Islamabad Museum displays rare Buddha statue

Islamabad Museum displays rare Buddha statue

Sculpture from period between 3rd and 4th century AD was discovered in 1960s

Islamabad: The Islamabad Museum has put on display a rare statue of Buddha’s head after retrieving it from its reserves where it was locked for decades, according to a media report on Sunday.

The sculpture, from the period between the 3rd and the 4th century AD, was discovered by the first Italian archaeological mission in Pakistan that was led by Giuseppe Tucci in the Swat Valley area, the Dawn reported.

The artefact was excavated in the 1960s and it was last displayed in a museum in 1997.

“It is extremely rare to find Buddha’s statues made of stucco from Swat. The Swat Valley is predominantly home to stone sculptures,” Islamabad Museum Director Dr Abdul Gafoor Lone said.

He said stucco sculptures of Buddha are frequently found in Taxila and Afghanistan.

What also makes the Buddha head sculpture unique is its sharp, feminine features, with long hair brushed back and wrapped over and around a halo and slanted, feline eyes.

Lone said Buddha is commonly seen wearing his hair in a bun, with straight eyes.

Belonging to the Kushan period, the extraordinary sculpture was discovered from one of the earliest Buddhist Stupa Buddhkara I from the 3rd century BC, a contemporary of the World Heritage Site Dharma Rajika in Taxila.

Another three terracotta heads of Buddha have also been pulled out of the museum’s reserves and put on display.

The three rare artefacts are from the 2nd to 3rd century AD. They were excavated by British archaeologist Sir John Marshal.

Special attention was given to sculpting the heads of Buddha compared to the rest of the body, and finer material was used as well.

“When the White Huns burnt down Buddhist monasteries and stupas, heads were buried and preserved under the collapsed roofs. The bodies, which were not given much attention, deteriorated and were destroyed over the centuries. This is why the heads of the Buddha have survived to this date,” Lone said.

The White Huns were a race of largely nomadic peoples who were a part of the Hunnic tribes of Central Asia. They ruled over an expansive area stretching from the Central Asian lands all the way to the Western Indian Subcontinent during the 5th to 8th centuries.

The Italian archaeologists also excavated a schist stone panel from the Swat Valley.

Lone said the grey panel from the 2nd century AD “depicts a temple on fire, while Buddha is seen seated inside and the Kasyapa brothers are trying to put out the flames”.

The art piece symbolises Buddha’s triumph over the fire snake, he explained.

Myanmar Buddha statue donated to disaster-hit northeast Japan

A consecration ceremony was held Monday for a Buddha statue donated by Myanmar for victims of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan.

Monks from the Southeast Asian country, which also suffered damage from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, offered prayers in front of the 5-meter-high marble statue.

It was placed last month on a hill overlooking Shizugawa Bay in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture. The hill is in a forest park created by the operator of Minami Sanriku Hotel Kanyo to commemorate the disaster that left more than 15,000 people dead.

A Myanmar trading house gave the statue to the hotel operator, which had shown officials of the company around the disaster-hit area.

“While this may be minuscule for the rebuilding, I hope it will be a tourism resource to bring about exchanges between people,” said Maung Htet Myat Oo, the 52-year-old co-head of Tomosada International Trading Co.

“I’m full of emotion, seeing the Buddha statue installed in a place that looks over our community,” said Yasuhiro Abe, 56, president of the hotel operator Abecho Shoten Co.

Abe’s company is known for hosting bus tours around the disaster-stricken coastal area and keeping the remains of a tsunami-hit wedding center, where more than 300 people took refuge.

The highest Buddhist monastery in Eastern India

The monastery is named after Acharya Padmasambhava, who was born in Odisha and is believed to have spread Buddhism to Tibet in the 7th century
Paralakhemundi: Even though Lord Buddha had never stepped his foot in Odisha soil during his lifetime, the state has a rich heritage of Buddhism. In fact, Odisha is home to more than 200 Buddhist sites, scattered across its length and breadth.

Take an example of the ancient Padmasambhava Mahavihara monastery, situated in Jirang near Chandragiri in tribal-dominated Gajapati district. Reportedly, the height of the monastery is the highest in Eastern India.

The colony which houses the monastery is Buddha Vihar –the land of happiness and plenty— and the area is popularly known as a ‘mini Tibet’ in Odisha. It belongs to the Rigon Thubten Mindolling monastery that was part of the Tibetan settlement near Chandragiri. The monastery is named after Acharya Padmasambhava, who was born in Odisha and is believed to have spread Buddhism to Tibet in the 7th century.

Driving through the roads of Jirang, visitors are welcomed to the Buddha Vihar with Buddhist flags on both sides of the road. Inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 2010, it has been built as per the ‘Atanpuri style of Nalanda’ and in its assembly hall a 23-foot-high idol of Lord Buddha along with his two disciples has been installed.

On the right side of the Buddha’s idol is the 1000-armed and 1000-eyed Avalokiteswar. While on the left is the large idol of Guru Nangsi Zilnon. The five-storey monastery has its interiors richly decorated with traditional religious paintings of Tibetan culture. The 70-feet-high monastery can house over 200 Lamas.

Apparently, Jirang is considered one of the earliest Tibetan resettlement villages in the country; the Tibetans had arrived here May 1, 1963. Visitors can also experience maize cultivation in the village which is the main avocation of the Tibetans. Jirang can be approached by road through Berhampur.

There are several places in the state where Buddhism is still practiced today. According to the Buddhist scholars of Odisha from the Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, Biraja (modern Jajpur) was a sacred land of Buddha Padmaprabha and the cradle of ‘Mahayana’.

The presence of ‘Mahayana’ antiquities, stupas and relics in Jajpur district are a testimony to this. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited these Buddhist sites in Odisha in the 7th century and between 8th and 10th century.

The tantric form of ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism started during this period only. One of the most popular Buddhist destinations in Odisha is the Diamond Triangle comprising Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri in Jajpur district.

Notably, after the death of the Buddha, his followers were divided into two sects― ‘Hinayana’ and ‘Mahayana’. But now the latest Buddhist phase is ‘Vajrayana’ which is believed to have been originated from Odisha.

Andhra Pradesh Ancient Buddhist panels in Prakasam district left in ruins

They were found beneath the foundation of a temple at Chandavaram

First century Buddhist panels were found in utter neglect beneath the foundation of a medieval temple at Chandavaram village, near Kurichedu, in Prakasam district even as the world celebrated the ‘Heritage week’.

Basing on an information provided by a local historian Jyoti Chandramouli, Buddhist Archaeologist and CEO of Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravathi (CCVA) Sivanagireddy inspected the 2000-year-old antique panels in the remote village.

Four huge panels depicting the Buddhist symbols of vajrasana (the seat on which Siddhartha meditated), Bodhi tree(under which Siddhartha got enlightenment), Dharmachakra(Buddha setting the wheel of Dharma into motion) and a stupa (symbolic representation of Buddha attaining Mahaparinirvana) were used as the foundation course for the walls of Mahabaleswara temple in the village.
Amaravathi School of Art

Dr. Reddy said that these panels, measuring 6 ft in height, 2.5 ft in width and 8 inches in thickness, were encased in the stupa during the Satavahana times. He said the panels represent the early phase of world famous Amaravathi School of Art.

“It is high time the panels are removed by inserting iron girders, using latest technology, without causing damage to the temple structure. The cavity could be filled with concrete wall for safety purpose,” he suggested.

Dr. Reddy, along with Golla Narayanarao, president, Andhra Arts Academy and others sensitised the local people on the archaeological significance and historical importance of the Buddhist panels.

Pakistani PM positive about exhibiting ‘Fasting Buddha’ statue in Korea: Jogye order official

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) — Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reacted positively to the query from a South Korean Buddhist leader to display the “Fasting Buddha” statue, a key Gandhara art piece, in South Korea, an official of the Jogye Order said Wednesday.

Ven. Wonhaeng, the 36th President of Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, paid a courtesy call on the prime minster during his trip to Pakistan, according to the official.

The statue is currently at Lahore Museum in Pakistan.

“Fasting Buddha” statue at Lahore Museum in Pakistan (Yonhap)

Buddha relics from Sri Lanka to be enshrined at Bowonniwet Vihara temple

BANGKOK – The government would like to invite Buddhists in Thailand to pay their respects to the hair relics of the Lord Buddha at Bowonniwet Vihara temple in Bangkok from December 10, 2019, to January 10 next year.

The Head of the Buddha Relics Invitation Project, Adisak Panupong, and the President of the Do D Foundation, Danai Chanchaochai, announced that the Lord Buddha’s relics from Manelwatta temple in Sri Lanka will be exhibited at Bowonniwet Vihara temple to celebrate His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s coronation as well as the 266th anniversary of the establishment of Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka. The religious event will also mark over 700 years of relations between Thai and Sri Lankan Buddhists.

The relics will be open for the public to pay their respects for a total of 32 days, between December 10 and January 10 next year. People will be able to pay their respects in rounds each day. The first round will be at 6:30 a.m., the second at 10:30 a.m. and the third at 5 p.m. Sermons and teachings will also take place on Saturdays and religious holidays throughout the period. Those wishing to pay respects are asked to dress appropriately in all white.

Exhibition on ancient Buddha statues opens in HCM City

An exhibition featuring ancient Buddha statues which date back thousands of years has opened to the public at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts.

The exhibition features hundreds of Buddha statues made from various materials and dating back throughout history. Buddhism entered Vietnam about two thousand years ago. It can be said that Buddhism has contributed considerably to the rich and unique cultural heritage of Vietnam.

The collection by Ngo Muoi Thuong has many ancient Buddha statues dating back to feudal dynasties, converging the quintessence of sculpture.

The exhibition helps visitors understand more about the aesthetic values as well as Buddhist cultural influence in Vietnam.

The exhibition will run through November 21./.

Buddha statue, imported from Thailand, unveiled at Ghantasala village

The four-foot tall structure was imported from Thailand

Former Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad and Buddhist monk Dhante Dhamma Dhaja on Tuesday unveiled a golden statue of Dhyana Buddha on the campus of the Archaeological Survey of India’s museum at Ghantasala village in Krishna district.

The ASI Museum campus includes a Buddhist stupa, which is 30 km from Machilipatnam.

“The Dhyana Buddha statue, four feet in height, is gold-coloured and has been imported from Thailand to be installed at the Ghantasala Buddhist stupa, one of the sacred places for Buddhists in the State. We preferred the Thailand sculpture style for the Buddha statue due to its unique craft,” Mr. Dhante Dhamma told The Hindu. The statue has been unveiled after performing a ritual by offering lotus flowers. The Ghantasala villagers conserve the lotus flowers in the village pond. In Buddhism, the lotus is regarded as sacred, and symbolises purity of mind and body. Villagers joined the ritual and offered prayers under the aegis of Mr. Dhante Dhamma.

On the status of the ongoing project of developing a Buddhist vihar on the outskirts of Ghantasala village, Mr. Dhante Dhamma said that the construction of the 112-feet height of Buddha statue and the monastery was under progress. Mr. Buddha Prasad, along with village elders who are followers of Buddhism proponent Gorripati Ramakrishna discussed ways to promote the Buddhist site as a tourist attraction in Krishna district.

29-Meter-Tall Shakyamuni Buddha Sculpture Blown up in Jilin

Outdoor religious statues continue to be destryed across China, local officials in charge threated to be dismissed if they disobey the central government orders.

by Wang Anyang

In mid-June, a 29-meter-tall carving of Shakyamuni Buddha on a mountain in Fengman district of Jilin city in the northeastern province of Jilin was destroyed with explosives because local authorities claimed that it was “too tall.” The demolition was carried out with government officials present on site.

According to informed sources, it took eleven years to carve the Buddha, and it was in the process of being polished and gilded when it was blown up. The work, funded by an individual, cost about 3 million RMB (about $ 420,000).

The carved statue of Shakyamuni before and after it was blown up
The unfinished carving of Shakyamuni was blown up in mid-June.

Ahead of the demolition, officials proclaimed that all religious statues are being dismantled across the country, and no one can stop the process. They threatened to detain the funder of the carving if he resisted the demolition. A government insider revealed to Bitter Winter that had the statue not been destroyed, all local officials in charge were to be removed from their posts.

Over in the central province of Henan, government officials ordered to demolish a 10-meter-tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha outside Longxing Temple, located in a village of Mengjin county under the jurisdiction of Luoyang city. According to informed sources, local government executives were threatened by their higher-ups to leave office should they fail to demolish the statue within three days.

The demolition work took two days to complete, government-hired workers toiling non-stop on July 17 and 18. A village official said that all outdoor religious statues are being destroyed on the central government’s orders. “No one in China has greater power than Xi Jinping. Who dares resist him?” the official added.

According to some villagers, to protect the statue from demolition, the temple’s congregation covered it with sunshade nets, but this didn’t help to save it.

The Buddha statue in Longxing Temple was covered and later demolished
The Buddha statue in Longxing Temple was first covered and later demolished.

“There is nowhere to seek justice. It’s no different from the Cultural Revolution – all things related to Buddha are being torn down and destroyed,” a believer said helplessly. “The CCP fears that people will start worshiping Buddha and will not believe in the CCP anymore. If all people become religious, won’t it mean that the CCP is done for? That’s why these urgent orders to destroy all these icons have been given.”

Not only Buddhist statues are demolished; even the word “Buddha” in public is not allowed to exist. In spring this year, officials ordered to remove a stele with the Chinese word for “Buddha” outside a Buddhist temple in Lushuihe town of Fusong county, administered by Jilin’s Baishan city, claiming that “government regulations forbid open-air religious signs.” The stele that had been displayed for over ten years was left lying on the ground.

Excavated ancient Buddha statue being restored

The torso and head of a Buddha statue that was excavated by Apsara Authority’s archaeologists in the Tup Khang Lech temple area in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap are being kept in Nara Institute for restoration.

Nara Institute archaeologist Sok Keo Sovannara, who was completing repairs at the temple’s site, said on Tuesday that parts of the statue were discovered on October 24 and sent to the institute the same day.

“The ancient torso and head were discovered separately. They were estimated to have been made during the central era [1431-1863]. The cross-legged body was buried over one metre into the ground, whereas the head was found about three metres from the body,” he said.

Tup is a small temple area in Angkor Thom that is not of much interest to visitors because of its location in the forest, but is still significant for researchers.

It is the last temple built from sandstone in the 9th century as a dedication to Brahmanism. It was the idea of an uncle of King Yasovarman I. Not many people know of the temple,” Keo Sovannara said.

There are two temples in the heritage site, namely Tup Khang Lech (in the West) and Tup Khang Keut (in the East).

Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal said the statue was taken to Nara Institute for cleaning and repairs, and to be registered for research and study.

“The restoration works of the temple are near completion. However, [we] need to conduct more studies on certain parts of the structures and foundations. That is why we need to excavate, repair and conduct research,” he said.