Cultural Arts Review 10/1:Statue carved from a Meteorite

Posted on October 2, 2012 by


Recently a statue that was first found in Tibet, was discovered by scientists that it was carved from a meteorite. Know as the “Iron Man”, the statue was found in the late 1930’s before WWII began. “Iron Man” was found by Ernst Schafer. Schafer who was a zoologist and ethnologist, was visiting Tibet on an expedition which was funded by Nazi Germany. Schafer and his team were sent to Tibet to research about the Aryan race, but instead found this statue and brought it back to Germany. However, the statue was kept away from the public and scientists for many years because it was part of a private collection owned by its previous owner. That owner died in perished in 2007 and the statue was put up for an auction. The new owner then allowed scientists to conduct research on it and find out exactly what it was made out of. According to Geologist Elmar Buchner, the primary scientist who made the conclusion on the meteorite, stated that the statue was made out of a meteorite that came in contact with the earth about 15,000 years ago between Siberia and Mongolia. Buchner concluded that the meteorite is very similar to steel, making the statue very hard, and also is made up of about 16% nickel. The statue was then created about 1,000 years ago.

This piece of art has to do with our class because of the Buddhist aspect related to the statue. According to sources, the statue is an image of the Buddhist God Vaisravana. It is presumed that the Nazis were attracted to the symbol on the stomach of the statue. On the stomach is a left-sided swastika and that is used as a symbol of good luck and success, where as the Nazis used a right-sided swastika. However, some people do not believe that this is a statue portraying the Buddhist God.


Qing-Zhu Yin does not believe that this a Buddhist statue. Mr. Yin said “I am not a historian. But the ‘iron man’ does not look like a Buddha to me from my cultural background,” he said. “It looks more like a warrior with a sword … (a) resemblance of Genghis Khan. … I have never seen a Buddha with a sword or knife.” in response to the Buddhist God accusations. This offers an interesting twist and another view into the situation where many have believed that this is actually a Buddhist God. No matter what this statue is supposed to be portraying, I found it interesting none the less. The historical background with the Nazis attached to it and also that it is the only statue made from a meteorite that is portraying a man are what really caught my eye. I feel like this statue is portraying the Buddhist God Vaisravana. But the question is do you?


Posted in: Buddhism