The last photograph of a stolen statue
Bhairab or Bhairava is a fierce and frighting Hindu god that is a manifestation of Shiva. Bhairab is also known as a protector (especially of women). In Nepal you will come across many Bhairab statues in small temples and large alike.
Due to his stature many of Bhairabs statues are made from gold, including the one in this photograph which is 1.6 feet and gold plated and weighs 6 kilos. Due to their historic value, rarity and composition they are a target for theft. Sadly this Bhairab statue was stolen in December 2015 (source) and was never recovered.
The story behind this photograph
Following the 2015 Earthquake in Nepal I set about documenting and digitally reconstructing the remaining damaged and undamaged temples in Nepal. Up until now the vast majority had not been documented let alone blueprinted.
I visited Thimi in the Kathmandu Valley to do a field report on digitally preserving the temples there in October 2015. I took the above photograph as part of the survey.
Two month later there was a news report about the stolen statue in Thimi just showing the empty shrine. I questioned them why the actual photograph of the statue was not used in the report so people could at least know what it looked like. They couldn’t because nobody in the Department of Archeology had one. The department did not even know it exisited!
I checked back on my own database and found that I had what is the last and quite possibly only photograph of the Bhairab statue in Thimi. assumed wrongly that at least the precious gold statues inside many of the temples would have been cataloged.
Returning to Thimi was a priority as I knew there were many more statues and monuments there. We set about digitally preserving the rest of Thimi’s monuments and temples and in doing so learned there is on average a part of Thimi’s heritage stolen once every three months.
Through the Digital Archeology Foundation we’ve been the first to create 3D replications of many of Nepal’s cultural heritage including in Thimi. We’ve brought awareness, technology, capability and motivation to Nepal that has resulted in protecting, preserving and documenting much of it’s history.
Do take some time to read more about the Digital Archeology Foundation
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