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Buddha from space may be fake

Published Oct 25, 2012 07:32pm


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THE narrative was, perhaps, just a little too good to be true. When news broke last month of the so-called “Buddha from space” — a swastika-emblazoned statue, apparently 1,000 years old, that had been carved out of a meteorite and looted by a Nazi ethnologist — the world was enthralled.

There were only, it turns out, a few slight catches. According to two experts who have since given their verdict on the mysterious Iron Man, it may have been a European counterfeit; it was probably made at some point in the 20th century; and it may well not have been looted by the Nazis. The bit about the meteorite, though, still stands.

According to Buddhism specialist Achim Bayer, the statue bears 13 features which are easily identifiable by experts as “pseudo-Tibetan” — and which sit uneasily with speculation by researchers last month that it was probably made in the 11th-century pre-Buddhist Bon culture.

These include the 24cm-high statue’s shoes, trousers and hand positioning, as well as the fact that the Buddha has a full beard rather than the “rather thin” facial hair usually given to a deity in Tibetan and Mongolian art. In his report, Bayer says he believes the statue to be a European counterfeit made some time between 1910 and 1970.

“Up to date, no acknowledged authority in the field of Tibetan or Mongolian art has publicly deemed the statue authentic…,” writes the University of Seoul academic.

The statue’s Asian provenance is not the only aspect of the story to have been questioned. In September, the man leading a team of German and Austrian researchers, University of Stuttgart geologist Elmar Buchner, said its previous owner had claimed it had been brought to Europe in the late 1930s by Ernst Schafer, a Nazi ethnologist who led an SS expedition to Tibet.

But German historian Isrun Engelhardt, who has studied Schafer’s trip to Tibet in depth, has cast doubt on this suggestion, questioning the statue’s absence on the long list of items brought back. “There is an extremely precise list of the purchased objects, including date, place and value,” she told Spiegel.

Buchner says he had no reason to doubt the account of the previous owner, and stresses that his team was only looking into what the statue was made of — a rare form of iron with a high content of nickel — not where it had come from. While they felt able to say the material most likely came from the Chinga meteorite, which crashed to earth 15,000 years ago, the researchers admitted that “the ethnological and art historical details — as well as the time of sculpturing, currently remain speculative”.

Moreover, Buchner’s statements about the origins were qualified. He told the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science: “If we are right that it was made in the Bon culture in the 11th century, it is absolutely priceless and absolutely unique worldwide.” — The Guardian, London


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (8) Closed

Rahmul Oct 26, 2012 06:31am
You are a Muslim country with no respect for other religions. You should not report about other religions. Concentrate on your own religion which allows killing of children, no women rights etc
andleeb (Canada) Oct 26, 2012 04:13am
I im not sure what this has to do with Islamic culture. We do not worship stones.
nain tara Oct 26, 2012 12:49pm
How this topic has come to religious discussion .the topic &the comments have nothing to do with Islam and still you are criticizing the Muslims without any rhyme & reason.
g m patra Oct 26, 2012 01:07pm
u are allowed to worship what u want by Canada and its people. Respect its laws and thinking and learn to respect and allow others to worship whatever they wanr.
Agha Ata (USA) Oct 26, 2012 01:27pm
It maybe a fake, but it is a very genuine fake. :)
Cyrus Howell Oct 26, 2012 02:28pm
Do we care?
Anony Oct 26, 2012 08:14pm
Rahmul is a religious fanatic who can't even defend his own religion in which brides were burnt alive along with their dead husbands, and the caste system still rules in india. Go worship your idols now.
DharmendraGoel Oct 26, 2012 09:56am
Well global counterfeiting of artistic seatues isa promising spinner. Many associated with global cultural trading often patronise sthis industry, old texts and modern crving lathes are dovetailed to give pseudo antiques that command high premium in this market. Of course,alongwith such nefarious practices the genuine experts also create many new ways of tackling this disastrous crim in all deals.