Thursday, 25 October 2012

Meteorite Buddhist Statue a Fake

You may have seen the story of a priceless Buddhist statue looted by the Nazis in Tibet in the 1930s that was carved from a meteorite which crashed to the Earth 15,000 years ago. The relic bears a Buddhist swastika on its belly – an ancient symbol of luck that was later appropriated, and reversed, by the Nazis in Germany.

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 sometime between 1910 and 1970.

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