Every time I visit my friend, Jew, I come away with more respect and admiration for him and what he does. He and I share a passion for the statues he creates, he with a firm love of making Buddha statues and I with a firm love for sharing them with the world.
Jew is a 40-year-old producer of Buddha sculptures in the small village of Nakom Pathom, Thailand, about an hour and a half north of Bangkok. Having known him for 12 years now I always knew that he took over the business from his father who started it 40 years ago. What I learned on this trip was that Jew had taken over a struggling business at the young age of 20. I was always under the assumption that his father had a thriving business that he took over and made better, but this was not the case at all. Jew’s father had only one artist working for him while Jew has created a prosperous business employing all the families in his surrounding village of almost 40 people. Click here to view his Buddha artists handcrafting Buddha statues. Every day he spends hours going over each of the statues to make sure they are being executed correctly. He is very concerned with the well being of his workers. He pays them well and wants them to succeed.
I first fell in love with his work because he had the best patinas on his sculptures that initially made me mistake them for antiques. He had beautiful antique patinas that no other producer was able to create. This is still the case today. He recently developed two new patinas of a stunning antique green and a deep red mixed with gold leaf. I went out to dinner with him last night and in his broken English he summed up his worldview…
“When I die, I cannot take money with me. Money paper…I make Buddha, I pray Buddha so I can be born next time.”
When I asked him about his customers he told me the majority of his business, besides Lotus Sculpture, comes from temples within Thailand. I asked him if he sold to the antique dealers of the Riverside mall in Bangkok who are known to sell fake antique Buddha statues. He leaned over to me and said, “No, I do not lie.”
This is who he is, he is the salt of the earth with a good heart. I love his family; his crotchety old mom who yells at me every time I see her in Thai I do not fully understand, his beautiful wife and 3 children. And most of all I love him!
I love meeting people with true passion. Passion for anything; painting, traveling, their children. Six years ago I was very fortunate to meet someone passionate about making Thai Buddha statues and his name is Jew.
In my first 4 years of traveling through Thailand I spent every waking hour of every day I was there looking for good honest people who make great Buddha statues for my budding business, Lotus Sculpture. Every year I was disappointed and had to settle for doing business with a factory who made quality, yet uninspired Buddha statues.
6 years ago while meandering through an amulet market in Bangkok I stumbled upon a great little shop full of beautiful Buddha statues that had both a sense of peace and radiated energy. They were not typical of the Buddhas sold anywhere else in the market. I was giddy from the start. Did I just find the people that I have been looking for the past 4 years? I stayed and enjoyed the day with the mother and wife of the owner who was away at the workshop. I made plans to come back the next day to meet the owner, Jew, and to go to see where he makes his Buddhas. When I met Jew I was outright ecstatic! He was young and passionate. In the hour and half drive to the outskirts of Bangkok to see his workshop I could feel that he was just as excited as I was. He was telling me about himself in his broken English and I was doing the same in my broken Thai. One thing I remember from our first meeting was that he was not trying to sell me anything. He was continually pointing out the Buddha statues that he loved and that he was proud of making. “No one else has this style. I am the only one making this Buddha.” he kept saying. And he was right. No one else has his quality and style in making Buddhas. Jew’s father started the workshop 25 years ago and Jew just took over the day to day operations of the workshop. He was very happy to have their first and only foreign customer!
“I just love making Buddhas. I’d make Buddhas even if I made no money.”
Besides the beautiful proportions and style of the Buddha statues Jeuw is a master of patina. He can make any statue have the most beautiful antique patina. I noticed this immediately that the color of his Buddhas was so authentic and stunning to look at. Even in his smaller Buddhas there is care given to the color of the piece. For this reason many known “Antique” shops in Bangkok purchase his Buddha statues. They sell his newly made sculpture as antiques to foreign tourists. I have seen many shops selling antiques in Bangkok that are not antique at all.
Six years later our relationship has grown immensely. Each year he shows me other styles he is making and Buddhas he had in mind for the future. Each night after our business is done we go out to a dinner on the Khoa Praya river in Bangkok and just talk Buddhas and life. One thing he reinforced to me was the passion he carries with him about Buddhas. “I just love making Buddhas.” He told me to start on my personal collection of Thai Buddha statues which I have done. He told me that there is no one else in Thailand who makes Buddhas like him. The younger generation has no interest in making Buddha statues and he feels that when he gets older there will not be anyone else who will carry on with his passion for the sculptures. I do hope he is wrong.
Lotus Sculpture has been blessed to have such a good person with Love for his Art and Lord Buddha supplying us with all our 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 machine 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.
Free UPS Ground Shipping SALE!
For a limited time we are offering free UPS Ground shipping on all orders within the 48 States. International customers will receive a 40% discount off the price of shipping. This discount will be extended to our Canadian customers as well!
Items weighing over 150 pounds including packing materials will be shipped using a freight service. Domestic Freight will be discounted by 35%!