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The usage of different types of stone makes for particuarly fine Buddha images here we detail some of the world's finest stone Buddha statues and images.

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 Stone Buddhas Statues

In ancient history various forms of stone were the most common material for the creation of Buddha statues, sculptures and images. Different type of stones used for carving include sandstone, pumice, limestone, marble, basalt, alabaster, chalk and soapstone.

Here we detail a number of the stone Buddhas from around the world.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” Pericles 

The stone Buddhas of Usuki City , Japan

Stone Buddhist Statues in China -  a Long Series of Stone Buddhas

Stone Buddhas in Korea 

The Stone Buddhas of BamyanAfghanistan

Arresting the Stone Buddha – a Zen parable

The stone Buddhas of Usuki City , Japan

The stone Buddhas of Usuki City in Oita Prefecture were carved in stone during the 12th to 14th centuries. There are two types of stone Buddhas, some are carved into the rock face on the hillsides, whilst others of the stone Buddhas are sculpted from free standing rocks. There are six groups of stone Buddhas  in the Nakao/Fukada district, including the Hoki, Dogasako, Sannozan and Furuzono , with more than 60 individual stone carvings in all. Also just a short distance away in the Maeda district, there is a set of seven stone Buddhas.

Since the Usuki stone Buddhas have been carved from soft stone that weathers easily, they have been badly damaged over time. Work to restore and conserve the stone Buddhas was carried out from 1980 to 1994, and subsequently, 59 of the stone Buddhas were designated in 1995 as National Treasures, the first stone Buddhas ever to be receiving this coveted status in Japan.

Wood carvers who usually specialized in carving wooden Buddha statues are thought to have carved most of the work in the stone because, unlike usual stone Buddhas, the finest works, especially the stone Buddhas of Dai-nichi Nyorai  in Furuzono, resemble carved wood statues of the late Heian period .The stone head of the Dai-nichi Nyorai sculpture fell off the body of the Buddha and lay on the ground for a long time as a symbol of Usuki City.

During the restoration project of the stone Buddhas , it was decided to put the head back on the body, so the stone head of the Dai-nichi Nyorai statue  once again adorns the body.

Stone Buddhist Statues in China -  a Long Series of Stone Buddhas

In the 1,000 Buddha Statue Hall of Lingyan Temple in Changqing, Shandong Province, the 40 coloured clay statues of Buddhist artists are life-size, with various expressions according to their different ages, experiences and dispositions.

In the Mount Baoding Caves located in Dazu County, Sichuan, there are thousands of stone statues sculpted in the Southern Song Dynasty. The stone statues are grouped, instead of being placed in separate niches, and tell the story of the Buddha’s life and enlightenment.

The stone carvings in the mausoleum of Emperor Wang Jian of the Former Shu Dynasty are thought to be the best stone statues of this kind. In the main tomb, there is a stone coffin platform with reliefs of musical performers carved in the stone on all four sides. These stone sculptures are very lifelike, and provide important reference material for the study of ancient Chinese musical arts.

In the rear stone chamber is an 86-cm-high seated statue of Emperor Wang Jian. This stone statue is of great value, for it is the only stone statue of a Chinese emperor made in his times that has ever been found.

Stone Buddhas in Korea   


The only temple cave in South Korea is located at the foot of Mt.Hamwol, Gulgulsa. This temple was built out of solid stone rock during the 6th century by Saint Gwang Yoo and his monks, and was designed according to Indian architectural styles.

On the top of the temple stands a stone sculpture of the Maya Tathagata Buddha and surrounding this stone statue are twelve rock caves which are used as a prayer sanctuary. Seven of the twelve rock cave sanctuaries are still standing today. Golgulsa’s main attraction is the stone sculpture of the Maya Tathagata Buddha and the Gwaneum Cave.

This stone Buddha statue displays the characteristics of the Shilla Buddha, and is over 4 metres high. The stone Buddha has his hair in a topknot, with a serene smile, narrow eyes, small lips, and has a long narrow nose. To protect the stone sculpture from the elements, a glass ceiling has been constructed in the GwaneumCave, which is the largest sanctuary of the seven extant caves.

The main stone Buddha of this cave is the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, and the cave walls are inscribed with dedications to the 108 meditations of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Inside the GwaneumCave, the entire interior from ceiling to walls is carved entirely from stone. Golgulsa is unlike any other stone temple of the period. The road to the temple is very steep as you ascend the stone cliffs. Safety ropes and railings surround Golgulsa. An even more perilous climb up a long set of stone stairs finally leads up to the caves, including GwaneumCave, JijangCave, and Yaksa Cave.

Thus the Maya Bathgate Stone Buddha can only be seen after climbing the rock walls.

The Stone Buddhas of Bamyan, Afghanistan

The Buddhas of Bamyan were two 6th century monumental stone statues of standing Buddhas carved into the cliff side in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan. The stone Buddhas were built in 507, with the larger stone Buddha in 554. These stone statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art.

The main bodies of the stone Buddhas were carved directly from the sandstone cliffs, but some details were modelled in mud mixed with straw. This coating on the stone, wore away long ago and was painted to improve the expressions of the faces, hands and folds of the robes; the larger one was painted red whilst the smaller one was painted in multiple colours.

The lower parts of the Buddha statues' arms were constructed from the same mud-straw mix while supported on wooden frames.

The stone Buddhas were deliberately dynamited and destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were "graven idols”. International opinion was strongly condemnatory of the destruction of the stone Buddhas, which was viewed as an example of the intolerance of the Taliban. Japan and Switzerland, along with other countries, have pledged support for the rebuilding of the stone Buddha statues.

Arresting the Stone Buddha – a Zen parable

A shop keeper bearing fifty rolls of cotton on his shoulders stopped to rest beneath a shelter where a large stone Buddha was standing. He fell asleep at this spot, and when he awoke his goods had gone.  He immediately reported this to the police.

A judge named O-oka opened court to investigate. "That stone Buddha must have stolen the goods," said the judge. "He is supposed to look after the people, but he has failed to do this. Please arrest him."

So the police arrested the Stone Buddha and carried it into the court. A noisy crowd followed the stone statue, wanting to know what kind of a sentence the judge was about to impose.

When the judge appeared on the bench he rebuked the noisy crowd.  "What right have you to appear before the court laughing and joking like this? You are in contempt of court and I subject you all to a fine and imprisonment."

The people were quick apologize. "I shall have to impose a fine on you," said the judge, "but I will cancel it provided each one of you brings one roll of cotton goods within three days. Anyone who fails to do this will be arrested."

One of the rolls of cloth which the people brought was quickly recognized by the merchant as being his, and so the thief was easily discovered. The shopkeeper recovered his goods, and the cotton rolls were returned to the people and the Stone Buddha took care of his people. 

"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart." The Buddha

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