Visiting the Delhi Statue Shop
In Nov 2005, Khenpo Namdrol and David Lunsford visited the manufacturing shop for the large Guru Rinpoche statues in Delhi, India. They reviewed the work and met with the team of metal workers who cast, braze align and polish the many pieces that make up a single statue, and watched the final touches being put on the 10th and 11th statue. David described the process: “In one room of the small shop two workers were casting molten bronze into sand castings making many copies of one of the parts. These were released from the sand when they were still red hot and then they were stacked for brushing." These small pieces are all cast separately and them brought together and assembled into the main pieces. "When they start building the body, each piece is individually brazed into place with a torch and brazing rod. After a while the many pieces (each about 1 foot square) begin to form the pattern of the body. Each statue is made up of hundreds if not thousands of these individually cast pieces." By now the statue body weighs over 1500 pounds and needs to be moved to and fro with a block and tackle and the stabilizing efforts of 6 or so men.
Because the statue is so big, it is shipped as four separate pieces. The first piece is the lotus throne (Pema in Tibetan) which is assembled piece by interlocking piece, and left hollow in order to be filled with medicines, texts, images and other specially blessed substances. The heaviest piece is the body itself which comprises the general shape and robes. The third group is the head and hands ( cast as high detail pieces) and finally the fourth group is the trident (khatvanga in Tibetan) which rests in Guru Rinpoches arm, and the Vajra (Dorje) that is held in Guru Rinpoches right hand in the special mudra we all recognize.
When completely assembled, a statue will stand over 13 feet tall (20 feet with throne) and weigh over one ton.
The workshop has been recently expanded with a big work area so it can create 2 of these statues at a time, in about 2 month’s cycles. The most recently completed statues were shipped last winter, one to Bhutan to be placed at one of the monasteries Longchenpa founded there. The other was sent to Bodhgaya, India and was installed in the Nyingma Monlam temple there.
The next two statues will be ready at the end of March. These two statues are already allocated, one will likely go to Chatral Rinpoche's monastery and the other will likely be sent to Dordogne France to grace the grounds of Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche's house there. The statue for Dordogne is thanks to the "group formation" offering group, and will be the first of 5 the group plans to sponsor over the next 4 years. See the news clip on the group formation here.
During the same Delhi visit Khen Rinpoche Namdrol also visited another statue workshop that is handling the smaller Guru Rinpoche statues (3 feet high). Three of these smaller statues are scheduled to arrive in America on the west coast in April. One of them is allocated but the others are available to suitable sites complete with mantra. The small statues are available for four thousand dollars. The funds cover the cost of the statue, overseas shipping and the mantra used for packing the statue.
Contact Padmasambhava Global Project for World Peace soon if interested in one of these smaller statues.
Pictures will be posted soon from these visits and you can see for yourself the vast amount of hand work in these fine statues.