At 10 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and weighing 5.5 tons, Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon (aka the Golden Buddha) is the largest solid gold statue ever created.
But, even though it’s one of mankind’s greatest marvels, the Golden Buddha was forgotten and ignored by its home country of Thailand for nearly 200 years.
There are no records indicating who crafted the Golden Buddha and where. However, historians believe it must have been created during the reign of the Sukhothai Dynasty between the 13th and 14th centuries. The sculpture style is reminiscent of that period.
It is believed that the Golden Buddha may have been very important for Thailand, then and still a primarily Buddhist country.
But around 1760, it faded into obscurity.
At the time, war was brewing in Thailand. The Golden Buddha was solid gold and people feared someone was going to steal it.
So the entire statue was covered in plaster, painted over, and moved into an inauspicious temple. Then came the Burmese–Siamese War from 1765-67.
The Burmese invaded the Ayutthaya kingdom. They ransacked the city. They totally ignored the now mediocre-looking statue. Years later, the Thai people reclaimed the city but forgot about the statue.
It was later moved out of the area. By this time, no one was aware that there is gold in the now concrete-looking Buddah.
So why didn’t people just destroy it? Statues of Buddha were not permitted to be destroyed.
No temple wanted the buddha. It took years before the Golden Buddha settled at the Wat Phraya Krai temple. It was, however, put at the back under a shack, with tin roof and thin wooden walls.
When improvements were being done in the temple, they had to move the Buddah. During the move, one of the hoisting ropes snapped and the Buddha crashed to the ground, cracking some of the plaster… revealing a glint of gold.
The temple monks were shocked… and then elated.
The Golden Buddha is now in Wat Traimit Temple.
The Golden Buddha weighs 5.5 tons. Yes, that’s 5.5 tons of gold. That’s $308M worth of gold but priceless for the Thais and their faith.