How to choose your statue for your Buddhist practise? Advises to choose your statue. Choose well your statue.

1         Essential advises to choose your statue

1.1 Content

  1. The motivation – Why to buy?The motivation – Why to buy?
  2. The practise – What deity to choose?The practise – What deity to choose?
  3. The shop – Where to buy?The shop – Where to buy?
  4. The quality – What to buy?The quality – What to buy?
  5. The consecration - Blessing the statue by filling it with precious materialThe consecration - Blessing the statue by filling it with precious material
  6. The material – What is the statue made of?The material – What is the statue made of?
  7. The price – What is the right price?The price – What is the right price?
  8. The location - Where to place your Buddhist statue?The location - Where to place your Buddhist statue?
  9. The end of your relationship – What to do?The end of your relationship – What to do?
  10. ConclusionsConclusions

1.2        The motivation – Why to buy?

Your motivation is the best guide to help you find which statue is right for you.

The reasons behind choosing a statue are numerous and related to our mindset and internal feelings. The most common rationale to have your own Buddhist statue is to use it as:

  • An instrument of worship: worshiping Buddhist statues may help you comprehend and remember the deity qualities and exercise these qualities within yourselves using Buddhist's teachings.
  • A support for meditation practises: through deity’s statue visualisation, you can practise various exercises to find inner peace.
  • A support for bringing blessings to your personal or professional environment: the statues are consecrated and blessed by your lama/teacher/spiritual friend. Your daily routine when passing in front of the statue is then reminding the qualities of the deity and/or making offerings to it (incense, flowers, saffroned water, etc.)
  • An appreciation of the artwork: you wish to recognize the artwork and help perpetuating this craftsmanship tradition, then you can use it to provide a specific atmosphere to your living environment.

Try to really look within yourself: what is your *REAL* motivation behind this act? The answer can guide you in finding the right statue.

1.3        The practise – What deity to choose?

If you have been practising for a few years, you most probably already met a spiritual friend helping you along the journey. Based on your personality, your daily practise, this spiritual friend can advise you about the deity which possesses the quality to be developed within yourself.

Here is a sample of the principal deities within Buddhism:

  • Buddha Shakyamuni: commonly named “The Buddha”. He is an historical character that lived during the VIth century BC. He was born in historical India under the Sakya clan and was named Siddhartha. He is the symbol of the awakening.
  • Avalokiteshvara/Chenrezig: Incarnation of the compassion of all buddhas.
  • Vairochana: is one of the primordial Buddhas. Vairochana represents the purity of the awakening.
  • Arya Tara/Green Tara: named the green liberator, she embodies the protection of all beings.
Each deity possesses Her/His own set of qualities.
Buddha Shakyamuni Avalokiteshvara / Chenrezig  Arya Tara / Green Tara 

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1.4        The shop – Where to buy?

Before deciding to buy, you need to identify a shop that warranty the quality of its handicrafts. Here is some mandatory information you must obtain from a professional seller:

  • Origin: The origin of the material provides an indication about the genuity of the statue makers. For example, for Tibetan Buddhism canons, the best craftsmen are from Nepal. From Nepal the art of making the statues was exported to Tibet, where it gained a growing popularity.
  • Warranty: are the duration and conditions of the warranty clearly stated?
  • Description: is the description detailed enough (dimensions, weight, high-resolution picture, material, manufacturing process, etc.). By having the possibility to check these details, you have the possibility to detect inconsistencies (i.e. size versus weight for certain material, etc.)
  • Imagery: are the statue pictures numerous enough and detailed enough for you to check the respect the Buddhist canons?
  • Ethical values: is the shop respecting some ethical guidelines (fair price towards the craftsman, ecological packaging and transport, carbon compensation, etc.)
  • Precaution of usage: does the site provides instructions on the maintenance of a statue? How to clean it? How to store the statue? How to respect Buddhist ethics? Etc.

The quality of the information provided by the shop is a good indicator of the shop’s quality.

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1.5        The quality – What to buy?

As instrument of practice, a statue must generate a sense of devotion or refuge towards the deity represented. To that respect, the statue quality must be high.

To assess the quality of a statue, it is important to verify aspects like the expression of the face, the correctness of the gestures and postures, etc.

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1.5.1        The face

Face is the most important factor to look for when buying a statue.

For example, if you decide to go on and buy a golden statue, you need checking that the face is primarily painted with 24k gold. After this, a master painter (usually a thangka painter), finely outlines the eyes, nose and lips. For certain deities, the face expression should portray compassion, considering that it ought to invoke in us devotion and respect.

The finer the face painting of the statue, the better the quality.

An inspiring face is a good indicator of the preciousness of the statue!
Beautiful Buddha face

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1.5.2        The body, the gestures and the postures

Deities are presented in various postures symbolising the multiple qualities and aspects of the deity. Here are some examples:

  • Green Tara has her right feet is on a small lotus symbolising Her readiness to help beings in need.
  • Buddha Shakyamuni’s hand gesture touching the earth symbolises His willingness to use the earth as a testimony of His enlightenment.
Statue gestures and posture must be correct!
Hand gesture buddha shakyamuni Green Tara leg posture

 

Buddhas and deities are represented making gestures with their hands and having their legs in certain postures. When you buy a statue, you need to check the exact respect of your Buddhist tradition canons.

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1.5.3        The attributes

Deities possess various attributes symbolising their multiple qualities. For example:

  • Clothes: deities wear sometimes the traditional monk robes or more elaborated clothing including shawl, silk skirt, tunic decorated with golden patterns, etc. Clothes are often a representation of a total liberation from torments caused by internal disturbances;
  • Jewellery: earing, necklace, wrist, belt, etc. represent the fact that the sensory pleasures are not suppressed but transformed into ornaments of wisdom.

Pay attention that attributes may vary from one text to another.

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1.5.4        The carvings

Carvings of the statue body is another key aspect that speaks about the mastery of the craftsman and the quality of the statue. The more detailed and finer is the carving, the more you can trust that this statue was done by a master artisan. For example, for Tibetan Buddhism statues, the best handicraft masters are located in Patan, Nepal.

High quality carving is a good indicator of the preciousness of the statue!
Beautiful carving on the robe of a statue

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1.6        The consecration - Blessing the statue by filling it with precious material

It is not necessary to consecrate a statue, but if you do so, please consider that the statue must be hollow to be filled in and sealed.

For example, in the context of Tibetan Buddhism, a statue is filled according to a precise ritual with a long-life stick, mantras, sacred pills, precious material like saffron, symbolic prints, etc. At the end of the filling, the statue is sealed and blessed by a Lama. The consecrated statue then becomes an incarnation of the qualities of the deity and blesses the practise of its owner.

Various fillings for statue consecration.
Filling for statue consecration

Usually, statues made in Nepal are designed specifically for consecration. You should even be able to ask the vendor to bless the statue by a Monk or Lama in a local Buddhist Monastery when buying.

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1.7        The material – What is the statue made of?

The material of the statue is not so much important.

Here it is more about your personal taste and budget.

You can find very good practise statues made of various material: gold plated (fully/partial), oxidized copper, wood, semi-precious stone, resin, bronze, etc.

Statues made in various material.
Guru Rinpoche in white resin Guru Rinpoche gold gilded Buddha Shakyamuni in copper

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1.8        The budget – What is the right budget?

It is not necessary to spend a fortune on a statue for your daily practises.

Resin statues that are well manufactured and correspond to Buddhist canons starts at a budget of approximatively 40€ for a good 15cms statue.

Of course, there is no limit for a statue budget! You find great statues fully gold plated and extremely well realised by top masters at a thousand+ euro for a 15cms statue and even dozens of thousands of euro for a couple meters height marble statue for a temple.

Our advice is: start spending a small budget on your first statue and then, as your practise goes on and your connection with the deity grows, you can invest a more substantial budget on a good quality handcrafted statue.

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1.9        The location - Where to place your Buddhist statue?

1.9.1        On an altar

Buddhist statues are not decorative objects. Acquiring a statue, underlies that one wishes to use it for its own practice and to devote it an altar or a privileged place for one's practice. It is not desirable to use a statue as a book press or for any other purpose.

Altar for statues
 Altar for statue Alta for statue

1.9.2        In an apartment

The statues should be placed in a high, clean place and separated from more "worldly" materials. Other objects should not be placed above Dharma statues.

Another method for finding out where to place your Buddhist statue is Feng Shui.

1.9.3        In a garden

A Buddhist statue should always face your home to spread a positive influence. You should also avoid putting a Buddhist statue on the ground, which is deemed disrespectful. A solid piece of rock or marble is best for your Buddhist statue to sit on.

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1.10    The end of your relationship – What to do?

If you do not want to keep your Buddhist statue, do not throw it away!

Please contact the nearest Buddhist centre and make it a donation. In doing so, the statue will keep bringing you merit until the end of your relationship.

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1.11    Conclusions

There are many benefits you can get from a Buddhist deity statue but you need to buy the one which is right for you!

You must decide what kind of Buddhist statues are best for you and you must remember that you can find many different types of statues (deities, quality, price, etc.) all over the Internet.

Do not hesitate to ask the seller to bless the Buddhist statue by a monk in the nearest Buddhist centre before you pay for it.

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