'Meteor Buddha' statue said a modern fake

Oct. 24, 2012 at 8:55 PM
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SEOUL, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A statue that made worldwide news as the "Iron Man" and was purportedly carved from a meteorite a thousand years ago is likely a modern fake, a researcher says.

While supposedly made by the 11th-century Bon culture of Tibet and looted in the 20th century by a Nazi ethnologist, incorrect "pseudo-Tibetan" features of the carved Buddha figure suggest it's a modern European fake, Buddhism specialist Achim Bayer of the University of Seoul said.

The 10-inch statue bears 13 features Bayer said are easily identifiable by experts as being incorrect for its purported origins, including the statue's shoes, trousers and hand positioning, as well as the fact that the Buddha has a full beard rather than the "rather thin" facial hair usually given to a deity in Tibetan and Mongolian art, Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Bayer said he believes the statue to be a European counterfeit made sometime between 1910 and 1970.

However, he said, the meteorite part of the story is true, as the statue is made a rare form of iron with a high content of nickel found only in meteorites.

"I would like to briefly address readers from outside our field and clarify that there is not any controversy among experts about the authenticity of the statue, the 'lama wearing trousers', as I would like to call it," Bayer said.

"Up to date, no acknowledged authority in the field of Tibetan or Mongolian art has publicly deemed the statue authentic and the issue has to be considered uncontroversial."

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