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Friday, September 28, 2012

The statue of Buddha made from a meteorite and acquired by Nazis

That's not the most weird headline I've ever made for a blog post, but I must say: that it's certainly among the most interesting! It's not often that the worlds of archaeology, astronomy, chemistry and history come together so boldly.

The statue on the left, dubbed "the Iron Man", was found in Tibet sometime around 1938, by Nazi scientist Ernst Schäfer. It's thought that it represents the Buddhist god Vaisravana. The statue isn't terribly large but given its all-metal composition it is rather heavy. Schäfer thought it would be of particular interest to his superiors because of the swastika symbol carved upon its chest (Schäfer's expedition was to research the origins of the Aryan race). So the statue was packed up and sent to Germany and eventually found its way into the possession of a private collector.

The statue was likely carved in the tenth century, at most. But it's what it was carved from that makes it really neat: an iron-nickel meteorite that probably crashed to Earth sometime around 10,000 years ago along the border of present-day Siberia and Mongolia!

Furthermore, this is the only known statue carved in human likeness to have been made from a meteorite.

And incidentally, the swastika symbol found on the statue is - or was anyway - a very common symbol in many Asian cultures, as it was thought to represent good fortune. The swastika can be found on statues, in embroidery and many other works of art. It was only when the Nazis arose that Hitler and his followers twisted it into the symbol now sadly synonymous with evil.

LiveScience has a more in-depth article about the Nazi-found meteorite Buddha statue.


Unknown said...


Coincidence? Can't be.

Taijasi said...

Chris, thank you for being sure to clarify that it was Hitler (and the Thule Society) ... and the Nazis who gave the Swastika the reverse spin, literally, to emphasize the destructive power in nature over the creative. Sadly, many people do not realize just how universal and in fact, AMERICAN, this symbol really is in its original, sacred connotations. The same is true of the equal-armed cross, among others. And the meteorite statue you discuss ... is a totally new one on me! :)