The main shrine room will contain a 12-foot high statue of Buddha Amitabha with 7-foot high statues of Guru Rinpoche and Lord Jigten Sumgon on either side. On the floors above will be a shrine to 8 tantric deities, with each of the 8 statues being 5 feet in height. Above this, the shrine to Dharma Protectors will contain 6 statues also 5 feet in height. On the top story of the main temple the 5 Buddha Families temple will contain a central 7-foot-high statue of Buddha Amitabha along with 4 other 5-foot-high Buddha statues.
The brass statues for the new Amitabha Foundation temple are being made using a traditional “lost wax” method. First, the statue is sculpted out of a hard wax.
Then the wax statue is covered in several layers of a clay and fiber mixture which is bound together and allowed to dry thoroughly, forming a rigid mold. For the largest statues the wax statue is cut into pieces before covering with the clay mold. Holes are then drilled into the bottom of the mold and it is heated up enough to melt the wax, which drains out of the holes.
The holes are then plugged and a molten mixture of copper containing 5% zinc is poured into the mold and allowed to harden. The mold is then removed and the brass pieces assembled, welded together and polished. At this point the statue is painted with gold, using a liquid mixture of gold foil rubbed together with mercury. After it is heated, the mercury boils off leaving a pure gold surface.
The 12-foot Buddha Amitabha statue will take 1 1/2 to 2 years to complete and will involve 5 craftsmen to sculpt the original wax statue, 2-3 to apply the clay mold, 5 to pour the copper mix, 3 to assemble and weld the parts together, and 10 to finish the carving, polishing and painting.
Because of the quality of the materials and the time and number of artisans involved in construction, each statue will cost around 100,000 Nepalese rupees, or US$1,250 per foot. The 12-foot Buddha Amitabha statue will cost approximately US$15,000. Rinpoche asks people to consider sponsoring one of these beautiful statues, or any of the hundreds of smaller statues to be located throughout the temple, all of which will be filled, consecrated and placed in the new Amitabha Foundation temples as objects of veneration and devotion and to facilitate dharma practice.
(Click on photos to enlarge)