Da Nang, Vietnam – The Marble Mountains

Article written January 25th, 2020 by Kyle Tortora

My first trip to Vietnam was in 1998. I was a 22 year old backpacker just out of college, exploring the country without a care or worry in my mind. Vietnam had the distinct smell of salt water and the aroma of food.  It’s as if their unmistakable flavor of fish sauce had permeated the air and surrounded you at every turn.  Twenty three years later it still has that same smell I remember which immediately took me back with nostalgia to my backpacking days.  

I came to Da Nang to visit my white marble statue maker, Lan, and her family. Da Nang is situated at the base of what is known as the marble mountains, a place famous for its abundance of quality, pure white marbles. Lan and I have worked together for 15 years.  She was the first artisan I worked with in Vietnam. Her entire family is involved in the business. Her brother operates the workshop, where all the statues are produced and her cousin, who is the master carver, is responsible for the faces and all the intricate details of the statues.  

All these years later I was still impressed with the quality of the Lan’s sculptures compared to that of other workshops in the area. Seeing her 22 foot Kwan Yin statue with my own eyes for the first time, I was completely blown away!  She has this gossamer, realistic quality where it looks as if her robes are made of pure silk gently swaying in the breeze.  The statue is so lifelike I found myself forgetting it was a 10,000 pound solid block of white marble.  Later that day I visited another workshop where I saw a large Kwan Yin statue carved by a different artist. It completely lacked the life and beauty inherent in Lan’s Kwan Yin sculpture. The Kwan Yin at Lan’s workshop is stunning and has that special untouchable something that makes a masterpiece a true masterpiece. 


 She has this gossamer, realistic quality where it looks as if her robes are made of pure silk gently swaying in the breeze.  The statue is so lifelike I found myself forgetting it was a 10,000 pound solid block of white marble.

By standing next to Kwan Yin and gazing up at her one can truly appreciate her immense beauty.

Sadly, I arrived the week before Tet or Chinese New Year and all the artists were on break. In planning my trip I knew about Tet and figured being there a week before would give me time to see the artists before the shops would close. I was very wrong, no one was working. I found the workers take off 2 weeks prior to Tet and then a month following.  Instead of hearing the incessant clinking sound of chisel on stone all I heard were birds chirping and wind blowing through the palm trees.  All the carvers had gone home to their villages to visit with family and friends. It is the equivalent of going to Europe in August when everyone flocks to Mediterranean beaches.  

Standing on top of a block of white marble where a God waits to be born.

One thing that I am always impressed, when I visit any stone worker, is seeing the raw block of stone they have yet to begin carving. Climbing over them you can appreciate their pure size and mass. The raw white marble blocks are massive, larger than any I have seen in India or Indonesia.  It is an amazing talent a stone artist has to visualize the god or goddess that is sleeping within the stone, waiting to be rendered by the hammer and chisel. But that is exactly what these artists do and I am amazed by it every time I see it.

Later in the day Lan and her brother took me to a beautiful seafood lunch on the beach and a leisurely stroll through the historic town of Hoi An for Vietnamese coffee.  For anyone visiting Vietnam, Hoi An is a must see.  Even though you are navigating your way through a maze of tourists it still has an old world charm visible through its tiny avenues and beautiful colonial architecture.  Walking around the old streets I appreciate knowing that I will be returning to this part of the world for the rest of my life.  I often think of how fortunate I am to be doing the work that I am doing…..today was one of those days.

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.

Easter Island Moai Head Sculpture in Encinitas, California

   In April 2011, an Easter Island Head replica, or Moai, was carved out of an 11-foot Torrey pine stump in Encinitas’ Swami’s Park.  This sculpture was declared a temporary public work of art, due to the nature of the carved material and environmental decay.  Over a year later, the statue still stands proudly, showing only some signs of beetle infestation.
The sculpture at Swami’s is a beautiful and fitting representation of the original Polynesian monolithic statues carved from stone, mostly between the years 1250 and 1500 CE, on the Chilean Easter Island. The Moai were created by the indigenous Rapanui to honor their deified ancestors.  They are commonly referred to as “tiki” or “Easter Island heads”, due to their disproportionate size, although they are whole-body statues.  Moai are known for their large, broad noses, strong chins and rectangle-shaped ears.  Normally, the statues are in a squat position, with arms resting.
The iconic sculptures have been theorized in the news recently.  According to a report in the July issue of National Geographic, a study suggests that the massive stone heads were ‘walked’ with ropes by the natives, from the main quarry to stone platforms around the island’s perimeter.  Much mystery and intrigue has surrounded Easter Island and the transportation of the original 33-foot tall, 80-ton structures.  Rapanui lore says that the Moai, animated by mana, a spiritual force conveyed by powerful ancestors, were not transported; they walked.
Given the history the Rapanui endured, such as, famine, civil wars, slave raids and deforestation, the resilience of the Swami’s Easter Island head sculpture is appropriate.  Attempts will be made to preserve the wood statue, but only time will tell, if and when, nature will get the best of it.

View Lotus Sculpture’s Large Moai Sculpture for Sale

Large Moai Head Statue
Enormous Custom 14 foot Moai head statue
Moai Head Easter Island Black Marble Sculpture
4 foot tall Black Marble Easter Island Moai Head
Polished Pink Granite Easter Island Moai Statue
Large Pink Granite 7.5 foot tall Polished Moai Head
Big Easter Island Moai Head Statue
Custom Big 8 foot tall Easter Island Moai Statue