Replica of the famous Indian Sanchi Gate in Berlin in a combination use of 3D scanning, CNC technology and craftsmanship

Replica of the Sanchi Gate in Berlin. Photos: Peter Becker

The sandstone artwork next to the new Berlin Palace is another example of new technology-based business for the stone sector

In combination with 3D scanning, milling with a robotic arm and final fin, fishing work by stonemasons, stonework is a promising business area for the natural stone sector. We had presented some examples of this fledgling field of work, and now a spectacular project has been added from Berlin: there, a Sanchi gate from India was molded in sandstone and set up next to the Humboldt Forum in the city center.

One of the most important testimonies of early Indian art was created here as a replica with the help of the most modern technology. Although still very new, the way it was made has already received the highest praise: the copy was “created in a phenomenally interesting process,“ said the critic of the local radio station and added: “Something really great comes out of it.“

The gate consists of two vertical pillars and three crossbeams at the top. It is a good 10 m high and 3 m wide. The original is a Unesco World Heritage Site and stands in a Buddhist temple complex (stupa) in the town of Sanchi in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. A stupa is a type of round mound inside which relics and reliquaries of saints are kept.

Four gates provide access from its cardinal points, one of which is the one now next to the new palace in Berlin. It already fascinated the British colonial masters: they brought a plaster copy of it to London, from where a copy came to the Berlin Ethnological Museum in 1886. Later, a replica in cast stone was created for the exterior of the Berlin-Dahlem museums.

The new cast was made after the plaster copy in the Ethnological Museum, preserved in the Berlin depots.

Replica of the Sanchi Gate in Berlin.Replica of the Sanchi Gate in Berlin.

The more than one hundred figures that decorate the pillars and architraves attest to an incredible wealth of detail and the highest level of artistry. They tell episodes from the life of Buddha, show religious symbols, depictions of erotic-looking lucky genii or, of elephants, lions, or peacocks in great festivity.

Buddha himself is represented only by symbols, such as a throne under a tree or footprints. Only later did it become common to depict the god.

The new work of art next to Berlin’s Humboldt Forum is made of natural stone, just like the original. This time it is reddish Main sandstone Germany, which is very close to the original material. It was supplied by the company Bamberger Natursteinwerk, which had also played a leading role in the reconstruction of the baroque stone facades at the new palace.

SAN Reconstruction Sanchi¬ Gate (Detail). Source: Humboldt Forum

Nina Graser, the company’s head of communications, gives a few details of the work for the Sanchi gate: “We made 104 scans and transferred their images to 30 massive individual parts, which were used to assemble the new gate on site.“

With the scanner, she said, they were able to scan even the details. For the final touches on the approximately 150 t of stone, 2 stonemasons from India had come to Germany especially, who conversely also got to know German culture in the company’s apartment. Ten stonemasons from Germany added their handwork over a longer time.

The Indian ambassador had also come to the press presentation in Berlin and was almost exuberant to see a testimony of the native culture between the baroque castle and the opposite Berlin cathedral. In the radio interview, he raised the replica to a political level: the boulevard Unter den Linden framed between the Brandenburg Gate and this gate from Asia, and it proclaims the message of the Buddha, namely, to live in peace and harmony with each other and with nature.

Humboldt Forum

Bamberger Natursteinwerk

Radio report

Eastern gate of the Sanchi Stupa. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Ismoon, CC BY-SA 4.0

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(30.01.2023, USA: 01.30.2023)