By Heer Paresh Kothari
We live in a very stressful world where many of us are desperately seeking peace of some sort.
One way of experiencing peace is by creating it in our own home through decor that promotes a peaceful way of being.
Some of us create a point of focus to concentrate all their energies to meditate upon to invite good energy into the home.
Feng Shui practitioners would recommend idols, like those of Buddha or Ganesha for that purpose.
Buddha Idols And Ganesha Statues
Over the last decade, Buddha and Ganesha statues have become an eternal favourite among art connoisseurs and even followers.
The followers create the deities they love in various forms. They could be standing, sitting, reclining, dancing, or even in the form of water features.
With the market opening up we have an array of Ganesha figurines and Buddha idols from the world over.
Moreover, there are some people don’t really mind spending a fortune on getting that one single piece that would give a sacred feel to the home.
Home decor stores in various parts of South and South East Asia, have numerous statues of our beloved deities, in an assortment of forms, shapes, sizes, and made out of a variety of media.
“People are hot on Ganeshas because artisans can get really creative with Ganeshas. As a deity, it can be perceived in any form. One can use a variety of mediums to create a Ganesha. As for the Buddhas, one can find a widespread variety owing to the spread and reach of Buddhism.” states Sanjana Bahl, store owner, Nostalgia, Alibaug.
With so many of them available in the market how does a discerning buyer tell the difference? Here are a few tips to select the best statues found in various locations in East Asia.
The Idols Of Thailand
If you visit the highlands of Thailand you’ll find some of the most stunning pieces of Buddhas and Ganeshas in absolutely any form.
The Ganeshas are intricately carved and Thai Buddha’s are finished with an interesting play of lacquered gold leaf (24 carats) and a sprinkling of colourful mirrors.
But you need to remember that all that glitters is not gold. The wood used is not of high quality. Local mango or Nadu woods are used to create the statues.
The upside is that you can bargain heavily if buying from the night bazaars of Chaing Mai, or Bangkok.
Statues Of India And Nepal
The vibrancy of Indian ethnicity has left its mark on elaborately impressed pieces of marble Ganesha and Buddha statues.
The brass from Moradabad is highly renowned but does not do well in humid weather conditions. Brass is also high on maintenance.
Silver prices are rocketing, yet one can find stunning bejewelled pieces of silver Ganeshas and Buddhas, with precious and semi-precious stones.
The North Eastern frontiers offer very graceful statues of Buddha and Ganesh, carved out of Yak bone.
There are also stunning pieces churned out of eight metal mixes. These statues from India definitely highlight its deep-rooted faith in religious idols.
Sri Lankan Idols
As you go down South to Sri Lanka, you’ll witness art at its best. The craftsmen here are known for their elaborate featuring.
They carve the most stunning Buddhas and Ganeshas in teak and mahogany. The artisans carve the piece all over (front and back), intricately finishing it in warm hues of browns.
Statues from Sri Lanka usually come with a certificate authenticating the legitimacy of the excellence of wood used.
Because of their high quality, the Buddhas from this region are expensive and can be found in very few places around the country.
While other regions excel in wood carving, the artisans of Bali excel in wood and stone carvings.
Being a volcanically active country one can easily source the volcanic soft stone available in white and black in this region. Artisans have to be very careful while carving on this medium, as it crumbles easily.
The natural hard stone is indeed very tough to carve. Usually life-size pieces are made out of hard stone. Because of the high density of this material transportation becomes difficult.
Bali also specializes in producing wonderful statuettes out of limestone, and a cement and granule mix. These artefacts made of stone (apart from volcanic stone) can withstand any weather.
As far as wood is concerned, the most exotic woods are is found in this region, from hibiscus (a two-toned wood) to crocodile wood, mahogany, teak, and even ebony.
The finish of the works in this region is beautiful and bucolic. One can follow the veins of the wood through the carvings.
The islands of Indonesia are well known for Batik imprints. Some of the Buddhas and Ganesha’s are finished with a lovely Batik print, depicting good luck, marriage, or childbirth.
The Balinese are also known for using obscure materials like eggshells, and resin in their statues.
China’s Laughing Buddhas
In China, the Buddha acquires a whole new form. Unlike Bali or India, the Chinese specialize in porcelain and polyresin.
Laughing Buddha statues, with appropriate symbols like the ingots, and money bags, are considered auspicious and symbols of good luck.
Some other embellishments unique to China include the use of semi-precious stone like Jade. The Chinese tradition also promotes the gifting of gold figurines on any auspicious occasion.
Where To Place Your Statue
While buying a Buddha or Ganesha statue for your home can prove to be tricky, choosing where to place it could prove even more difficult.
One must make sure that it doesn’t clash with the decor. A brighter piece could be placed on a high pedestal, against bright light.
The more authentic and bucolic pieces could have simpler settings. Last but not least, you must always get value for your money. This will only happen if you know exactly what you are buying.