Taiwan to return ancient Buddha head to China

:: Hong Kong ::

      A precious thousand-year-old stone Buddha head will be returned to its historic roots in Chinese mainland’s Shandong Province by a Taiwan religious organization next month, according to news reaching here from Taipei.

      Mater Sheng Yen, founder of the Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) Foundation located in Peitou, Taipei, explained that “retuning this 1,300-year-old Buddhist relic to its historic roots and restoring it to its original dignified completeness is much more important than keeping it here at the DDM.” The stone head of the Akshobhya Buddha statue, originally from the Four Gate Pagoda of the Shentong Monastery in Shandong, was sawed off and stolen in 1997. The Buddha head was then moved from place to place around the globe over a period of more than four years before coming into the possession of a few Taiwanese business people.

      The relic, which is highly representative of the Buddhist culture in China before the Tang Dynasty, was presented to master Sheng Yen earlier this year as a gift intended to be displayed in the DDM Museum of Buddhist History and culture that is under planning and construction.

      The DDM spent six months on an investigation into the origins of the stone Buddha head. Through the help of local art experts and scholars, preliminary result revealed that the Buddha head might be the missing Buddha head of the Four Gate Pagoda at the Shengtong Monastery in northern China.

      In order to confirm this, Liu Fengjun, a department head of Shandong University’s Institute of Archaeological Art and Research, and Liu Jiwen, vice president of the committee of the Four Gate Pagoda Scenic Spot, were invited by the DDM to Taiwan for further inspection of the statue. After thorough observation and analysis on the artifact, the two experts confirmed the Buddha head to be the missing head of the Akshobhya Buddha statue that is located at the east wall of the central column of the Four Gate Pagoda, which was built during the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and was ranked as China’s most important artifact in 1963.

      Master Sheng Yen has decided to allow the Taiwan public an opportunity to view the Buddha head between Dec.1-15, before it is to be returned to the mainland.
People who go to see the Buddha head will be allowed to write their blessing and wishes on 10,000 wooden plates, which will be used to build a case to transport the Buddha head to Shandong Province via Hong Kong.