Meteorite Nazi Buddha Exposed as Likely Fake
2012-10-24 0:00

From: Spiegel

The discovery sounded like a sensation: A statue of a Buddha, allegedly 1,000 years old and collected by the Nazis in Tibet, had been carved out of a piece of meteorite. Now, however, it looks as though only the latter detail is true. The work is likely a fake produced at some point during the 20th century.

It was a story that rapidly circled the globe at the end of September. A statue of Buddha, allegedly collected by the Nazis during a late 1930s expedition to Tibet, had been carved out of meteorite. Referred to as the "Iron Man," the 24 centimeter-tall figure with a swastika on its chest was thought to be 1,000 years old. The statue’s previous owner, researchers wrote in their Sept. 27 report, had said that it was brought to Germany by the SS expedition led by ethnologist Ernst Schäfer.

Many experts, however, have begun to doubt that version of events. For one, many elements of the carving are not consistent with Buddha statues created a millennium ago. Furthermore, Schäfer was nothing if not precise. While many of the objects he brought back have been lost, his list of the more than 2,000 items he collected remains -- and the Iron Man does not make an appearance.

Indeed, there are growing indications that it might be nothing but a fake.

Achim Bayer of Dongguk University in Seoul has written a scathing analysis of the statue -- available in English from the Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg -- in which he points out several indications that the statue was likely produced in Europe sometime between 1910 and 1970. He writes that several of the statue’s features, including its "European shoes," the trousers it is wearing and the full beard carved on its chin rather than the thin, wispy beards generally associated with deities in Tibetan and Mongolian art, testify to its more recent origin. In total, Bayer lists 13 such inconsistencies.


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