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China Daily Website

4 Chinese Buddha statues stolen in Japan

Updated: 2012-08-03 20:10
By Zhang Kun (

Four Buddha statues from China were stolen during an exhibition in Shizuoka, Japan, in April.

Their creator — sculptor Zhu Bingren — alerted Japanese police on Jul 31.

The statues disappeared "into thin air", Zhu said.

They were among the exhibits brought from Zhejiang to Shizuoka for a special show to celebrate the 30th anniversary of friendship between the two provinces, Zhu told China Daily on Friday.

The missing Buddha statues, each 45 centimeters high and weighing 20 kilograms, are one-fifth-size replicas of those sitting in a copper Buddhism hall designed for the renowned Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, in East China's Zhejiang province.

The original copper Buddhism hall that stands as high as 12 meters has the Guinness World Record for the world's largest copper Buddhism hall.

Zhu's replicas had been in his private museum in Hangzhou since 2004.

"The replica copper Buddhism hall and the statues sitting in it were abroad for the first time on exhibition in April, and I am distressed because of what happened — there is no way I can measure the value of my loss," Zhu said.

The molds had been destroyed as soon as he completed the statues so that no more replicas could be made.

The statues disappeared while the exhibition was closing after three days, when they were brought out of the copper hall for packing and preparation for shipment back to China.

"In broad daylight, within 10 to 20 minutes, they were gone. No surveillance camera showed how it happened," Zhu said.

Zhu said he tried to keep the loss quiet, and asked local agencies and friends to help him find them. Zhu and the exhibition organizers from Hangzhou were afraid that they were mistakenly packed in the wrong boxes, but recently Chinese customs confirmed that the statues were not among the goods shipped from Japan.

Disappointed, Zhu finally decided to notify the Japanese police and ask them to investigate the loss.

According to Global Times, the price of Buddha statues has risen drastically in the black market in Japan for the past decades, which has resulted in more statue thefts in temples all over the country.

Zhejiang Online, a website of the Zhejiang Daily News Group, quoted sources from Lingyin Temple as saying that the original statues, which stand as high as 2 meters in the grand hall of copper, are safe.