The past tragedy of history can yet be the menace of today. So it is with Cambodia's old civil war, which resulted in one of modern history's most horrific genocides, and left the country littered with land mines that are still killing and maiming today, even decades after the war ended. That's the background behind the Purple Buddha Project, a crowd-funding initiative that hopes to upcycle these deadly weapons into jewelry, in a fair trade model that would train local artisans in a sustainable skill.
The young man behind Purple Buddha is Forrest Curran, who sees the project as a act of cooperation between different cultures and faiths, to collectively confront this terrible legacy of violence, and to transmute it into something positive and hopeful. Here's the gist from Purple Buddha's Kickstarter page:
Cambodia today not only is one of the most bombed countries in the history of mankind, but also has the largest population of Amputees in the World, where 30% of the UXO [un-exploded ordinances] related injuries and deaths involve children. [..]
Every jewelry piece is constructed from UXO, bomb, bullet, and plane parts from remains of conflict in the countries of Cambodia and Laos. This is done through local associations that employ artisans through fair-wage. The local association also oversees training of a viable and transferable skill.
If funded, the proceeds will go to purchasing a professional engraving machine to expand Purple Buddha's production, which hopes to include new styles of jewelry, all made with recycled metals of war. One of the the most interesting aspects of Purple Buddha's future collection is the fact that other materials will be sourced from other famous symbols of war, like the Berlin Wall, and copper pennies from imperialist institutions like the British East India Company, and even meteorites. But the cornerstone of the collection is certainly the Buddhist-style prayer bead bracelets.
The idea behind the project is to not only create something new and beautiful out of conflict, but to also continue pushing for the elimination of mines; for every piece of jewelry purchased, Purple Buddha will donate to organizations that will clear the countries of Laos and Cambodia of this hidden scourge. For more information or to pledge your support for the project, check out the Purple Buddha website and its Kickstarter page.