Borobudur Buddha head

06.24.2010 - By A History of the World in 100 Objects

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A history of the World in one hundred objects arrives on the Indonesian island of Java. This is the series that offers a new history of humanity through the individual objects that time has left behind. These items are all in the British Museum and the series is presented by the museum's director, Neil MacGregor. Throughout this week Neil is tracing the great arcs of trade linking Asia, Europe and Africa around a thousand years ago. Today he has chosen a stone head of the Buddha that comes from one of the world's greatest monuments, the giant Buddhist stupa of Borobudur. Borobudur rises from a volcanic plain in the middle of Java, built from one and a half million blocks of stone and devised as an architectural aid to spiritual practice. Neil MacGregor reports from the various levels of Borobudur and describes the trade routes that brought Buddhism to South East Asia. He also explores the impact the discovery of Borobodur had on the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles and his ideas about the importance of Javanese civilization. The anthropologist Nigel Barley celebrates the life and work of Stamford Raffles while the writer and Buddhist teacher Stephen Batchelor sums up the spiritual significance of Borobudur

Producer: Anthony Denselow

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