Tue, May 26, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Anonymous art collector returns head to decapitated Chinese Buddha statue

HEAD LINE:A monastery obtained consent from the head’s donor before asking Chinese authorities to send the headless statue to Kaohsiung

Staff writer, with CNA

Fo Guang Shan Monastery founder Master Hsing Yun, third left, and Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage Director Li Xiaojie, second left, attend a ceremony at the monastery in Kaohsiung yesterday to mark the reunion of the head of a Buddha statue with its torso from Youju Temple in China’s Hebei Province.

Photo: CNA

The head of a Buddha statue — reportedly stolen 20 years ago from Youju Temple in China’s Hebei Province — was reattached to its body on Saturday, thanks to an anonymous Taiwanese art collector.

In a ceremony at Kaohsiung’s Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山), thousands of Buddhists celebrated the repair of the discombobulated 1,600-year-old statue — more than 1,500km from its original home.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery founder Master Hsing Yun (星雲法師) said the return of the statue to its original state was a milestone in the relationship between Taiwan and China, and indicated the close ties of Taiwanese and Chinese Buddhists.

The monastery was given the head of a Buddha statue last year, Fo Guang Shan said.

Research revealed that it was the head of the Youju Temple statue.

To reconstitute the statue, Fo Guang Shan Monastery first had to gain consent for the repair from the donor of the head before persuading Chinese authorities to transport the headless statue to Kaohsiung.

Hsing Yun said the donor of the head attended the ceremony, but preferred to remain anonymous.

Hsing Yun described the donor’s good deed as an example of “giving without expecting anything in return.”

China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage Director Li Xiaojie (勵小捷) said at the ceremony that the statue was not only of religious and artistic importance, but also a testament to the benevolence of the donor.

He said the repair would go down in history as evidence of the potential for cooperation between Buddhists on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The statue is to be on display at Fo Guang Shan Monastery until spring next year, when it is scheduled to be returned to Yuoju Temple.

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