a square form and is structured by the inner layout of the temple. The centre of the structure was emphasized by the erection of a stupa. The overall orientation of the terrace as well as the building to the four cardinal points in the North, East, South and West support the interpretation as a building with religious function even further.

 
 

 

The reconstruction was visualised with an animation to be able to explain the complicated composition of the terrace as well as the ‘Great Hall’, that shows influences of Chinese and Tibetan architecture. Especially the accurate realisation of the archaeological documented results, that was given by the excavators, was important to the team of Artefacts Berlin. The animation will be displayed in a nearby museum. Therefore, the translation of the explaining texts into Mongolian is self-explanatory. For a better understanding, the animation is divided into four parts: Location of the site, archaeological record, modern superstructure for preservation and the reconstruction of the ‘Great Hall’ itself.

The project was realised by Artefacts Berlin on behalf of Dr. Christina Franken, Kommission für Archäologie Außereuropäischer Kulturen (KAAK), Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI), Bonn.

 

Source:  Artefacts Berlin 

Temple restoration in the imperial city of Hué (Viet Nam)

Works of art and edifices testify to Viet Nam’s culture reaching back for centuries. They convey past lifestyles to today’s generations in an impressive way – to the Vietnamese population and to tourists from around the world alike. But works of art have a tough time in Viet Nam. The humid and warm climate, past military conflicts and maintenance work neglected and postponed over many decades have taken their toll on these unique buildings.

The German Embassy in Hanoi has therefore been working intensively for many years in close cooperation with Vietnamese experts and organisations within the framework of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office to restore buildings and cultural sites in the long term. Extensive restoration work on the gateway and the spirit screen of the Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc in Hué and the community hall in Tran Dang are examples of Germany’s cultural policy in Viet Nam. Thanks to the cooperation between German restoration experts and Vietnamese cultural sponsors, important steps have been taken towards preserving this cultural heritage. Moreover, further measures have been launched in recent years that are supported by funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office that have promising prospects for the future.

 

Temple Restauration Vietnam
External façade of the south gate (© A.Teufel/GEKE)

 

Conservation and restoration in line with UNESCO standards

The conservation and restoration of the portal, screen and basin of the Phung Tien Temple began in August 2017 with an accompanying training programme. The almost 200 year old construction is one of the most valuable examples of original preserved architecture from the early period of construction of the imperial city designed in accordance with Feng Shui rules. In contrast to the temple on the site, which was destroyed in 1947, it has withstood the test of time. Traditional building materials and technologies as well as modern conservation materials and methods are being drawn on. A special emphasis is placed on the development and application of an authentic restoration method for frescos and buildings featuring coloured plastering. The project with an accompanying training programme is being implemented with employees from local restoration companies and the Hué Monuments Conservation Centre, as well as freelance artisans.

 

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office 

Emir`s Pavilion.

Kuti e Baghtsha – the Emir`s Pavilion (Afghanistan)

Situated in the heart of the Afghan government quarter in Kabul, Kuti e Baghtsha, the “house of the little garden”, contains exquisite examples of Afghan art. Abandoned for many years, the Pavilion is now used by the Afghan President when receiving guests.

The Afghan Emir Abdur Rahman Khan – the Iron Emir – had his seat of government built in the centre of Kabul in the form of a fortified citadel (Arg). As the “nucleus” of the Afghan nation, the Arg was of historical importance. In the last century, the palace complex was the seat of several generations of rulers who wrote Afghan history. Kings were crowned and rulers assassinated here. In the southern corner, a small pavilion was built with rich decorations consisting of lavish wall paintings, stucco, carvings and gold leaf embellishments of the highest artistic standard. An oriental garden was created around the pavilion. Known as Kuti e Baghtsha, the “house of the little garden”, the elaborately decorated pavilion was constructed between 1880 and 1901 to plans by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan. From 1924 to 1931, the Emir’s Pavilion Kuti e Baghtsha housed part of the Afghan national museum.

Kuti e Baghtsha before the restoration.
Kuti e Baghtsha before the restoration.

After the invasion of Soviet troops in 1979, the Arg complex was damaged and fell increasingly into disrepair. The restoration work undertaken in 1990/91 was destroyed in the prolonged civil war that followed. After the end of the Taliban regime in 2001, work on the Arg complex began with a view to using it again. However, Kuti e Baghtsha was not included in this project until 2008 and became increasingly dilapidated. Due to its uniqueness, the Afghanistan Rehabilitation Group, a German society established for this purpose, carried out restoration work from 2008 to 2012 with the support of the Federal Foreign Office and the Gerda Henkel Foundation as well as with the expert assistance of the Department of Restoration at the TU München under the direction of Prof. Emmerling.

Parallel to the restoration work, a training programme was set up to enable young Afghan men and women to take part in a two-year further training course to qualify as conservators specialising in artisan skills.

The Afghan Rehabilitation Group is keen to provide women with vocational training and employment.
The Afghan Rehabilitation Group is keen to provide women with vocational training and employment.

Due to the very different kinds of damage, the restoration required expertise from diverse disciplines. In addition to traditional building techniques using clay, the conservators had to relearn traditional painting techniques. The original plaster was not replaced but fortified. Irreparable stucco was re-formed. Damaged wall paintings were also repaired, while gaps were laboriously filled.

Today Kuti e Baghtsha is used for receptions hosted by the Afghan President.

Project: Sekandar Ozod-Seradj, Head of the project and chairman of the Afghan Rehabilitation Group; Werner Müller, Deputy chairman of the Afghan Rehabilitation Group

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Mehrangarh Fort.

The Queens’ Palace (India)

Mehrangarh Fort stands majestically high above the Indian city of Jodhpur. Its scale, the filigree details and its unique situation make the fort a cultural gem on the subcontinent and a valuable heritage for future generations.

The fort was founded by Rao Jodha of the Rathore dynasty in 1459 and in terms of both its dimensions and its construction is an outstanding example of Rajput architecture, which was perfectly oriented to the climatic conditions in this desert region: horizontally and vertically staggered rooms, open and closed areas ensure optimum ventilation of the buildings, made of local red sandstone. The exterior is characterized by filigree sandstone jali screens, which let light and air flood in.

Mehrangarh fort
Mehrangarh fort, in the foreground Jaswant thada, the mausoleum of the rathore royal family.

The existing palaces and temples were largely built between the mid-17th and mid-18th centuries, with the Zenana, or Queens’ Palace, forming the heart of the ensemble, both in historical and in spatial terms. Since then the fort, built of red sandstone and set high on a rocky plateau, has been continually extended and altered. Up until about 1890, the fort served as the residence and seat of government of the rulers of Jodhpur-Marwar. Not until the 1940s were parts of it again inhabited; the ladies of the court still resident there finally left the Zenana in the 1960s. Mehrangarh Fort has been a museum since 1974 and has become a prime attraction offering outstanding exhibitions.

View of the central courtyard of the Queens’ Palace.
View of the central courtyard of the Queens’ Palace.

The fort’s sandstone facades in particular are at risk from material fatigue owing to the severe climatic conditions. Decades of inadequate maintenance work have led to serious damage to the facades and interiors of the Zenana. The project of preserving the Zenana began in 1997 with initial preparatory measures including an architectural survey, the listing of recommended conservation measures for each room and urgent repairs to make the ceilings and roofs safe. Conservation and restoration work was carried out between 2006 and 2008. All work was carried out by the indogerman team following the principle of minimal intervention but with the goal of preserving the historic structures, materials and surfaces in as authentic a manner as possible in order to retain for future generations the splendour of the fort in its original state.

Project: Christine Becker-Koob, Project Director, KALEIDOSKOOB® (formerly Becker & Koob), Berlin

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Historic village centre of Tran Dang.

Historic village centre restored to its former glory (Viet Nam)

The historic village centre of Tran Dang in north-east Viet Nam is testament to a rich cultural heritage. Here, where for centuries people have met, traders bartered and believers worshipped protective spirits, restoration workers are endeavouring to preserve historic evidence.

The ancient village centre of Tran Dang – the village hall, the socalled Dinh, being the oldest building – dates back to the 13th century. It stands on a peninsula shaped like a tortoise – one of the four animals held as sacred by the Vietnamese. The joists and beams of the building are decorated with valuable – because of the degree of craftsmanship – woodcarvings. Some are in colour, some purely ornamental, while others depict scenes from folklore and mythology. On the roof ridge there are figures of sacred animals made of rare black clay.

The Dinh was later extended to include an altar room to honour the village’s protective deity. The bell tower, village fountain, the bridge to the Dinh and the main gate to the square date back to the later Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945). It was during this period that the most recent innovations of historical and artistic value took place. During the Vietnam War, the tower bells warned the surrounding villagers of American bombing raids and the village hall was used to store rice and other food. After the war, makeshift repairs restored the damaged building for use as the focus of the village community once more.

Over the centuries the inhabitants of Tran Dang have done their best to look after and maintain the building. Over time, however, infestations, water damage and the effects of age have taken their toll on the building. The task of maintaining it was too great for the local population, who lacked both funding and the necessary expertise.

Now, with funding from the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme, the entire construction of the Dinh – built of ironwood – has been restored in line with its value as a historic monument. The roofs of the main house and altar room extension and other historic features have also been restored. The buildings adjacent to the village hall and the village fountain, also situated in the centre, will be restored next. The village inhabitants are closely involved in the work.

That the historic centre of Tran Dang can already bask in its newfound glory is the impressive result of the restoration work so far.

Project: Andrea Teufel, Project Director, German Conservation Restoration and Education Projects (GCREP)

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Chinese researchers at work.

Silk Road Fashion: Clothes in the 1st millennium BC (China)

Clothes make the man, but very seldom they can survive the millennia. Due to the extremely dry climate of western China, intact trousers, skirts and caftans as well as boots and leather coats are frequently brought to light during archaeological excavations. With this project, a joint research group of five German project partners in cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Bureau of Cultural Heritage (PR China) aims at reconstructing the knowledge about ancient techniques and body, social structures, availability of resources and trade networks in Eastern Central Asia approximately from 1200 BC to 300 AD. Methods from various disciplines will be utilized to reach this goal, including archaeology, textile- and leather research, dyestuff analysis, ornament studies, cut analysis, paleopathology, vegetation and climate research, cultural anthropology as well as linguistics.

Man with full equipment from Yanghai.
Man with full equipment from Yanghai, Turfan, Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region China, 11th Century BC. Photo: DAI

The oldest discoveries of clothing originate from the less well known indigenous people from the Turfan and Hami regions. As to the clothes dating from the 7th to 3rd centuries BC, these might be identified as remnants of local people as well as of immigrated groups of mobile pastoralists. Traces of the nomadic Xiongnu are to be expected among the finds from the 3rd to the 1st century BC. With regard to the most recent finds from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD, influences exerted by immigrants and travellers from China, the Greco-Roman Empire, Parthia, Sogdiana, and the Saka city states of the Kushan Empire at the southern edge of the Tarim Basin can be identified.

Material analyses and the documentation of the archaeological finds contribute to the development of sustainable practices for the physical conservation of cultural heritage in Xinjiang and their virtual availability worldwide. The training of Chinese conservators and the production of related teaching material are of especially high value in the project. 

Leather coat with fur lining from Hami.
Leather coat with fur lining from Hami, Xinjiang, Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Photo: Joy Zhou / DAI

The times the different sites of which the study material was selected from were occupied vary in length and can be divided into several phases from the end of the 2nd millennium BC to the early 1st century AD. Textile finds from Xinjiang have been investigated internationally especially in terms of material and manufacturing techniques. 

Unprecedented primary data are gained from the investigation of the apparel of individuals, their climatic environment and texts written in local languages both in quality and quantity, and they will add to the history of knowledge in central and eastern Central Asia. Some of the innovations which we uncovered (e.g. the invention of trousers) are of global importance and are up-to-date still today. They emphasize how important it is to analyze archaeological data on a global scale and to make them accessible to scientists for further research and the broader audience.

German and Chinese researchers at work.
German and Chinese researchers at work. Photo: Joy Zhou / DAI

For our Chinese partners, the practical goal aspired from the research lies in the development of sustainable practices for the physical conservation of cultural heritage in Xinjiang. In cooperation with German specialists, the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage organizes the training of conservators in safeguarding the find material from China (compare the project “Conservation and restoration of archaeological leather”).

Project and cooperation partners:

German Archaeological Institute, Eurasia Department, Beijing Branch Office; Natural Sciences Department of the Head Office

State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt – State Museum of Prehistory

Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Institute for Organic Chemistry

Free University Berlin, Department for East Asian Art History

Free University Berlin, Institute of Geological Sciences, Palaeontology

Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Turfan Studies

Chinese Academy for Cultural Heritage

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Bureau of Cultural Heritage

Project promoted by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Source: bridging-eurasia.org

Bagh-e Babur.

Bagh-e Babur – Gardens with a splendid past (Afghanistan)

Babur Gardens, known as Bagh-e Babur, in the Afghan capital Kabul are an oasis of peace in a wartorn land. With over a million visitors since they reopened in 2008, the gardens are the city’s most popular leisure attraction and at the same time an important witness of Afghan history.

South-west of Kabul Old Town, at the foot of Kuh-e Sher Darwaza hill, lies Bagh-e Babur, one of the oldest surviving gardens from the Mughal period. Bagh-e Babur, laid out after the conquest of Kabul (1504), was one of many gardens established by Zahir ad-Din Muhammad Babur (1483–1530), the founder of the Mughal dynasty. The ruler’s passion for gardens had a long tradition: for thousands of years gardens had been an integral part of home and palace culture. In the Islamic world, garden planning and design incorporates both religious concepts and aesthetic principles. Intricate geometric forms on either side of a central axis reflect order in diversity, transposed in nature with marble water-channels, fountains and cascades. The garden is a metaphor for divine order and, as a paradise on earth, a place of refuge for the faithful.

The garden’s importance – and its survival to the present day – is due to Babur’s wish to be buried there, in his homeland, far from the hot Indian plains. As his last resting-place, Bagh-e Babur became a place of pilgrimage for his successors. Their memoirs contain detailed descriptions of the work they financed to embellish the gravesite. After the collapse of the Mughal empire, from about 1750, the garden fell into neglect. Lithographs, early photos and travel writings from the 19th century show it to be unkempt. It was not tended again until Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, the first ruler of a united Afghanistan (r. 1880–1901) and a keen builder, took the garden in hand and radically altered it in keeping with the style of the day. The last major changes date from the reign of Nadir Shah (1929–1933), who put a European stamp on the gardens. It was this garden which withstood the time of war and political confusion, with its sparse vegetation and pockmarked by the detritus of war.

Initial plans to redesign Bagh-e Babur paying heed to its historical roots were made back in the 1970s, but the political situation was such that they could not be implemented. It was not until 2002 that a new chapter in the long life of the garden began. Following the discovery of structures from the Mughal era during the investigations carried out by the German Archaeological Institute (2002–2005) the interdisciplinary rehabilitation project of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture modelled the reconstruction of the garden on this research.

Responsibility for the garden passed into Afghan hands in 2008, and it has since been managed by an independent trust. In view of its historical importance, Bagh-e Babur became part of UNESCO’s Tentative List for inclusion in the World Heritage List in 2009.

Project: Ute Franke, archaeology Projects Director, Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin; Jolyon leslie, Programme Manager, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Afghanistan

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The Chinese port city of Qingdao.

Traces of Germany in the Middle Kingdom (China)

From 1898 until 1914 the Chinese port city of Qingdao was a German concession. Even today the face of the city is dominated by old German architecture: Christ Church in particular bears witness to a bygone age.

Christ Church, originally called “New Church”, was built by the Berlin Protestant Church Board between 1908 and 1910 and consecrated on 23 October 1910. Following the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Tse-Tung, the then last service in Christ Church was held on 27 November 1949, the first Sunday of Advent.

In the wake of the reform and opening-up of China, the exercise of religion under state control is again possible. Sunday services have been celebrated in Christ Church again since 1980. Today the church has around 1200 members and is used for baptisms, confirmations and weddings. It has a lively musical life ranging from the church choir to rap.

Christ Church after a well-attended sunday service.
Christ Church after a well-attended sunday service.

The Free State of Bavaria, as part of its twinning link with Shandong Province, has done much to preserve the German cultural heritage in Qingdao. Now the Foundation for the Preservation of German-Style Buildings in China, with a grant from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, has worked with German experts to reconstruct the copper covering on the top of the spire. At the same time, the roof was restored with a weathercock to replace the one which fell in a storm in 1942. The next projects planned are the restoration of the pipe organ and the ornate leaded windows, which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

The restoration of Christ Church’s capped roof is no mere construction project; it is a highly symbolic project, a special way to approach Sino-German history.

Clock of the Christ Church.
Clock of the Christ Church.

Qingdao, whose economy and population are growing rapidly, is increasingly looking to its German colonial heritage, not so much out of nostalgia but rather in the realization that preserving and restoring its historic architecture will give it a competitive advantage over other cities which are becoming ever more faceless and similar as a result of modernization.

Although other cities, e.g. Weifang, Wohan and Tianjin, have notable German-style buildings too, only Qingdao has an Old Town laid out entirely in the European style. An application has been submitted for its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Project: Harm Oltmann, foundation for the Preservation of german-style Buildings in China; Martin Fleischer, German Embassy in Beijing

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Restoration work on the figure of Vishnu.

Angkor Wat (Cambodia)

In south-east Asia, amidst the jungles of Cambodia, lie some of the most impressive cultural sites in the world. The temple complex Angkor, which has been in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, captivates visitors with its majestic dimensions and wide variety of art forms.

From the 9th till the 14th century, Cambodia was the heart of high Khmer culture. The largest and most important temple in the area is Angkor Wat. Its surfaces are decorated with unique stone sculptures, including almost 1850 divinities (known locally as „apsaras“), bas-reliefs up to 100m long in the galleries and richly-decorated tympanums which look as though they have been carved from wood. These latter, however, are in a worrying condition; many have already fallen victim to the weather.

Restoration work at prasat kravan temple.
Restoration work at prasat kravan temple. © Leisen/TH Köln

Since 1995 a team from Cologne University of Applied Sciences has been working to prevent further decay. The restoration and conservation measures are being carried out by lecturers and students from the Institute of Restoration and Conservation Science in cooperation with a team of Cambodian conservators. The project also receives support from external scientists in the fields of geology, geomicrobiology and chemistry.

Every natural stone has its own characteristic properties; each one reacts differently to the effects of the weather. Since 1995, therefore, the sandstone blocks used to build Angkor and the damage already caused have been the subject of detailed investigation so that decisions can be taken on the most suitable conservation methods. Every situation, every temple, is considered individually, and all steps in the process must be documented in detail.

A thorough survey revealed that about 300 apsaras and a large number of reliefs on the pediments of Angkor Wat were so badly damaged that large pieces of stone could fall off at any time. Since 1998 the weather-beaten reliefs have been undergoing painstaking conservation. However, it will not be possible to prevent further damage completely. Continual monitoring and maintenance will be needed.

Documentation and conservation of life-size elephants.
Documentation and conservation of life-size elephants. © Leisen/TH Köln

The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) began in 2003 with an examination of further temples in Angkor Park, including the early brick temples with their amazing stucco decorations. On the basis of the findings, conservation measures were successfully carried out. In 2006 work extended also to Koh Ker temple, north-east of Angkor. In 2008 work began on the derelict remains of Preah Khan Kampong Svay.

If the work is to be successful, the workers must undergo constant training. As part of the project, the GACP trained the Cambodian conservators. Students from Cologne University of Applied Sciences and other universities can help with project work during their practical semester or help with dissertations. Playing a part in a major scientific research project on a UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique opportunity for the students.

Project: Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen, Project Director, Cologne University of Applied Sciences

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The team at work.

Saving The Murals of Vat Sisaket in Vientiane (Laos)

Between 1818 and 1824, King Anouvong had a monastic complex built in Vientiane which has weathered all that history has thrown at it. The oldest construction in the city, it is now a national memorial and museum housing the largest and most significant collection of 15th to 19th-century Buddhist sculpture and what are probably the oldest murals in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Only a few years after the monastic complex was completed, two Siamese invasions left the city of Vientiane almost razed to the ground. Vat Sisaket alone was spared. King Anouvong had attacked Siam in a bid to secure the independence of his kingdom. He and his family were publicly put to death in Bangkok, and the people of Vientiane were deported to Bangkok and neighbouring Siamese regions for forced labour. It was not until the French colonisation of Laos, from 1893 onwards, that the city began to recover. Vat Sisaket, still home to monks while Vientiane had lain deserted around it for nearly 70 years, was restored for the first time in 1896. More restoration work was to follow.

Interior of the temple in March 2015 following initial restoration (on the right).
Interior of the temple in March 2015 following initial restoration (on the right). © Andrea Teufel/GEKE e.V.

 

In the sim, the temple and heart of the complex, 400m2 of murals from five different periods can be seen today. They depict adventures from the life of Prince Pookkharabat as told in the Balasankhya Jataka, alongside decorative floral compositions. Created between 1820 and 1960, they are a unique testament to the changing style of Lao Buddhist mural painting. Today, their condition is characterised by earlier structural damage, rising damp and salt deposits in the walls, crumbling plaster, peeling layers of paint and stubborn accumulations of dirt.

There used to be murals in the cloister which surrounds the temple, but they have been almost completely destroyed. Produced in part using unsuitable materials and protected only by a roof, they proved unable to withstand the tropical climate over time.

Work to comprehensively restore the buildings began in 2011. Something urgently needed to be done, but the expertise required for the extremely complicated conservation and restoration of the temple and cloister murals was unavailable in Laos; this prompted Germany’s Federal Foreign Office to release cultural heritage funds for the project. Not only can the murals now be preserved, but Lao artists have an opportunity for further training too. Extensive assessments were carried out and a conservation and restoration plan drawn up in cooperation with the Heritage Department of the Lao Culture Ministry. An international team started putting that plan into practice in 2014. A sample in the cloister shows what the original painted decoration was like. In the temple itself, the many visitors can already marvel at the first results of the mural restoration.

Project: Andrea Teufel, Project Manager

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Golden Letter with hamsa bird and ruby clasp.

The Golden Letter (Myanmar)

On 7 May 1756, King Alaungphaya of Myanmar ordered a letter to be written to the British King (and Hanoverian Elector) George II proposing the establishment of a trading colony in his territory. Alaungphaya was the founder of the Konbaung dynasty, which ruled in Myanmar until 1886. Following a long period of war and division, he united the country, returning it to a position of power in the region.

The letter is engraved on a sheet of pure gold measuring 55 x 12 cm and is adorned with 24 precious rubies. It was contained in the hollow tusk of an Indian elephant. The materials used in and the care taken with its production are a visible demonstration of the importance the author of the letter attached to it.

The Golden Letter.
The Golden Letter. © GWLB

 

Alaungphaya's offer was of global significance, as it could have helped Britain in her colonial competition with France. However, after a two year journey to London, the letter was never answered. King George II, tied up with the wars in Europe, sent it home to his library in Hanover. As a result of his offer falling on deaf ears, Alaungphaya had Britain’s only trade settlement in his country destroyed, and relations between the two countries were broken off for centuries.

For 250 years the original letter was believed lost. Although the Golden Letter had always been regarded as a particularly valuable document in the library, little was known of its importance in world history. In 2007, Jacques Leider, carrying out research on behalf of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, shed light on the matter. The first public displays of the Golden Letter in Hanover in 2011 attracted tens of thousands of visitors and sparked global media interest.  

The letter was contained in the hollow tusk of an Asian elephant.
The letter was contained in the hollow tusk of an Asian elephant. © GWLB

 

On behalf of the Federal Foreign Office and with support from the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, the company Scanbull Software GmbH digitised the Golden Letter in 3D so that with the available data it can be presented in various ways: 3D projections of the digital model in mid air, on a screen, in glass showcases or as facsimiles or print-outs. The valuable data enable the model to be presented in virtually every analogue and digital format, allowing it to be reproduced in freely selected media – from a print-out of a particular detail to a media installation. On the basis of this digitised version, the Government of Myanmar is being provided with a 3D film of the Golden Letter and a 3D monitor for the exhibit in the new national museum in Nay Pyi Taw.

Project: Dr. Georg Ruppelt, Director of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

SourceWorlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Exterior of the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine.

Restoration of the old town and regional development in Balkh (Afghanistan)

The town of Balkh, which was known as Bactra in ancient times, dates back to 500 B.C. and is situated some 20 kilometres north-west of Mazar‑e‑Sharif in northern Afghanistan, on what was once the Silk Road. It is regarded as the cradle of Iranian civilisation and has been an important pilgrimage site from time immemorial. 

Over the course of its history, Balkh has been a spiritual centre of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam respectively. It served as one of Alexander the Great’s northernmost bases from 329 to 327 B.C. It was completely destroyed by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220 and only rebuilt in the fifteenth century under Timurid rule. However, the town’s significance continued to decline, not least as a result of the provincial government’s move to Mazar‑e‑Sharif in 1866.

Extensive restoration

In addition to supporting restoration and stabilisation work on important buildings such as the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine, the Dehdadi Mosque, the Sudhan Qoli Madrassa Gate, Abu Zaidan Mosque and minaret, and Mir Rusedar and Khvajeh Nizamuddin shrines, the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office is funding the restoration of the buildings’ gardens and public spaces. The aim of this major project is to improve local residents’ living conditions and infrastructure in the long term by constructing infrastructure such as roads, sewage systems and waste disposal systems. 

Interior of the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine.
Interior of the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine.
© AKTC

 

Close involvement of the population

A further part of the project involves training programmes in traditional crafts such as carpentry, bricklaying and the manufacture of glazed tiles. Involving the local population and administration closely at all levels creates cultural identification with the local historical heritage and increases the sense of responsibility for this identity. The project is a good example of how cultural preservation can be achieved in harmony with economic development, modern urban planning and the needs of the local population.

At the suggestion of the Afghan Government, Balkh old town was added to UNESCO’s Tentative List of World Cultural Heritage in 2004.

Project promoted by / SourceCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Borobudur - A Detail of a Relief

Borobudur – A World Cultural Heritage Site at Risk (Central Java, Indonesia)

On 26 October 2010, Mount Merapi, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, became active again. It erupted on 5 November, causing extensive damage. Borobudur, which has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1991, was completely covered by a layer of volcanic ash. Cleaning work was undertaken immediately, and also received funding from Germany. However, the question subsequently arose of how harmful the volcanic ash was for the precious reliefs. In order to answer this and other questions, the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office has been funding a UNESCO stone conservation research project since 2011, which is being carried out in cooperation with the Borobudur Conservation Office (BCO) and the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

Borobudur Temple was built under the Sailendra dynasty during the eighth and ninth centuries. Its design and stone reliefs make it one of the most impressive World Heritage sites. Six square terraces with 1460 reliefs depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology, niches with countless sculptures of the seated Buddha, a further 72 statues of the Buddha in bell-shaped stupas on circular terraces, and the main temple at the top of the monument were built in the fertile Kedu Plain, the Garden of Java. The foundation, a natural hill formed by aggradation, already proved to be unstable at the beginning of construction work. The volcanic building stones andesite and basalt were not extracted from quarries, but rather from the rivers.

The first large-scale restoration project was carried out between 1907 and 1911 and coordinated by Theodore van Erp. The walls were at risk of collapsing, and water was shooting out of the relief walls. During the restoration, the walls were stabilised and the drainage system was improved. The next major restoration phase took place between 1973 and 1983. This UNESCO project was run by Caesar Voute from the Netherlands. All of the relief walls and galleries were dismantled and rebuilt (anastylosis), while stabilising concrete platforms and an internal drainage system were integrated into the monument.

The complex internal drainage system created new problems. The magnificent reliefs remain exposed to destructive moisture penetration and frequent leaks. Another threat to the reliefs is posed by ongoing crust formation and flaking on the stones, as well as by salts that damage the structure. The great range of features in the building stones mean that the degree of damage varies among the reliefs.

Apart from providing scientific documentation and analysis of the weathering process, experts are developing a wide range of methods and materials to conserve the reliefs. As part of the cooperation, the BCO’s researchers and restorers are receiving further training in modern analysis and conservation techniques.

Project: Prof. Hans Leisen and Dr. Esther von Plehwe-Leisen, Project managers, Cologne University of Applied Sciences

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The palace’s interior courtyard with the Tusa Hiti fountain.

Restoration of Patan Royal Palace (Patan, Nepal)

The Kathmandu Valley in Nepal boasts no fewer than seven World Heritage sites. One of them is Patan Royal Palace along with the temples in the palace complex. Following the two earthquakes in April and May 2015, the Federal Foreign Office, which has been committed to the preservation of this cultural heritage site for years, joined with the Gerda Henkel Foundation to launch a joint initiative to rebuild damaged cultural property in Nepal.

Since 2008, the Federal Foreign Office has provided a total of 250,000 euros for the preservation of the palace and the temples in the complex. For example, in various stages, the fountain in the south courtyard, Sundari Chowk, and the Bhandarkal water tank were restored, followed by the building’s south wing and the rear section of Sundari Chowk. When Nepal was hit by a severe earthquake in April 2015, the restored wings of the square courtyard stayed standing, but virtually the whole east wing caved in.  

Only the ground-floor arcade remained. But work to rebuild the east wing started quickly, in the autumn of 2015, again with support from the Federal Foreign Office.

Structural elements which were salvaged are being used in the restoration

All the beautifully carved wooden elements rescued from the ruins, as well as the tiles which were recovered, are being used to help rebuild the courtyard’s façade. This is possible thanks to the traditional construction techniques using clay mortar, especially as the masons and carpenters are the descendants of those who created this architecture back in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

The upper storey of the main courtyard building has been home to the “Architecture Galleries” museum of architecture since 2013. This is open to the public as part of Patan Museum, which was established in 1997. When work on the east wing is finished, Sundari Chowk will complete the museum in January 2017. The restoration, reconstruction and conversion work gives an immediate insight into a multifaceted palace complex which contributes hugely to the identity of the Kathmandu-Patan metropolis and is thus a symbol of the area’s rich architectural heritage. 

Responsibility for implementing the work lies with the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, which has saved and restored numerous buildings in Kathmandu and Patan since 1992. Between 2016 and 2018, with help from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Krishna temple will be repaired and the collapsed Hari Shankar temple rebuilt. 

Project promoted by / SourceCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

 

The Great Hall of Karakorum (Mongolia)

By reconstructing and safeguarding elements of a monumental Buddhist temple dating from the 13th century, research findings can now be presented for the first time on the site of the former Mon- golian capital of Karakorum, where they were discovered.

Karakorum is located around 300 kilometres west of Ulan Bator in the Central Mongolian grass steppe. For a short time during the 13th century, the city was the capital of the Mongol Empire. It served as a hub for the Mongol Empire’s tribes and a cosmopolitan meeting place for people from a very wide range of nations and religions. Mongolians still regard Karakorum as a key site for the country’s history and identity, as well as the nucleus and birthplace of the Mongolian nation.

Restoration work.
Restoration work. © DAI

 

It is almost impossible for contemporary visitors to the city founded under Genghis Khan to imagine the dramatic history that played out beneath the uneven terrain to the north of the Erdene Zuu monastery, which dates from the Modern era.

Since 2000, German and Mongolian archaeologists have been working together to research the history of the city of Karakorum. In addition to excavations in the city centre, they primarily concentrated on a detailed examination of the Great Hall in south-west Karakorum.

As the extensive excavations revealed, this was a square Buddhist temple whose walls were around 40 metres long. The magnificent hall designed in the Chinese style rose up from a two-metre-high, artificially stacked platform and was supported by 64 wooden columns on plinths in eight rows of eight. A stupa building in the centre and the division of the interior space into coloured flooring segments clearly demonstrate the mandala concept. The lotus thrones with the remains of large Buddhist sculptures lend weight to this interpretation.

The Great Hall of Karakorum; detail of the digital reconstruction.
The Great Hall of Karakorum; detail of the digital reconstruction. © artefacts Berlin

 

Although large parts of the building’s architecture have not survived, the high platform made of artificial layers of earth, on which the temple originally rested, is still recognisable today.

In order to counteract the constant threat of erosion and the prevailing adverse weather conditions in Mongolia, extensive protection measures have been in place since 2013 as part of a conservation project. These include rebuilding the wall that originally surrounded the platform, extensively safeguarding the platform surface, uncovering the remaining plinths, and erecting staircases that give visitors access to the platform.

Erdene Zuu monastery close to the excavation site
Erdene Zuu monastery close to the excavation site.

 

By protecting and partially reconstructing the monumental temple, episodes from the past which had a significant impact on modern Mongolia can be made accessible to a broad audience for the first time as part of the German-Mongolian research project.

Project: Dr. Christina Franken, Project Manager, German Archaeological Institute

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Mughal Tomb Chaunsath Khamba (New Delhi, India)

The restoration of Chaunsath Khambha, a Mughal mausoleum dating back to the early 17th century, was carried out between 2010 and 2014. The project was part of the Urban Renewal project run by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in the historic Nizamuddin quarter, where Humayun’s Tomb – a World Heritage site – is also to be found. For this unique project, the 25 marble domes in the tomb were removed and put back together by hand to replace centuries-old damaged iron dowels.

Chaunsath Khambha was built in 1623–4 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The name reflects the tomb’s architecture: chaunsath (64) stands for the tomb’s 64 marble pillars (khambha). The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely out of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure.

The marble blocks of the 25 domes are linked to one another and embedded in the brick masonry above the domes with iron dowels. The rain water that had collected on the roof over the centuries had severely corroded the iron dowels. This led to them bursting through the masonry in all parts of the mausoleum – domes, arches, façade and even the columns. The mausoleum’s entire structure was thus in jeopardy.

Chaunsath Khambha was built in 1623–4 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The name reflects the tomb’s architecture: chaunsath (64) stands for the tomb’s 64 marble pillars (khambha). The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely out of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure.

The marble blocks of the 25 domes are linked to one another and embedded in the brick masonry above the domes with iron dowels. The rain water that had collected on the roof over the centuries had severely corroded the iron dowels. This led to them bursting through the masonry in all parts of the mausoleum – domes, arches, façade and even the columns. The mausoleum’s entire structure was thus in jeopardy.

unique architectural design and construction of Chaunsath Khambha as well as the fact that each stone was unique in shape and size, it was agreed that all original stones would be retained. To this end, each of the 25 domes had to be dismantled in order to remove the damaged iron dowels. Such an effort had never been undertaken before anywhere in the world.

Once each stone had been numbered and catalogued, the individual marble blocks were dismantled and reassembled on the floor. The iron dowels were removed and cracks were filled using precisely-fitting stones. It took the stonecutters eight months to successfully repair the first dome using traditional building techniques – thus establishing the methodology for repairing the rest of the mausoleum. This allowed urgently needed repairs to the roof to be taken in hand.

The repairs to the domes were coupled with repairs to the 35cm thick arch stones and the severely damaged diamond-shaped pendentives which support the marble domes. All in all, the repair of the 25 domes has taken almost four years, which amounted to more than 25,000 days of work for the stone craftsmen.

Project: Ratish Nanda, Programme Director at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office