Who and why built these giant statues

(ORDO NEWS) — Once upon a time, skyscrapers became a symbol of the growing technological power of the New World, and at the same time evidence of the high cost of land in Manhattan and other downtowns of large American cities.

Then the fashion for giant buildings shifted geographically, and now buildings are growing closer to the sky in the rich East. Something similar happened in modern times with giant statues.

Today it is hard to imagine that the Greeks built something similar to the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Egyptians are not up to the sphinxes. But the list of the most grandiose sculptures in the world is still confidently headed by the statue of Vallabhai Patel in the Indian state of Gujarat.

240 meters high including the pedestal! And in 1886, the tallest building in New York was not skyscrapers, but the world-famous Statue of Liberty, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, who had yet to build his tower.

Greenish due to oxidized copper shell, it rests on a massive reinforced concrete pedestal lined with marble, and hides a support column and an external frame made of prefabricated structures – the material for them was puddling iron.

Who and why built these giant statues 2Statue of Christ the King, Swiebodzin, Poland. The figure does not belong to the champions in height (only 33 m), but for Europe this is a notable achievement. In the photo – a head in a crown, not yet mounted on a figure

Soviet record

Almost 80 years had to pass before the statue at the entrance to New York Harbor had a serious competitor. The figure “Motherland Calls” on Mamayev Kurgan and without a pedestal has a height of 85 m.

For the sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich, the outstanding domestic architect Nikolai Nikitin, known primarily as the builder of the Ostankino TV tower, became his “Gustave Eiffel”. If we take into account that the statue in memory of the Battle of Stalingrad was built of prestressed concrete, then the relationship with the Moscow tower becomes obvious.

Inside the “Motherland” are hollow concrete sections, pulled together by 99 metal cables. The outer contours of the figure are also made of concrete, and only the sword is made of steel. In 1967, when the fashion for huge statues had not yet spread around the world

Who and why built these giant statues 3European delights, Scotland. The sculptural group “Kelpie” of two horse heads, created by the Scot Andy Scott, is impressive in size, but interesting as an art object

Religion and politics

But times have changed, and today the Far East and India are confidently leading in the ranking of mega sculptures. Among the five statues above 100 m are three statues of Buddha – Chinese, Japanese and Myanmar among them – and the heads of the first Chinese emperors Yang-di and Huang-di.

Below in the list, the Buddhas continue with an unexpected interspersing (the total eighth place) of Moscow Peter I, ruling the ship somewhere in the upper reaches of the Moscow River.

Perhaps, as in the case of skyscrapers, the oil-bearing Arab East would also join this race of megalomania, but Islam forbids images of people.

Most of the new mega statues were built in the 90s of the past and especially in the zero years of the current century. The main inspiration for these creations was religion and partly politics.

In addition to the Buddha, the sculptors of the Celestial Empire are inspired by the image of Mao Zedong, the founder of Red China, and although in today’s society the figure of Mao is perceived ambiguously, no one has canceled the reverence towards the most famous Chinese communist.

Near the city of Changsha in Mao’s native province of Hunan, it was decided to erect a giant head of the former head of the PRC, 32 meters high.

It was decided to portray Mao as young, with flowing hair. Finished in 2009, this romantic sculpture is made from 8,000 red granite blocks that surround a reinforced concrete frame that looks like a high-rise building.

Naturally, in order to carry granite, the frame must be massive, but it is worth noting that this technology is not quite typical for giant figures of the latest time. Numerous Buddhas are built mainly according to technology.

Who and why built these giant statues 4Sad fate, China. The comical sculpture of a gilded Mao Zedong, which became a graphic meme on the Internet, was never destined to be completed. The Chinese authorities decided to demolish it quickly

Buddha in a tube

There is a detailed story about how back in the late 1980s, not the tallest Buddha of the current (only 30 m in height) was designed and built for installation on Lantau Island, which is part of Hong Kong. The initiator of the creation of the attraction was the local Po Lin Monastery, and it was originally assumed that the Buddha would be concrete.

But, considering the weight of the structure, the designers decided to abandon concrete in favor of bronze. Before turning the figure “in metal”, they created a reduced plaster sketch in the ratio of 1:5, which was reworked several times. In addition, the Beijing Institute of Aerodynamics built a special model of the future sculpture, which was blown in a wind tunnel.

This was done in order to take into account wind loads during the construction of the figure. When all the parts have been made in mainland China factory, test assembly began: the lower middle and upper parts of the sculpture were assembled separately.

So it was possible to accurately fit all the details. Finally, all the elements of the figure were sent by sea to Lantau Island, where the installation began on Mount Muk Yu.

First, a steel frame was erected, on which bronze profiles were then hung. The huge face of the Buddha, for aesthetic reasons, could not bear any traces of joints, and therefore it was made entirely of bronze. In this form, it did not fit into the road dimensions, and the face had to be delivered to the mountain on a special auto platform.

The huge face of the Buddha, for aesthetic reasons, could not bear any traces of joints, and therefore it was made entirely of bronze. In this form, it did not fit into the road dimensions, and the face had to be delivered to the mountain on a special auto platform.

The huge face of the Buddha, for aesthetic reasons, could not bear any traces of joints, and therefore it was made entirely of bronze. In this form, it did not fit into the road dimensions, and the face had to be delivered to the mountain on a special auto platform.

Who and why built these giant statues 5Mao is the head! China. Here Mao is young and romantic, but at the same time huge and massive. Thousands of blocks of granite were hung on a concrete frame resembling a multi-storey building

Are they worth spending money on?

Surely, the creators of a new potential record holder will face much more complex engineering problems. In India, the Buddha is not so popular – at one time Buddhism was almost completely supplanted by Hinduism there, and the sculpture, which will rise to 182 meters, will be dedicated to a politician.

The statue of Unity will embody the image of one of the leaders of the Indian National Congress, the fighter for independence, Vallabhai Patel. The figure was installed in the center of an artificial lake near the city of Vardodara in the state of Gujarat.

The total height of the structure, together with the pedestal, is 240 m. The construction used 5,700 tons of steel frame elements, 18,500 tons of iron reinforcement, 75,000 m 3 of concrete and 22,500 tons of bronze sheet, which, in fact, forms the appearance of the statue.

Who and why built these giant statues 6The diagram shows the comparative sizes of the future Statue of Unity, the Statue of Liberty, the Motherland and Christ the Redeemer from Rio de Janeiro

Construction began on October 31, 2014. Financing took place in the form of a public-private partnership, donations are collected, and even a collection of scrap metal was announced, which, after being melted down, is used, if not in the statue itself, then in some auxiliary structures, for example, when building a bridge leading to the figure.

However, in India, a country with a predominantly poor population, not everyone shared the enthusiasm for the appropriateness of a super-expensive and purely image project.

An indicative story in this respect happened all in the same China, where in the province of Henan they started the construction of a 36-meter statue of Mao Zedong. In this version, Mao did not look at all as romantic as in the already mentioned statue.

Here they decided to depict him as a seated elderly party official, who is probably already at the top of his career. Color gave the sculpture a special comedy – Mao turned out to be gilded. The photo of the almost completed figure went around the World Wide Web and caused a lot of sharp remarks.

They concerned both a peculiar design and, in general, the need to spend half a million dollars, which would be quite useful for something more useful in this poor, agrarian part of China, which, by the way, suffered greatly during the years of Maoist experiments as part of the Great Leap Forward. The result was quick and unexpected.

The local Chinese authorities ordered the demolition of this masterpiece of monumental art and quickly sent the necessary equipment. The official explanation for these actions was given in the spirit that all the necessary permits had not been obtained for the construction of the Mao monument.

Who knows, perhaps this case will be the first evidence that in China the fashion for mega-sculptures will one day pass and be replaced by a more pragmatic approach to monumentalism.


Contact us: [email protected]

Our Standards, Terms of Use: Standard Terms And Conditions.