STAFF AT A Buddhist temple in the Northeast yesterday denied claims on social media that they had sold a three-metre-long head of a Buddha statue to an antique dealer.
"It’s groundless. The spread of such information has ruined our reputation,” Arj Ekkaphan, a layman assistant at Buddha Nimit Temple in Nakhon Phanom, said.
The claim that a temple in Tha Uthen district had disposed of the artwork for Bt20,000 for use as a decoration at a hotel or restaurant, with an image of the awe-inspiring head, “went viral” on the Net.
Many distressed Buddhists shared the message in the hope of attracting the attention of authorities.
Soon enough, not just officials but curious individuals flocked to Buddha Nimit Temple to view the Buddha head that lies in front of its bell tower.
‘Only 20 years old’
“Preliminary examinations show the article is a little over 20 years old. It’s not considered a historical object,” Laddawan Thipsing of the Fine Arts Department said.
A historical piece by law must be over a century old.
Village chief Lampoei Chanapoj said this statue was cast in 1988 as part of a Buddhist’s plan to erect a grand Buddha statue that, together with its base, was designed to stand 29 metres high. However, due to poor construction of the base, the statue collapsed and broke apart.
“No one was killed in the accident but the temple has no funds to rework on the statue,” he said.
Arj said the Buddha-statue head was left where it had |fallen down for many years |until a monk from another province visited the temple |and noticed it.
“The monk has expressed a willingness to repair the Buddha-statue head but plans to move it to a temple in Amnat Charoen,” he said.
Although the false reports about the temple was upsetting, there may be a happy ending.
“I hope the news coverage, which started from rumours, will spur donations for the restoration of this Buddha head,” he said.