October 2, 2021RupaMaker

Guide to buying your Statue

When a Practitioner, who is relatively new to buying a statue, drops in our store and sees a wide variety of collections, she/he could get confused as to which statue to buy. We guide them and explain about the different varieties and sizes that are available. From this experience of guiding a practitioner to buy a statue, we are sharing with you some of steps that could be helpful in clearing out your confusion and bringing clarity on the decision you make.

Before we get started, it’s important to know that when buying any Dharma item, be it a statue, thangka, maalas, or any other item, it’s not necessarily like shopping for other types of products that fulfils our needs and wants, and then dispose them within a short span of time and then it becomes useless. When looking for a statue, it’s like looking for a friend who inspires and supports you in your journey and practice as long as you breathe. You can further pass down the Dharma item to the generation that is to come. The item will be invaluable once you begin to practice with it. Keeping this in mind lets now head into some of the key steps that are important when buying a statue.

Being specific with name of the Deity and its qualities-

When it comes to the practice of Vajrayana or Mahayana, there are a number of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas along with great Buddhist masters. The practitioner should do a brief study about the Buddhas or the Bodhisattvas that he/she is looking for. Getting the name right, along with the iconography, which is very important, is necessary. When one says Buddha, one could generally have an idea of the historical Buddha who is known as ‘Shakyamuni Buddha’. But one should be aware of other Buddhas like ‘Amitabha Buddha’ or ‘Medicine Buddha’, etc. Each has different representations in terms of their hand positioning, colour and the items they may hold. Being specific about the name of the deity and its iconography will indeed bring clarity as you begin to look for the right statue.

Knowing about Statue Sizes and Finishes

When one becomes clear with the deity along with the iconography, one can now begin to view statues and its wide varieties in terms of sizes and finishes.

Size of the Statue-

Statues could range in different sizes, from small to big and even large. When choosing a size, let’s first look at the sizes that are generally available-

  • Small size statues (4” – 6” inches)
  • Medium size statues (7” -10” inches)
  • Big size statues (12”- 15” inches)
  • Large size statues (16” inches and above)

Small size statues are difficult to craft and work on, so the quality of the work may not be as good as the work done on medium, or bigger statues. And sizes smaller than small size statues aren’t available much nowadays, and if they are, most are made out of machines (Vacuum Moulding). Medium sizes are the popular ones amongst the practitioners and big size statues are also among its popularity. When deciding upon the size, do look into the size of your shrine, and choose accordingly.

Finish of the Statue

Statues in Nepal are mostly made out of Copper. While there are stone sculptures, most of the statues are in metal. Metal statues are made of copper and then plated with Gold or Silver. When choosing a finish of the statue, there are a number of finishes that manufacturers may offer. We at Rupamaker offer the following finishes:

  • Full Gold plated
  • Part Gold plated
  • Part Gold two toned
  • Full Silver plated
  • Part Silver plated
  • Copper Oxidized
  • Two-toned copper oxidized

Gold is an auspicious metal, so most practitioners prefer to have either a part-gold plating or a full gold plating. Nonetheless, it is not necessary that gold has to be present in the statue. Silver plating statues and copper oxidized statues look equally amazing. Some manufacturers even paint the statues.

Observing the Statue

The next step to buying a statue is observing the statue with a keen eye. Observing the statue can be done on three levels:

  • On the basis of iconography
  • On the basis of its work
  • Observing one’s own emotions

On the basis of Iconography

Iconography is important when it comes to the representation of the Deity. First observe whether the statue follows the iconography of the deity. Check the hand postures, their sitting position, etc.

On the basis of its work

Making sure that the Deity follows the correct iconography, it is now time to observe the quality of the work. First, observe the entire statue as a whole. When observing this check the proportions of the body. Does the head proportion look right compared to its body? These are some of the questions you can choose to answer as you observe it. After this, observe the statue from top to bottom. Start with observing its head and its face. Check the work of the face painting. Observe the work on the robes and its engravings. Observe its clarity and smoothness. Observe if the work flows smoothly with little or no breakage. Observe it carefully.

Observing one’s own emotions

As you observe the statue, also be aware of your response to that observation. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings as you observe various aspects of the statue.

Making a decision

When making a decision on whether or not you should spend your money on a statue, there are few important points that one must remember. Having a Statue is not a necessity. Statues are handcrafted, so there are limitations to the availability of a particular statue. When you buy a statue, it will probably be with you for the rest of your life, and further to the generations that are to come. What may seem expensive in the present context may become invaluable in future. It is important that you decide well. Be aware about the budget that you are willing to spend. Again, it is not a necessity that you have to have a statue and it is also not necessary that you spend on the most beautiful one. Having your dharma practice progress day by day is what truly matters. When you buy a statue, make sure that it brings the best out of you and your practice.

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