Laos Buddha's missing
Lao Voices, citing the Vientienne Times reports that a total of 89 Buddha images from the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang remain missing after being stolen over the past seven years and sold to undiscerning buyers in Laos and Thailand.

Deputy Director of the Culture Department in Luang Prabang province, Mr Norseng Saivongduan, informed Vientiane Times of the situation after the findings of the Investigation Report of Stolen Buddha 2012 were released.


This bronze image is one of many missing from Luang Prabang temples.

The investigation was a joint operation between the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and Minobu University in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan.


The survey found the majority of stolen Buddha images were made of bronze or wood, with many being looted from Xiengthong, Phanluang, and Xiengman temples.

Mr Norseng said locals and some novices or monks were involved in the thefts, and many of the images were thought to have been sold to visitors from Thailand.

Some temples have no inventory of exactly how many Buddha images they house, and don’t always realise when one is lost or stolen.

The Fine Arts Department is now working with Minobu University to catalogue the Buddha images, and seeking funding to register all Buddha images in Luang Prabang for future preservation.

This year, the department will register the Buddha images and other valuable artefacts at seven temples, while waiting for government permission to undertake registration procedures at other temples.

Mr Norseng said they were taking other steps to prevent the theft of Buddha images, including working with the Lao Front for National Construction in Luang Prabang to educate novices and monks about the important role they can play in protecting and preserving such items.

The department will meet with village heads and temple abbots to stress the importance of taking special care of Buddha images, and the fact that some novices, monks and temple visitors may be involved in theft.

Novices involved in the theft of Buddha images will face serious consequences and be punished both according to temple regulations and by the police. But Mr Norseng believes most local people cherish the old Buddha images and will help to protect them.

The department has proposed that the details of registered Buddha images be made public on the internet, to help people recognise items that rightfully belong to temples.

Department officials have also requested customs and border authorities to check people’s luggage for Buddha images, and seize any that don’t have the necessary documentation to certify their export is legal.

Between 2005 and 2012, the department retrieved 75 Buddha images from border police and five from Luang Prabang airport authorities.

According to the department’s registration statistics for 2001-2006, there were 1,074 registered Buddha images in Luang Prabang. The latest survey for 2007-2012 conducted in 35 temples by Minobu University found 1,300 registered Buddha images.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Ounkham Pimmata
(Latest Update March 15, 2012)



0 #1 fefgw 2012-03-23 17:16
Can find back?

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