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Shade shield for heritage sculptures

- Grille-glass case to let visitors enjoy stonecraft at original sites

Patna, Jan. 20: The art, culture and youth affairs department’s directorate of archaeology has decided to construct shades to help preserve old sculptures at their original sites.

Each of the sculptures would be kept inside a grille and glass case, allowing people to see it without touching. Sources said the directorate of archaeology’s decision to preserve sculptures at their original sites would help boost tourism in the locality concerned.

At present, if the directorate finds sculptures anywhere, it takes them away to different museums.

Atul Kumar Verma, director, archaeology, said the directorate of archaeology has identified some places where the shades would be constructed first.

“We have found beautiful sculptures of the Pal and Gupta periods from some districts. We have decided to construct shades at those places. Men Gram (Gaya), Bhelavar (Jehanabad), Barah Harnaut (Nalanda), Sahiyar, Simri, Chandi and Tulsigarh (Nalanda), Dev Varunark and Tarari (Bhojpur) are some of those.”

Verma added that the directorate would spend around Rs 2 crore to erect the shades and Bihar Virasat Samiti would do the job with the assistance of the directorate.

“This step would help prevent the theft of sculptures and ensure that they are in good condition. When we find sculptures in a large number at a site, we usually keep them in the museum. But villagers at many places where we have discovered sculptures have resisted our bid to shift the sculptures to the museum. In some cases, we have succeeded in shifting the sculptures to the museum but in others, we were not and the sculptures were left in the open, increasing the chances of theft and to the elements of nature. In a few cases, we have found that villagers start worshipping sculptures because they are related to some deities. They start pouring ghee, milk and other puja materials near the sculptures, which badly affects them,” said S.K. Jha, senior technical assistant, directorate of archaeology.

“If fragments of a temple such as the pinnacle are found from the site, they would be preserved in the shade. This would make the site more attractive,” he said.

“We have got some beautiful stone sculptures of the Pal and Gupta period from sites. Ninety per cent of the sculptures found at these sites date back to the Pal period. The basalt sculptures of the Pal period have unique features. They have beautiful back slab on which beautiful designs have been carved. The sandstone sculptures we found at these sites have great features. The curves in the sculptures of female deities are attractive,” said Jha.