Buddha statue that looks like former dictator Than Shwe to be ‘fixed’ or removed from Shwedagon pagoda

Chinese president Xi Jinping is among those who have visited the statue

A seated Buddha statue that former dictator Than Shwe had carved in his image will be changed or removed as part of a government crackdown on depictions of the holy figure deemed inappropriate.

The statue, whose wide, stern facial features resemble the retired general’s, was erected in 1999 at Shwedagon pagoda, and is on a list of unorthodox statues drawn up by the religious affairs ministry.

“We will redo Buddha statues that go against the scriptures, and will remove them if they can’t be fixed,” the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, Zarni Win, told Myanmar Now.

Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping are among those who have paid respects at the statue during visits to Yangon.

International guests pay respects to the jade Buddha

International guests pay respects to the jade Buddha

It is sculpted out of white jade stone mined from Lone Khin township in Hpakant, weighs 324kg and is adorned with 91 rubies, nine diamonds and 2.5kg of gold, according to its descriptive plaque.

Shwedagon pagoda’s board of trustees said they were not aware of the decision about the statue.

“We have not received any letter from the ministry of religious affairs,” board member Aye Tun told Myanmar Now.

The Buddha shares the former dictator’s broad, stern features (Photo- Myanmar Now)

The Buddha shares the former dictator’s broad, stern features (Photo- Myanmar Now)

Zarni Win said the issue would need to be handled delicately and that he could not disclose all the details. “Since the ministry cannot act in haste, we would like to request the public to be patient and understanding,” he said.

Earlier this week dozens of Buddha statues donated by senior military figures were removed from a monastery in Naypyitaw and their bizarre behind-the-back hand gestures raised eyebrows.

The figures were apparently a superstitious bid to keep the military in power. Than Shwe often performed superstitious rituals to maintain his power and followed the advice of astrologers and shamans, according to the local writer Tin Nyunt.

An antique vase that was bought for just £45 has sold for £7million

A vase has sold for £7million at auction after an elderly woman inherited it.

One woman’s rare Chinese vase sold for a whopping £7million at a recent auction.

For the last 50 years, the valuable object had been collecting dust in the elderly woman’s remote country house after she inherited it.

But while it was once purchased around $56 (or £45), the vase just sold for 70.406 million Hong Kong dollars, or about £7.2million.

According to international auction house Sotheby’s, the vase was rediscovered by Amsterdam-based art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal, who was assessing one of his clients’ art collection in 2019.
This 18th century vase sold for more than £7million
This 18th century vase sold for more than £7million. Picture: Getty Images

Here he found the extremely valuable Harry Garner Reticulated Vase hiding in a corner of her house.

In a video posted on the auction house’s YouTube channel, van Rosenthal revealed the moment he spotted the artwork.

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He said: “We reached a room with a number of Chinese works of art inherited many years ago. Her four cats walked around freely among these. She pointed out a … partly gilded Chinese vase on a cupboard — a cherished object which she knew to be something special and valuable.”

While Van Rosenthal admitted he’s not an expert in Chinese works of art, he noticed that it was ‘no ordinary Chinese vase’ and sent photos to Nicholas Chow who is the chairman of Sotheby’s Asia.

When Mr Chow then visited the woman’s home, he confirmed that the vase could be worth millions.

According to the auction house, records for the vase suggest it was made specifically for the Qianlong Emperor and was once displayed in the Palace of Celestial Purity in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

The vase later belonged to Sir Harry M. Garner and Henry M. Knight, who were two major collectors of Chinese art and remained in the family for more than sixty years.

Sotheby’s describes the vase as “a lost masterpiece of Chinese porcelain” which reflects “the culmination of centuries of ingenuity in Chinese crafts.”

The pattern on the porcelain features archaic bronzes and a Rococo flower design, as well as interlaced dragons, mixed with bird and bat-like motifs.

Qingzhou’s mysterious Buddhas

It might be one of the most exciting archeological finds of 20th century China. More than 400 delicate Buddha statues, carved between the 5th and 6th centuries, had slept underground for almost 2,000 years until they were unearthed by accident in the small, quiet city of Qingzhou, Shandong Province, in 1996.

A bulldozer driver felt the school playground construction site surface he was working on was too hard to advance. He stepped out of his cab to take a closer look and was stunned to discover a Buddha’s head when he raked away the earth to see what was stopping his dig.

The excavation went on for seven days and nights until all the Buddhas were revealed in a cellar, 8.6 meters long by 6.7 meters wide.

“I remember there was a Buddha, lying intact in the dust, so gorgeous and sacred,” said Xia Mingcai, former deputy director of Qingzhou Museum, who joined the excavation team in 1996. “People often say Venus is beautiful, but I think the lying Buddha is way more beautiful.”

Located in the Shandong Peninsula, Qingzhou has a history of more than 7,000 years and was one of the nine “magic lands” (zhou) in ancient China.

Before the cellar was discovered, elderly locals knew that there was an ancient temple, called Longxing Temple, according to the county annals. It had a large monastery around AD 500 and had been prosperous for more than 800 years. But then the temple disappeared around AD 1300 without any record.

More than 400 Buddhas were eventually unearthed raising questions why so many statues were buried so densely in a cellar no more than 50 square meters by three meters deep? Furthermore, some Buddhas had been deliberately smashed. Who did this and why were they buried so carefully afterwards?

Archeologists authenticated the Buddhas by the artisans’ carving skills and coloring methods and found that most of them were finished in the 5th and 6th centuries when China was suffering from a national turmoil.

The northern nomads invaded the southern Han group’s territory, turning the country into a separatist regime between north and south. The turbulent society, however, gave a great boost to the development of multiple cultures and religions at the time. Several of the Qingzhou Buddhas can be traced back to the beginning of the 5th century.

They mostly had a background screen, one of the Buddha statue designs was introduced from the Central Asia. It was often made up of three Buddhas, with the middle one as the main character, Sakyamuni, who was smiling, a very Chinese-adapted interpretation of Buddhism originating from India.

The three Buddhas were standing on a big lotus leaf to echo the anecdote that Sakyamuni was enlightened under a banyan tree by two lotus flowers. Interestingly, the pattern of a dragon, a Chinese totem, was inscribed on the statue, which had never been seen on other Chinese Buddha statues.

In an era of betrayal, conspiracies and slaughters, religion was used as self-redemption for people. After the 4th century, Buddhism prevailed in China after it was married with politics. Emperors and royal families became pious followers, and they ordered countless Buddha statues, big and small, to be erected all across the country. And the Buddha model was said to be the emperor himself.

It was a time where people needed faith and an icon and Buddhism worked for them as a symbol of hope.

At the time, Qingzhou was a link between the north and south as a center of religion and politics. A large number of Buddha grottoes were carved and worshiped. Today in Qingzhou, there are still several cave temples with Buddha statues that were established between the 6th and 7th centuries, a golden age for the religion.

Numerous temples were sprouting up. Longxing Temple, the biggest in Qingzhou, boasted tall pagodas and grand halls. The county annals noted that a giant Buddha, around 13 meters high, stood in the middle of the main hall and, like all Buddhas, featured highly skillful engraving.

“I think they were carved by Longxing Temple’s full-time monks, who put their faith, respect and worship with a devout heart into every cut,” Xia said.

This is only a plausible assumption because the real workers of these Buddhas remain unknown. Art was born when people’s wisdom was combined with deep religious belief.

After Buddhism was introduced to the nation, China started to make religious icons. Early Buddha carving was influenced by India and Central Asia, before the Chinese developed their own style, which is proved by the discovery of the Buddhas at Qingzhou.

In the early 5th century, Buddhas were mostly slender with low shoulders, a typical body figure of the Chinese Han group, while their cheekbones were prominent, a traditional image of a Chinese wise man. The Buddha also changed and wore a long, loose robe after they traveled from India.

However, the style had a big shift by the 6th century. The embossment with the design of a background screen disappeared. Buddha’s face turned round and plump and they were all in tight-fitting clothes showing an elegant body curve, which brought it back to the Indian style. The change was so sudden without any transition. Meanwhile, this Indian-like style was never found outside Qingzhou.

The carving style became complicated in detail and all of them were colored and painted with golden foil.

The stone selected for the statue carving was local limestone, fine in texture and moderate in hardness, ideal to bring out the best of a Buddha. Today, the statue carving tradition is still one of the biggest industries of Qingzhou.

Hilarious Buddha sculptures in ancient temple were restored a little too much

The Laughing Buddha statues, dating back over 1500 years, were restored after a village crowdfunding project. But some think that the restoration went a shade too far.

Rib-tickling images emerging from a small Chinese town show that the notorious “Monkey Christ” isn’t the only hilarious art restoration on the block.

Fourteen ‘Laughing Buddhas’ with side-splitting expressions were photographed by a blogger and amateur historian during a visit to the town of Shibao in Xihe County, which is in China ’s north-western province of Gansu, on 19th June.

The 2,000-year-old cave carvings of smiling Buddhas had been restored and repainted during a village crowdfunding campaign in the 1990s.

The comical images show a pair of stone Buddhas with hilariously exaggerated smiles, with the general public now finding it difficult to believe that they appear anything like their original creators intended.

How the 50 ‘birth-tales’ of Buddha spread from Thailand to the rest of Southeast Asia

The Paññāsa Jātaka contain stories outside the Buddhist canon.

Paññāsa Jātaka are extra-canonical Birth Tales of the Buddha. Their origin is usually associated with Northern Thailand, or the former kingdom of Lānnā. However, many such extra-canonical Birth Tales found their way into the literatures of neighbouring peoples, such as the Thai of Central Thailand and the Lao of Laos and Northeast Thailand.

Motifs that appear in some Paññāsa Jātaka can also be found on ninth-century reliefs at the Borobudur monument in Java, which suggests that some Paññāsa Jātaka may be derived from older pre-Buddhist Southeast Asian folklore. Various Paññāsa Jātaka have parallels with Sanskrit literature as well as Tamil, Chinese, Tibetan, Khotanese and Southeast Asian folk tales.
Wooden covers of a Thai royal manuscript containing a selection of Paññāsa Jātaka from Central Thailand, c. 1851-1868. Credit: British Library

The Pali expression Paññāsa Jātaka literally means “50 Birth Tales”. Varying in numbers and order of arrangement, several collections of Paññāsa Jātaka are known in the Northern Thai, Lao, Tai Lue, Tai Khuen, Central Thai, Cambodian, Burmese and Mon traditions. Although there is no evidence as to which is the original or standard collection, it is thought that most of the Paññāsa Jātaka were written down by Buddhist monastics in the Lānnā kingdom between the 15th and 17th centuries, mostly in the local Northern Thai dialect, with some phrases in Pāli language.
Spread across Southeast Asia

Centres of Buddhist scholarship in the Lānnā kingdom were Wat Pā Daeng, Wat Phra Sing, Wat Mahābodhi in Chiang Mai and Wat Phra Thāt Haripunjaya in Lamphun, but many of the learned monks fled to Luang Prabang before and during the Burmese conquest of Chiang Mai in 1558, and others were taken to Burma. This explains not only the spread of the Paññāsa Jātaka but also the increase in production of manuscripts containing Paññāsa Jātaka across mainland Southeast Asia.

The collections of Paññāsa Jātaka are also known as Jātaka nǭk nibāt and Hāsip chāt in the Lānnā and Lao traditions, and Zimmè pannātha in the Burmese tradition – Zimmè referring to Chiang Mai. Most of the surviving manuscripts containing one or more Paññāsa Jātaka date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, but many of them appear to be copies from older manuscripts. Pali language versions of Paññāsa Jātaka can be found in the central Thai, Khmer and Burmese traditions.
Paññāsa Jātaka in Khmer script on palm leaves in 10 bundles, written in ink on gilt background –first leaf of each bundle – and incised on plain palm leaves. With small lacquered and gilded illuminations in ovals on the second leaf. Central Thailand, c.1851-1868. Credit: British Library

A royal edition of a selection of Paññāsa Jātaka was commissioned by King Mongkut. The text was written mainly in Khmer script which was commonly used for Pali Buddhist scriptures in central Thailand up until the end of the 19th century. Only a few words on the first two leaves are written in Khom script, a variant of Khmer script used in Thailand. The manuscript consists of 10 bundles with altogether 235 palm leaves, held between two wooden covers which were decorated with black lacquer and gilt floral patterns.

The text was incised and blackened on the plain dried palm leaves, except the first leaf of each bundle which are gilded with text applied in black ink or lacquer. All the palm leaves have gilded edges. The title leaves of each bundle are decorated with two illuminations in ovals; one on the left side showing a vihāra, Buddhist assembly hall, and one on the right depicting the royal seal of King Mongkut with a crown between two parasols.
Royal seal of King Mongkut or Rama IV on the title leaf of the first bundle of a royal manuscript containing Paññāsa Jātaka. Central Thailand, c.1851-1868. Credit British Library

A set of Northern Thai Paññāsa Jātaka transliterated from Dhamma script into Thai script was published in 1998 under the auspices of Chiang Mai University. The international team of researchers involved in this project point out that the original manuscript version written in Northern Thai Dhamma script is mainly in the Lānnā dialect with added words and phrases in Pali.

The text of these Paññāsa Jātaka is in prose and largely follows the structure of the Jātaka in the Pali canon. Whereas central Thai manuscript versions of the Paññāsa Jātaka were compiled in Pali language, early printed works usually contain translations of these stories in Thai language to make them available to wider audiences in central Thailand. The first printed Thai translation was published in 1923 under the direction of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, a son of King Mongkut (Rama IV) and founder of the modern educational system of Thailand.

To understand the dissemination of a relatively small extra-canonical collection of stories with a Buddhist motif over a wider geographical area one has to take the role of oral tradition and performance into consideration. Although monks and novices may have collected folktales and written them down for the first time, and even translated them into Pali and then back into various other vernacular languages, the spread of these stories will also have to be credited to the oral traditions and performing arts.

Not only monks travelled forth and back between centres of Buddhist worship, education and art, but also royals, artists, singers and musicians, theatre troupes, craftsmen, traders and ordinary people who would have helped to make their own folkloristic heritage known in foreign lands. And even when texts had been written down, the manuscripts did not necessarily stay in one place, but were often donated to Buddhist temples in faraway cities, regions and countries.

3200 kg Buddha Statue airlifted

A statue of the Samadhi Buddha statue weighing over 3,200 kg and a height of seven and a half feet was airlifted today to be placed at the historical Mulkirigala Rajamaha Viharaya.
The Sri Lanka Air Force said that the statue of the Buddha was taken by air from the Weeraketiya Mandaduwa Stadium about 3 miles away.
MI-17 helicopters were used for this purpose.
This was the largest weight carried by the aircraft carrier in the history of the Sri Lanka Air Force so far.

Fifth Century Statue of Lord Buddha in Kushinagar –

Here is the fifth century statue of Lord Buddha, you may be stunned to know its speciality

The statue of Lord Buddha discovered throughout the excavation of Lord Buddha at Mahaparinirvana website Kushinagar is believed to be of the fifth century. The greatest characteristic of this mendacity statue is that when seen from totally different locations, the place of the face of the statue additionally appears to be like totally different. Now, to protect this statue, a sheet of glass has been put in round it in order that nobody can contact it.

A new Buddha statue rises above Bangkok

Paknam Bhasicharoen Temple was shut amid the crisis, and reopened partly after the government announced the third phase of lockdown relaxation. (Via The Nation/File)

Thonburi district in Bangkok unveiled its new landmark, an imposing statue of the Buddha that rises 69 meters above the ground — about the height of a 20-story building.

The statue, called ‘Dhammakaya Thep Mongkol Buddha’ at Paknam Bhasicharoen Temple, is made of copper, and corresponds with the image the former abbot saw in his dream.

The vice abbot explained that the construction of this Buddha statue was devoted to Buddhism in Thailand and to celebrate the unique Thai sculpture.

Read also: Wat Pho temple explains ban on foreign visitors

The foundation stone laying ceremony was held in 2017, and the construction was smooth until COVID-19 spread across Thailand. This statue was aimed to be finished within 2020.

Paknam Bhasicharoen Temple was shut amid the crisis, and reopened partly after the government announced the third phase of lockdown relaxation.

The full opening of this temple was estimated to be on Tuesday.

Biggest gold statue of Buddha is situated in this country

Various types of sculptures exist in many countries of the world. However, statues of Lord Buddha are also present in many countries and some are so old that no one knows when they have been made and who has made them. The world’s largest Buddha statue is in the southwestern Sichuan province of China, which took more than 90 years to build. The construction of this huge stone statue began in the year 713 during the reign of the Tang Dynasty (618–907), but do you know where the world’s largest gold statue is located? Actually, this idol is of Lord Buddha, about which there are many surprising stories.

This statue of Lord Buddha is called ‘The Golden Buddha’. This statue is located in the ‘Wat Tremit’ temple of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The 9.8 feet tall statue weighs around 5500 kg. Although this statue is not for sale, still its value was estimated at around 19 billion rupees according to gold.

This idol was hidden from the world for many years. The story of its discovery is also very strange. Till 1954, people did not know about it that this idol is completely gold because at that time plaster was mounted on the idol. When a new building was built in the temple to keep the statue and it was being relocated in 1955, the statue accidentally fell to the ground, causing its plaster to crumble and its reality to the public. Later a big building was constructed in Wat Tremit temple to keep this idol and a gold statue of Lord Buddha was installed there. They also say that this gold statue was plastered so that it could be saved from theft. It is believed that the plastering of the statue must have been completed by the invaders of Burma in 1767 before the destruction of the kingdom of Ayutthaya.

Visions of Bhaishajyaguru, the Healing Buddha

In the year 680 CE, shortly after the Buddhist teachings had started to take root in Japan, the 40th Japanese emperor, Tenmu (r. 673–86), was worried for the health of his consort and commissioned the construction of a Buddhist temple as a prayer for her recovery. The temple was dedicated to the Buddha of Healing, Bhaishajyaguru, the “Healing Teacher,” known in Japan as Yakushi Nyorai. Tenmu’s consort recovered and went on to become the Empress Jito after Tenmu himself died in 687, and she completed the construction of Yakushi Temple, or Yakushi-ji, several years later. In the eighth century, the temple was dismantled and rebuilt in the new capital Nara, where it was named one of the Seven Great Temples of the region. Its main deity, Yakushi, initially became the Medicine Buddha to the upper classes, but within a century or so, much of the population turned to this deity to heal sickness and disease.

Yakushi or Bhaishajyaguru, who is also known as the Medicine Buddha, is unlike other deities in the Buddhist pantheon. While there many manifestations of the Buddha and other deities to whom followers can turn for help with their spiritual healing and growth, Bhaishajyaguru is the only deity believed to not only cure spiritual ailments but also to heal physical illnesses. He is believed to have made 12 vows as a bodhisattva, including vows to heal beings born with deformities, illness, or other physical suffering, and to help those suffering from sickness, mental afflictions, hunger, thirst, poverty, oppression, cold, and even mosquitoes. Over the centuries, Buddhists in Central Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan in particular have called upon the Healing Buddha to cure their illnesses, either by praying directly to images of the deity or by rubbing sculptures on the parts of his body relating to their own particular ailment.

In Buddhist imagery, the Bhashajyaguru’s healing powers are suggested by various aspects of his appearance. Like most buddhas, he is usually depicted seated on a lotus throne and surrounded by halos, suggesting his advanced spiritual power. In some representations, such as the Yakushi sculpture at Yakushi Temple in Nara, there are seven smaller seated buddhas shown within the halos, alluding to certain Buddhist texts that claim that he was one of Eight Medicinal Buddhas who created medicinal plants and presided over the Buddhist realms. In most paintings and sculptures, Bhashajyaguru holds his right hand in the abhaya, or fearlessness mudra (as in the printed temple souvenir here) or the bhumisparsha, or earth-touching mudra, as in the Tibetan thangka from the Gallery of New South Wales. However, in some images, such as the pieced-silk thangka above, his right hand is open in the varada, or gift-giving mudra, and also holds a myrobalan—a five-sided lemon-like fruit with medicinal properties. In most images, his left hand rests upon his lap with the palm facing upward holding a small medicine jar or a bowl containing medicine or medicinal fruit.

Although Bhaishajyaguru may be depicted with the golden skin of a divine being, he is also often rendered with deep blue skin. The color is a reference to the Eastern Buddhist Paradise over which he presides, which is known as Vaidurya-pravhasa (Lapis Lazuli Paradise), after the semi-precious stone that is also thought by many to possess healing qualities. Residing with him in this paradise are two bodhisattvas, who are often depicted flanking him, particularly in Japanese images. The deities are Suryaprabha (Japanese: Nikko, the “Splendor of the Sun”) and Chandraprabha (Japanese: Gekko, the “Splendor of the Moon”). In other representations, Bhaishajyaguru is accompanied by the Twelve Heavenly Generals, each representing one of his vows and one of the 12 calendar months.

In each of the Buddhist cultures where Bhaishajyaguru has been revered, he has been considered one of the most powerful and important buddhas in the Buddhist pantheon. Not only have temples been built in his honor, but he has been represented in sculptures, paintings, and prints, and worshipped by people of all classes, undoubtedly because, while not all people are aware of spiritual ailments, sickness and physical pain and suffering are universal. Unlike most other buddhas and deities, who offer followers spiritual healing and the promise of rebirth in his paradise, or aid in the pursuit of release from the cycle of rebirth, the Medicine Buddha has long offered something more material, immediate, and tangible—relief from suffering, pain, and sickness in this life.

California-based artist Leslie Rinchen Wongmo, who created the pieced-silk thangka of the Medicine Buddha above, has again turned her focus to Bhashajyaguru. “I’m working on another Medicine Buddha now, one that has been waiting five years for me to finish it,” she reveals. “I think it’s finally time.” Although she has completed the figure of the deity, she is still working on the background. Just below his lotus throne, she has placed a sphere. “I am offering the Earth to the Healing Buddha,” she explains. At times like the present, when protection from illness and the hope of global-scale healing are on all of our minds, it is easy to understand why Bhashajyaguru has been such a beloved deity for so long and why so many followers still turn to him for solace and salvation.