Commissioned by an Australian couple and finished in December 2008, the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace has embarked on a worldwide tour from 2010 to 2011 after which it will be brought to its permanent home at the Great Stupa in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, where the couple reside.
Mined in 2000 at the Polar Jade mine site in British Columbia, Canada, the original piece of jade that the statue was carved from was nicknamed "Polar Pride" and weighed thousands of pounds. The piece was broken into two smaller chunks, the larger of which went into producing the Jade Buddha. The smaller piece will be used to carve smaller figurines, pendants and other objects that will be sold to visitors of the giant statue.
It took sculptors and artists in Thailand five years to complete the Jade Buddha, which is a depiction of the Gautama Buddha. It was modeled after the Buddha statue at the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodh Gaya, India, which is universally recognized by all Buddhists. It stands 2.7 meters tall, sits on a solid alabaster throne, and is valued at more than $5 million Australian dollars.
In many pictures taken by tourists visiting the Buddha, bright lights appear in the background. It has been said that only those with a pure heart and pure intentions can take these photographs. Called the "Mandala Lights" because their appearance is similar to a Buddhist mandala, the lights seem to be made of many colors in wildly varying patterns.
"It will illuminate the world and bring inconceivable peace and happiness and help prevent the destruction that is happening so much in the world, including war," Lama Zopa Rinpoche said of the Jade Buddha.