In the mid-1950’s, the leaders of Thailand decided to build a new highway into their largest city, Bangkok. The highway would pass through an area with relatively low population density where an old broken-down temple stood. The government purchased the property rights to the old temple and the surrounding grounds, and agreed to let a few local monks move a 500-year-old white stucco statue of Buddha to a safer location.
The stucco Buddha was absolutely immense in size and weight. It stood nearly 11 feet tall, with a 6-foot circumference, and weighed in at nearly 15,000 pounds. So the local monks worked with the government leaders to arrange for a large crane and transport to safely move the stucco Buddha from the old temple grounds to a new home on the other side of the city.
A couple weeks later, when the crane was actually in the process of moving the stucco Buddha, it was clear that everyone involved had miscalculated the statue’s weight and fragility. At one point, a turbulent wind gust forced the crane operator to bring the stucco Buddha back down to the ground with a hard thud. The massive idol cracked open in several places the moment it hit the ground, and the local monks screamed and pleaded for all crane operations to be halted for the day. Then, tarps were placed over the cracked statue to protect it from ensuing turbulent winds.
That evening, one of the monks was still very disturbed and couldn’t sleep a wink. So he put on his windbreaker and returned to the stucco Buddha with a lantern. He wanted to evaluate the damage to his sacred and holy idol. As he peered under one of the tarps and through a crack in the stucco, he noticed something odd buried several inches beneath the surface of the statue.
He picked up a mallet that the crane operator had left on the job site, and carefully chipped away at [Read more…]