Zen Garden Buddha Statues: Bringing Serenity & Beauty to Your Outdoor Space

“Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.”
~Chinese Proverb~

 

With summer in full swing, it is a pleasant time to enjoy nature and relax in your garden.  A way to enhance and bring tranquility to any environment is to place a Buddha statue, particularly a portrayal of Buddha in a meditative state.  The positive and peaceful energy of a Zen Buddha sculpture helps keep you in balance and harmony.

First, to accentuate your garden, and to create the best possible chi energy, the meditating Buddha should be seated on a pedestal off the ground.  With the lotus throne, or padmasana, this position signifies gratitude and humility.  Typically, the Buddha’s hands lies in his lap, one over the other, with thumb tips touching.  This is known as dhyana mudra of meditation.

Another step is to plant with odd numbers in your garden to create balance and “yang”.  Yang, which refers to the “sunny side”, is a masculine symbol and reflects the sun and day time.  Since odd numbers are yang, they are considered auspicious, with a multiple of nine bringing the most positive energy.

Most of the large, stone garden Buddha statues at Lotus Sculpture are one-of-a-kind; created by artists in Bali.  They are hand carved from lava stone, which is quarried from the volcanic mountains of Indonesia.  The lava stone is a solid stone that is perfect for any type of location and weather conditions – hot or cold, wet or dry.  The stone is versatile in that it can be colored in a wide spectrum of colors.  It can also be polished or unpolished giving it a clean or rough feel.  In humid conditions, when left untouched, it takes on a very mysterious, antique-look as you would see in the temple ruins of South East Asia.

Cruising for Ganeshas & Buddhas in Bali!

“My favorite days in Bali are spent on my rented motor scooter cruising through the markets, stores and back village workshops”
~Kyle~

 

Bali….I was amazed that I got through India without getting sick. In my 10 years of 15 trips to India I have managed to get a wide range of illnesses ranging from ordinary bugs to full-on, 105 degree temperatures. I dodged the bullet this trip! I was amazed! I jumped on the plane to Bali and patted myself on the back. Well done Kyle!

After arriving in Bali I sat down to a nice dinner at a respectable restaurant then quietly went to sleep that night. I awoke at 5am with an acrobat in my stomach. Yup, sick off the first meal I ate in Bali! That is what I get for counting my blessings to early! I spent the next day going through the lava stone workshops of my friend Christian, looking for quality Buddha statues that his family has been producing in Bali for the past 20 years. He consistently has the best quality Buddha carvings as well the best coloring for the statues. His artists can produce any color or texture in the stone. Each year I have seen a consistent improvement in the statues.

Lava stone Ganesh statue

On previous trips I have always shied away from Bali style Ganesha statues.  I was so used to the refined lifelike appearance of Ganesh in my travels through India, that the more crude Ganeshas of Bali did not seem attractive to me.  However, this year I opened my eyes and really saw the Bali style Ganesh for the first time and I liked what I saw.  There is a quote that I love about Ganesh;  “If you take home a stone and worship it in full faith, over a course of time you are bound to see the image of Ganesh.”  I truly saw Ganesh in the stone!  His fat almost tribal qualities are a perfect variation to the Indian style Ganesh.  As usual I bought too many of them!  I can never say no to a good statue!  In roaming thru his workshop I was consistently fighting back the desire to sit down and go to sleep or just fall over.  But I made it through the day…then on to Ubud, the cultural center of Bali to visit my Buddha wood carvers!

6 foot wooden buddha statue

My favorite days in Bali are spent on my rented motor scooter cruising through the markets, stores and back village workshops in Ubud. I must go into 30-40 shops a day. It is not easy to find quality wood Buddhas in Bali. There are hundreds of shops selling wood Buddhas however, over the years I have only found a small handful of artists who actually carve with true feeling for the work they are doing. Two artist that consistently make beautiful Buddhas are Mr Sayub and Mr Wayan. Wayan and his son carve my large standing Buddha statues on a blooming lotus base. This year he has carved two of them for me. One 8 feet tall and the other 6 feet tall. The detail and time taken on the flowing robes of the Buddha set his Buddha apart from other standing Buddhas!

wooden buddha statues in Bali

My other artist who I always look forward to seeing is Sayub. He makes small Buddha statues each usually with a very unique hand position. The thin fingers of each statue and minute detailing in the robes in my opinion crown him the current king of Balinese wood work…at least for Buddha statues! I also managed to pick up some very large wood statues including a 7 foot Kwan yin, 8 foot meditating Buddha and two other 7 foot standing Buddhas. After a couple of days of searching for Buddhas and cruising through rice fields on my scooter it was time to return to the coast.

I noticed in the shops in Ubud that there was some new metal work in Bali and I was determined to find out where they were being made. The statues were of Hindu gods and goddesses in various forms. The style was more similar in style to Cambodian Hindu and Buddhist statues with many arms and small weapons. I thus headed into Denpasar, the capital to check the markets. I knew I would not find the source here but I did find many shops that were selling the statues I was looking for. After many questions to many dealers I finally nailed down the source of the metal Hindu statues which I went to the following day. My search was rewarded and I choose some beautiful images. My favorite being a dancing Vishnu statue like no other I have seen before. The statue reminded me more of a Nataraja figure. I find it so fulfilling to start on a search for new sculpture mediums and designs and then achieve my goal. There is nothing like finding new artists!!!

By this time in my trip I really needed a reward. I spent the past 23 days working, flying, scooting, exploring every day and deserved a day off. I went to the quite surf beach of Padang Padang and got a bungalow on the ocean and spent the next day surfing and enjoying the ocean and stillness. My body and mind appreciated the day of mental tranquility and relaxation! Here is a video I shot from my bungalow. Yes, it was paradise!

Then I was off to Bangkok, Thailand and the last leg of my trip!

Exporting Buddha Statues from Thailand

Statues from Thailand of Lord Buddha

Thai Buddha Statues

As a Thai customs formality, Buddha sculptures are restricted to be exported from Thailand. The original law was established to protect Thailand’s ancient religious artifacts and antique Buddha images from being stolen and sold illegally. Until recently, this law was not actively enforced on newly made Buddha statues. Vendors could easily ship Thai Buddhas throughout the world.

  • “In November 2010, Lotus Sculpture experienced one of our containers filled with Buddha sculptures being confiscated en route to the USA by Thai customs officials.”

In November 2010, Lotus Sculpture experienced one of our containers filled with Buddha sculptures being confiscated en route to the USA by Thai customs officials. It was a complete loss with no way to get the confiscated sculptures back.    The USA’s Patriot Act has paid for a large X-Ray machines to examine every container shipped from Bangkok to the US. When US or Thai officials scan a container and see outlines of Buddha statues they now confiscate the contents of the container. This may lead to an end of importing Thai Buddhist images altogether, which would be a tragedy to all involved; Buddhists who worship Lord Buddha; business who sell Buddha statues; and especially for the artists who rely on selling Buddhist art to earn a living.