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Temple First Maitreya Trinity 2

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Development of BTRTM Maitreya Statue
During the Sacred Buddha Tooth Exhibition in 2004 at Suntec Convention City, the main artifact used in our publicity material was the Maitreya in large stone (left).
Again, in the Sacred Buddha Tooth Exhibition in 2004 at Singapore Expo, the main artifact used in our publicity material was another Maitreya in large stone (left).
When Ven Shi Fa Zhao was in the one-year Dharma Retreat in 2003 at Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple, he began planning for the creation of BTRTM. Due to the narrow width of the site, he decided not to have the typical Mahayana Buddha Triad of most Chinese temples. Hence, the choice was to develop a Tang Dynasty Buddha Maitreya, as this was the prevalent Buddha of worship during the Tang era.

After researching through various publications, we found some Tang period Buddha Maitreya pictures. The Tang period Buddha Maitreya of Foguang temple in Mount Wutai, Shanxi, China was the basis for development.

These were given to Singaporean artist Mr Goh Ee Choo, along with a briefing of our requirements for him to prepare a sketch.
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This was developed and shown to Ven Shi Fa Zhao.

A small wood model was commissioned to China Chin Ting Enterprise Co Ltd, Fuzhou, China which arrived in March 2006. This was displayed in our showroom office at 293 South Bridge Road for evaluation and public feedback.

The required height of 15 feet for the Maitreya Buddha statue was computed from a visitor’s view standing at the temple’s mountain gate. A full size scale Buddha Maitreya Thangka was commissioned to ascertain the visual impact.

This was hung at the Sago Lane exhibition site for 8 months, from January to August 2006.

The design was also given to the interior consultant to develop the stage and backdrop.
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The initial design was then fine-tuned into the whole hall.
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The material for the Buddha statue was deliberated and Ven Shi Fa Zhao decided to use Taiwanese hinoke (Chamaecyparis obtusa var. formosana or Chamaecyparis taiwanensis). This cypress wood is often the preferred wood in East Asia for Buddha statues. It is grown for its very high quality timber in China, Taiwan and Japan, where it is used as a material for building palaces, temples, shrines, traditional theatres, table tennis blades and baths. The wood is lemon-scented, light pinkish-brown, with a rich, straight grain, and is highly rot-resistant.

We visited many wood carvers in China and Taiwan to view their workmanship. The carving of the BTRTM Buddha Maitreya Image was awarded to the renowned Taiwanese master carver Mr Chen Mingfeng of Taiwan Huangmu Art Center at Miao Li, Taiwan. Incidentally, Mr Chen was also the carver for Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple’s Medicine Buddha image.

A search was made through the many sawmills of Taiwan, but unfortunately, we could not find such a big piece of log. As the time required for this main feature of the temple was running out, it was decided to join several pieces of logs to get the desired size. Miraculously, we received a telephone call from Taiwan on October 2005 advising that such a log had been found that morning. The sawmill owner had forgotten about this log. It was a quarter of the original tree and he had sold 3 of the quarters about 20 years ago. As there was no buyer, he had placed the remaining piece into the sawmill pond.
He only noticed this piece when some buyers came to look for timber and he was lifting other logs from the pond. The instruction to purchase the log was immediately given by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao. Ven Shi Fa Zhao rushed to inspect the suitability of the hinoke log in October 2005.
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The final model was developed and the dimensions computed according to the view from the mountain gate. The design for the 2 accompanying Bodhisattvas was also firmed up.
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A polystyrene full scale model was made to ascertain the desired characteristics before carving commence. Ven Shi Fa Zhao inspected and fine tuned the polystyrene model in early November 2005.
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A commencement of wood carving blessing ceremony was held on 7 November 2005, led by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao with a number of Taiwan Sangha and Singapore devotees.
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After which, the careful and rigorous carving by Mr Chen Mingfeng and his team started in earnest. Ven Shi FaZhao made several trips to monitor the progress and fine tune the work. By 27 March 2006, the main features of the carving were completed.
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The Maitreya Sumeru Vault ceremony was held on 26 September 2006 to prepare the altar for receiving the Maitreya statue.
About Buddha Maitreya
Continue reading at:
Maitreya Singhasana Stage
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