At both sides of the Maitreya Hall, you will also notice that the walls are filled with statues of the 100 Buddhas, blessing all who come to the BTRTM. Surrounding these Hundred Buddhas are the gilt Maitreya Gaus. Above hangs the gilt keman, framed by the Hundred Dragons.
Hundred Buddhas in BTRTM
Every Buddha statue of the 100 Buddhas has different mudras (hand signs) and holds different Buddhist implements or accessories. These symbolize their virtues and powers, both material and spiritual. These symbols can be divided into several categories, for example: lotuses (padma), thunderbolt scepters (vajra), bells (ghanta), wheels (chakra), weapons (ayudha), pots (kalasa), maces (gada), ritual accessories and instruments.
The depiction of Buddhas is generally based on the list of thirty two major signs and eighty minor indications of a ‘Great Being’ as outlined in the Lakkhana Sutta, the Brahmayu Sutta and the Agamas of the Chinese Buddhist canon. A so-called ‘Great Being’ refers to either a Buddha (such as Buddha Shakyamuni) or Chakravatin kings.
As always, historical and cultural factors must be taken into consideration when examining the diverse styles of Buddha images produced across Asia, where artists subjectively interpreted the Buddha in his or her own vision of the major signs and minor marks.
All the Hundred Buddha statues are crafted in accordance with traditional Chinese Buddhist iconography. Seated in padmasana on a double lotus base and throne, backed by a green-yellow aureole rimmed with flames, and surmounted by hair gathered up into an ovoid bun fronted by an orange ushnisha, they sport dark blue curled mounds of hair and an oval rounded chubby face. With slightly open eyes framed by thin tapering eyebrows and a protruding urna on their foreheads, they gaze gently downwards, exuding love and compassion with their gentle smiles. Their bodies are golden and they wear the three maroon-coloured ornate robes of an ordained person.
Occupying the left and right walls of the Hundred Dragons Hall, the statues are arranged in columns (two statues are stacked vertically to form one column), constituting twenty five columns on each side. These twenty five columns are sub-divided into two main groups of nine columns each and one smaller group of seven columns near the main entrance.
About Hundred Buddhas
In “The Sutra of the Names of the One Hundred Buddhas”
, the Buddha told Sariputra,“If a devout man or woman hears the name of the present Buddha and cherishes it, he/she will be protected from all evil, accumulate immense merit, accomplish the Bodhisattva’s way and gain knowledge of the past, present and future. Moreover, he/she will be good-looking with complete sense faculties and be in the presence of all Buddhas, thus swiftly attaining peerless Enlightenment.”
The same Sutra states that, “these Hundred Buddhas have the perfect ability to help the world and whoever cherishes the hundred holy names, learns by heart, recites, copies, makes offerings reverently and expounds these names will have his greed, hatred, ignorance and fear purified”.
Names of Hundred Buddhas
Clockwise direction facing Buddha Maitreya Trinity. (click serial no. to view)
About Buddha Images
In “The Sutra on the Production of Buddha Images”
of the Taisho Tripitaka 692, Robert H. Sharf’s translation:The Buddha said: “A person of this world who produces an image of the Buddha will, in a later life, have clear eyes and a handsome appearance; his body, hands, and feet will always be excellent. One born in heaven will also be exceptional among the gods in his purity, with exquisite eyes and countenance. Such is the fortune obtained by one who produce an image of the Buddha.”
“The place in which one who produces an image of the Buddha is born is devoid of defilement; the bodies of those born there are flawless. After death he will attain birth in the seventh Brahma heaven. Moreover, surpassing all the other gods, his handsome appearance and beauty will be without peer, and he will be honored by all the gods. Such is the fortune obtained by one who produces an image of the Buddha.”
Development of BTRTM Hundred Buddhas
These statues were handcrafted by Taiwan Huangmu Art Center at Miao Li, Taiwan.
Ven Shi Fa Zhao visited the workshop in 2005 to discuss and finalise the designs.
A commencement of wood carving blessing ceremony for the Buddha Maitreya and Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara was held on 7 November 2005, led by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao with a number of Taiwan Sangha and Singapore devotees. By then, some of the rough statues were ready.
Ven Shi Fa Zhao visited the workshop in January 2006 to review the carved sample for size, shape and quality.
Ven Shi Fa Zhao during another visit to the workshop to review the painted sample for colour and gold linings.
The completed Hundred Buddhas were shipped back to Singapore and temporarily housed at our Dining Hall, for final touchups.
The special lacquer cabinets housing the Hundred Buddhas and Maitreya Gaus were produced by China Chin Ting Enterprise Co Ltd, Fuzhou, China and shipped to Singapore for installation and final touchup works.
The special Japanese brocade cloth used for background was selected after numerous visits to Kyoto, Japan.
The sponsorship of each of these Hundred Buddhas was $100,000.
Kemans in BTRTM
Above each column of the statues of the Hundred Buddhas is hung a keman, resulting in twenty five kemans on each side, totalling fifty in the hall.
Each keman is an oval decorative gilt pendant disc with a central vertical thin ribbon motif dividing it into left and right areas. Both areas contain a small plain circular plaques with a repoussé Sanskrit character in the middle. These plaques, supported by lotuses, are surrounded by and connected to floral motifs such as tendrils, leaves, flower buds and flowers filling the rest of the internal space of the kemans. Suspended from the kemans are five ornamental strings of trinkets made of precious stones and other tiny floral pendants.
Except for the Sanskrit characters depicted, all the kemans are almost identical.
About Keman, with Kalavinka
A keman (Japanese : keman 華鬘) is a stylized garland, pendant disc, sort of cast in low-relief, open-work bronze or copper reflector hung in front of lamps or used for architectural decoration in Buddhist temples.
It usually features the Kalavinka (Sanskrit: Kalavinka, Japanese: Karyoubinga, 迦陵頻伽). Originally a sparrow-like bird that lived in the snowy mountains of the Himalaya range, reputed to possess a melodious voice. Later sutras state that it lived in the paradise (Gokuraku 極楽) of Amida 阿弥陀 Buddha. In pictorial representations, the karyōbinga has the head of a bodhisattva (bosatsu 菩薩) and the winged body of a bird. Its tail resembles the tail of a phoenix (hō-ō 鳳凰). Typically it holds a musical instrument. In Japanese art, the karyōbinga is found in a variety of forms:
They were handcrafted by Mr Takashi Kageyama of the Kageyama Seiskusyo Co Ltd from Tatsuta town, Moriyama city, Shiga prefecture, Japan.
The sponsorship of each keman was $6,000 with 50 kemans available. Bibliography:
- The Sutra of the Names of the One Hundred Buddhas
- Louis Frederic, Buddhism, Flammarion Iconographic Guides, 1995, ISBN 2-08013-558-9, pages 116
- William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2000, ISBN 81-208-0319-1, pages 236, 317 Kalavinka
- The Sutra on the Production of Buddha Images
- Japanese Buddhism – Apsaras, Celestial Beings, Heavenly Maidens & Musicians, Tennyo, Karyobinga.
- Physical characteristics of the Buddha – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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