(Los Angeles Times) In almost every room of Susan Cohen's Santa Monica house, there are Buddha statues: sitting, standing, reclining. Some are gray, others purple or pink. A 4-foot-tall copper-colored cast-resin Buddha head is propped up in the backyard pond, and a tiny ceramic figure gazes from the dashboard of her car.
Cohen isn't a Buddhist, and in 10 years of displaying symbols of the ancient religion, no one has asked if she is. She's just drawn to what the statues represent: serenity, wisdom, peace. "Who wouldn't want that in their home?" she asks. Very few, it seems. Buddhas are big. They're everywhere these days, more likely bought at the local mall or garden center than during an overseas vacation. The principal religious figure for an estimated 6% of the world's population now doubles as visual shorthand for soothing interior design to so many others -- an instant tranquilizer set on the console or hung above the mantel.
Scott Thomas of Thomas-Somero Design in Hollywood says that whenever he hears the word "Zen" from clients, he automatically draws a Buddha into the design sketch -- much to their approval. Demand has even spread to the art market. In March, Christie's sold a 26-inch-tall wooden Buddha sculpture dating to the 12th century for about $14.4 million, setting a world auction record for traditional Japanese art. More>>
Buddha statues have meaning from head to toe
SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA was a prince in India around 500 BC who set out to discover meaning in the [dukkha] he witnessed. Once he found enlightenment, he began to spread his philosophy. He became known as Buddha, a title, since given to others, that means "awakened one." Buddha statues have long conveyed the religion's teachings, according to Surya Das, a Buddhist lama trained in Tibet. "Encoded symbols in the statues were used in a preliterate, oral culture to pass on the messages"...