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The 11th Ave. Buddha

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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01 August 2014 16:12
 

That’s a cool story. Interesting in that, even in our Christian culture, it seems unlikely that a large cross or even Jesus statue would have had the same effect. They are all symbols, obviously, but that probably says something about our current cultural reaction to symbols.

 
 
samyag-drsti
 
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samyag-drsti
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03 August 2014 01:00
 
NicLynn - 01 August 2014 02:12 PM

That’s a cool story. Interesting in that, even in our Christian culture, it seems unlikely that a large cross or even Jesus statue would have had the same effect. They are all symbols, obviously, but that probably says something about our current cultural reaction to symbols.

I think you’re right with regard to the culture in California. But I don’t think it would have been as well received in the Bible belt. I hope it survives.

 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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03 August 2014 07:58
 

I see a lot of little Buddha statues placed on peoples fire places and hearths, or dotted about their houses here in the UK. People of all persuasions seem to like them.
I wonder if there is something universal about their general appeal. We have one too.

 
cunjevoi
 
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cunjevoi
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03 August 2014 08:32
 

Buddha statues are quite common in Australian gardens. Thailand has become a popular holiday destination for Aussies and it seems fashionable to design tropical SE Asian style gardens for backyards.

My belly’s lookin’ more and more like Buddha’s too.

 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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03 August 2014 09:16
 
cunjevoi - 03 August 2014 06:32 AM

Buddha statues are quite common in Australian gardens. Thailand has become a popular holiday destination for Aussies and it seems fashionable to design tropical SE Asian style gardens for backyards.

My belly’s lookin’ more and more like Buddha’s too.

Same here cunj… the gardens and the belly.

 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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03 September 2014 04:55
 
Skipshot - 22 June 2013 01:55 PM

2. While on tour of the abandoned former capital of Ayutthya, Thailand, which has scores of ruined Buddhist temples, I asked my tour guide why all the statues of Buddha were missing their heads.  The answer is that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries European tourists visited the abandoned city and, like many tourists, wanted to take a souvenir.  The Thai offered a statue of Buddha, because, as noted above, to spread Buddha is a good thing, and besides, these ones were abandoned and neglected and if the Thai could make money off of old junk then give the tourists the old junk.  (The Thai really did think the ruined city was old junk.)  The tourists realized the whole statue was too large to take so they compromised and asked for just the head with its serene expression, and the Thai obliged.  Soon the idea caught on and the Thai went about the city cutting off all heads and selling them to tourists.  Prior to this there was no tradition of Buddha’s head decorating a garden.  The cultural, historical, and artistic value of Ayutthaya was later realized and the heads are being restored.  It is really bad form to stand behind a statue and put your goofy-ass head in place of Buddha’s.

unsmoked’s Fountain Of Lies thread inspired/reminded me to confirm the story above, and after doing a casual internet search the results are inconclusive.
1. There is little to corroborate my story above, however, theft or looting of ancient Buddhist temples to be sold to tourists and museums is well known, so the story has some plausibilty.
2. The predominant reason given for the missing heads is that when Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, the invaders chopped off all the heads to loot the precious gems thought to be inside.  However, the sources for this story are not authoritative and have the scent of repeating a story they heard without verifying it.  There are a number of problems with this version:
  a. I was unable to find sources which mentioned gems hidden within Buddha statues besides Ayutthaya.
  b. Each head was carefully removed at nearly the same spot on the statues, which is more indicative of careful planning than wanton sacking.
  c. The Burmese were Buddhist, too, and it doesn’t make sense that they would vandalize a sacred image.
  d. The Thai and Burmese have a long history of detesting each other’s guts, and blaming the other for an injustice is common to keep the hatred
      alive, similar to reports in Britain during WW I meant to drum up support for the war of German soldiers throwing Belgian babies in the air to be
      impaled on bayonettes.

In conclusion, it is unclear to me why the statues of Buddha in Ayutthaya are missing their heads, but antiquity theft is the more likely explanation.

 
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