Casting a truck sized buddha


The above selection of clips was made 

over the past three years.

Below you may read the commentary of the makers.

The huge statue was finished, delivered 

and initiated in Tibet by August 2015.

Buddha finished

Commenttary of the makers with above film:

‘This big statue must be in Tibet at the end of the year.  It has to go somewhere near the border with China. The truck will take maybe three weeks to get there. We must hurry. The monks of the monastery there prepared for it, redecorated the gompa. They’re already waiting some time for it to arrive.

 When this statue is finished, after the casting, carving, gold plating and so on, it will have to go in two parts to Tibet. The head goes separately from the body. We make it all ready here. The monks will do it themselves. They only have to lower the head into the neck.

This Buddha is truck sized. You see the wooden plate under the statue? That’s the size of the truck: the height and width. So we load the statue sideways into the truck. The head goes separately on the roof.

The trucks to Tibet are not very big. They have to drive through the Himalaya. On the Tibetan side the roads are good. Chinese construction. But here, on the Nepali side in many places there are holes in the road. Big holes. Especially after the rainy season. And that’s the time when this statue will have to go over there.

The head and the hands we can do later. Separately. And last we do the lotus throne.

We must hurry making the molds for the bigger parts. Because of the humidity. In a few months, the raining season will start and it will take much more time drying the clay molds.

Will we finish in time? We must. We made an agreement with the monks in Tibet. And then they went back. Probably everybody in their village paid for it, they're waiting for it to arrive. But on this big statue many men are working. Many things can go wrong. What can I promise? 

You see the corn, growing over there? That field belongs to my mother. After the corn is ready and taken in, only then we will build an oven there. Two ovens, really. One to melt the wax and bake the molds. And another one to melt the metal to pour into the empty clay molds.

We build a new oven each time. That’s how my grandfather did it. He needed the land every year to grow rice for us and corn for the animals. We still do it the same way. My grandfather was a farmer. He started doing the statue work on the side. He loved it, he had talent, but he really was a farmer.

For my brother and me it is the other way around. We make statues and we do the farming on the side. We still have his land. We still farm. Every start of the monsoon we stand in the fields in the mud. To plant the young rice plants. The whole family together. I just think of it as a week of sports. And every late afternoon. we take rest. Everybody together. With some rice wine. Ah, it’s fun. For a week.

Along the house we build a chimney. All the way to the top. The last years too many people built too many houses around here. So it’s better to make the chimney as high as possible. We don’t want people to complain. Also, we cannot suddenly stop.

Once we tart the casting, we do all at once. All the molds that are ready to melt and to cast. We saved them up, brought them together. Some are even from other statue makers in the neighbourhood.

The inside of this big wax model, the inside of this big Buddha, we filled with bricks. That’s how we start: first the bricks and then the wax. Because the warmer the weather, the softer the wax will be. And within a few months it will be much warmer. You only have to jump next to the wax image, and it will get out of shape. The bricks create more support.

So already this week we start making the molds for the big body parts. We should not wait much longer, it will be too warm.

Small statues, we still do the old way. We cover the wax models with dung and sand and some other stuff. And then let it dry for a few months. After that we bake the whole thing in the oven. That’s when the dung-mixture gets baked and the wax gets melted. Only then the empty mold is ready, we can pour the metal into it.

But the big statues we make in the new way, the modern way. We do not apply the dung-and-sand but we use new chemicals. It’s a kind of polyester, I believe.

Things change, you know. The old way takes more time and is much harder. Nowadays we also use gas, sometimes. It's faster and cleaner. But personally, I still like coal. Why? More time to think.

The same Tibetan monastery ordered one more statue. To make after this one has been accepted. It must be about 25% bigger. That’s a problem. It will be too big for the trucks to take it over there. We will have to make it in pieces, I guess. A few of us will have to go over there to put it together. But that will only be after two years or so. I have enough time to come up with an excuse not to go over there. I prefer to stay here. Start with the next project.’

Final result

Buddha finished







tAll photographs and texts © Kashba, Ais Loupatty & Ton Lankreijer. Webdesign: William Loupatty.