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May 2006


COLLECTIBLES

The World of the Buddha
by Ed Kiersh

OBJECTS OF MEDITATION MAKE A RUN FOR THE MONEY

[Image]

Emitting a powerful, magnetic presence, a finely sculptured, 19th-century bronze Buddha statue is seated in the lotus position atop a throne of elephants and horses. His flowing robe is stunningly ornamented. Flecks of gold leaf have been pressed into the lacquered surface, accentuating the transcendental magnificence of this Burmese relic's ability to heal.

Other stirring Buddhist figures—priests, deities or the Buddha himself—from Japan and Korea grace adjoining shelves in the Buddha Museum in Berkeley, California. Made of wood, stone and ivory, they mirror the far-ranging cultural appeal and spiritual diversity of these devotional objects. One 18th-century Siam sculpture bestows blessings with her serene smile, while several $500 to $3,500 figures convey everything from youthful innocence to serenity of faith, generosity and the ability to banish ghosts.

Perhaps most compelling is the Chinese stone Maitreya Buddha dating back to the 10th to 12th century. The piece, estimated at $2,500, depicts the Buddha who is said will come after the chaos and lead the world out of turmoil with great compassion.

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