Buddha Figurines: Interchangeable Identities

Whether you are into collecting eclectic art, or just interested in owning an Oriental sculpture or two, Buddha figurines are the perfect choice. They are guaranteed to add a touch of culture to any setting, be it your mantle piece or sitting serenely amongst the blades of grass in your garden. 'Buddha figurines' is a generic term that includes two types of statues; those of the original Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, known simply as 'The Buddha', the founder of Buddhism, and those of Budai, a happy-go-lucky itinerant monk from Chinese folklore, who is seldom seen without his cloth travel bag. The Buddha is typically shown as a slim, tall character sitting in deep meditation, whereas the other is a jolly overweight character always wearing a wide smile and not much else. Both are now known as Buddha, although the exact point of merging of the two when Buddhism reached the West is unknown.

Art And The Buddha: Culture And Commercialism

Buddha figurines are miniature replicas of life-sized or larger than life statues that adorn every Buddhist abode of worship. The idea of having a miniature version is to be able to worship in a smaller setting such as one's home. Nowadays, with Buddhism gaining more popularity among Western nations for its culture and art, if not for the religious beliefs and concepts, a plethora of Buddhist artifacts have flooded the market. Some of them may be genuine antiques from decades, or even centuries ago, but most figurines are fresh from the sculptor's table. A figurine is valued first and foremost for its antiquity, and subsequently for its material composition, intricacy of the carving, and size, in that order. A genuine wooden figurine dating from the 19th century can cost up to $8000 or more, depending on the other attributes, whereas a newly carved piece can be yours for less than $250. Typically, each antique will have a story behind it, and if you buy it from a genuine antique dealer, such information will be readily available. However, there are some pieces that are suddenly discovered in an old abandoned temple or someone's attic that have to be carbon-dated to determine the age; these may not have known histories even though they are antiques in the true sense of the word.

Buddha Figurines: The Forms

Some of the materials used in carving, sculpting or molding Buddha figurines are gold, sterling silver, copper, and other pure metals. They can also be made of copper alloys like brass and bronze. Naturally, the more inexpensive ones may be made of any malleable metal readily available to hand. Wood is another perfect medium for carving, and several expensive exotic woods may be used for this purpose. Wooden Buddha figurines are sometimes gilded, to give the effect of wearing jewelry. However, these are mere embellishments that are not historically accurate, because although The Buddha was a genuine Prince, of royal blood, he had given up all his worldly possessions in his pursuit of 'Nirvana', or enlightenment. A more authentic representation would be of him wearing a bead necklace.

Buying A Genuine Antique Buddha Figurine

Buddha figurines and statues can usually bought from traditional Thai, Tibetan, or Japanese Buddhist stores. If there aren't any in your neighborhood, you can search the internet for genuine suppliers of Buddhist art from these countries. There are wonderful traditional online stores hosted by Buddhists of Thai origin, such as Siamese-dream dot com. They are first level importers, which means, unlike mediators or agents, they can provide very deep discounts, and their merchandise is the most likely to be authentic. The site is also certified secure by COMODO.

Buddha Figurines As Heirlooms

Because antique Buddha figurines are extremely long-lasting, they make perfect investment sense as well. Their value, resident in their antiquity and composite material, will only increase over time, and they can be bequeathed to successive generations to become family heirlooms. This way they can serve the needs of today by providing a serene ambiance in your home, as well as the needs of tomorrow by letting you be able to leave something of value to generations of your descendants.