Gold … the color of the Buddha statues

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The “golden” color reminds me of the many golden Buddha statues in the temples all over the country. I noticed that there are different types of Buddha statues in the temple complexes, all varying in size, position, gesture and materials. Buddha statues in the halls are mainly “gold” while the outdoor statues are mainly made of granite stone.

Although many ancient statues were made of cast iron or wood the most statues are made of cast bronze, gilded with gold leaf and gold powder.

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The sizes, positions and gestures of statuary at any given temple depend on a number of factors. Affluence, historical period and sect all play a role in choosing a statue.

The most common Buddhas to be found are:

  1. Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha usually depicted with a bare shoulder and hands in his lap or one touching the floor.
  2. Vairocana, the cosmic Buddha, usually depicted holding his index finger.
  3. Amitabha, the Buddha of light and of the Western Paradise – usually golden.
  4. Maitreya, the Future Buddha, usually in a posture of reflection: the Laughing Buddha of the Chinese.
  5. Bhaisagyaguru, the Medicine Buddha, always white, usually holds a bowl for medicine.

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The most important Buddha statue can always be found in the Main Hall of the temple complex, surrounded by smaller statues of Boddhisatvas and disciples, who can also be painted in a different color. However many golden buddha can also be found outside.

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In stores around temples you can find  “99.9 % golden” gift cards with various Buddha statues. Those gift cards carry different kind of pictures related to the different Boddhisatvas to bring you good luck or protect you from evil.  On one of my trips I received one of those cards from a monk in order to protect me on my travels. So far the card worked pretty well !

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