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Since December 2022, the copy of an ancient Indian gateway enriches the outdoor space on the Lustgarten side of the Humboldt Forum: on a 1 : 1 scale, it shows the famous East Gate of the Great Stupa of Sanchi. In India, the gate belongs to one of the oldest and most important preserved Buddhist sanctuaries and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The copy sets a counterpoint to the reconstructed baroque facades and makes visible from the outside, what the Humboldt Forum stands for: the diversity of the world in the centre of Berlin.


The new copy of 2022 made of natural stone was enabled thanks to the preserved old plaster moulds, held in the depot of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. These were 3D
scanned, before being pre-milled with the help of CAD technology and modern robots. In a next step, the sculptural work was manually handcrafted, with the help of enlarged and detailed photos of the gate in Dahlem, as well as in comparison to the original copies from the 19th century.


Intricate scenes can be discovered on the nearly 10-metre-high gate: episodes from the life of Buddha, legends of pilgrimage sites, framed by fortune geniusses, elephants and peacocks. Figurative depictions of Buddha however cannot be found. Back then, Buddha was represented in imagery by way of symbols, such as an empty throne or footprints. The original gate dates from the 1st century and still serves as one of four entrances to the “Great Stupa”. A stupa is a hemispherically “burial” mound, inside which relics of the Buddha and of Buddhist saints, considered benedictory, are kept.
A plaster cast of the original gate, purchased from London, was on display in the entrance hall of the Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde Berlin from 1886. A cast of this fortunately preserved copy was made of artificial stone in 1970 and placed in the garden of the Museum für Indische Kunst in Berlin-Dahlem. Some 50 years later, a newly custom-built copy made of red sandstone, now hints to the exhibitions of the Ethnologisches Museum and Museum für Asiatische Kunst of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin inside the Humboldt Forum.

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