Nazi buddha from space might be fake

Related Articles

Related Articles

Image Source : Wiley Life

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.


 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Nazi buddha from space might be fake” was written by Lizzy Davies, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 24th October 2012 14.33 UTC

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 sometime between 1910 and 1970.

“I would like to briefly address readers from outside our field and clarify that there is not any controversy among experts about the authenticity of the statue, the ‘lama wearing trousers’, as I would like to call it,” writes the University of Seoul academic. “Up to date, no acknowledged authority in the field of Tibetan or Mongolian art has publicly deemed the statue authentic and the issue has to be considered uncontroversial.”

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 Schäfer, a Nazi ethnologist who led an SS expedition to Tibet.

But German historian Isrun Engelhardt, who has studied Schäfer’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.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

The Modhera Sun Temple

The Sun Temple is an ancient Hindu temple complex located on a latitude of 23.6° (near Tropic of Cancer) on the banks of the Pushpavati river at Modhera in Gujarat, India.

Scientists Hunt For Lost WW2 Bunkers Designed to Hold Off Invasion

New research published by scientists from Keele, Staffordshire and London South Bank Universities, has unveiled extraordinary new insights into a forgotten band of secret fighters created to slow down potential invaders during World War Two.

Sea Ice Triggered the Little Ice Age

A new study finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s, and supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing.

The Two Fanjingshan Temples

Fanjingshan Temple is actually two temples, located on the “Red Clouds Golden Summit or Golden Peak” on Fanjingshan Mountain (also known as Mount Fanjing), the highest point of the Wuling Mountains in southwestern China.

Venus’ Ancient Layered, Folded Rocks Point to Volcanic Origin

An international team of researchers has found that some of the oldest terrain on Venus, known as tesserae, have layering that seems consistent with volcanic activity. The finding could provide insights into the enigmatic planet's geological history.

Undersea Earthquakes Shake up Climate Science

Despite climate change being most obvious to people as unseasonably warm winter days or melting glaciers, as much as 95 percent of the extra heat trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases is held in the world's oceans.

Raids and Bloody Rituals Among Ancient Steppe Nomads

Ancient historiographers described steppe nomads as violent people dedicated to warfare and plundering.

Ancient Human Footprints in Saudi Arabia Give Glimpse of Arabian Ecology 120000 Years Ago

Situated between Africa and Eurasia, the Arabian Peninsula is an important yet understudied region for understanding human evolution across the continents.

Popular stories

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.