The inside cleaning
When the Buddha statue arrived in Bremen, it was beautifully gilded on the outside, but inside it was still completely untreated, raw, rough, dirty, unsightly. When unpacking it from the big box, Geshe Pema Samten was also present. He is the spiritual director of the Tibetan Center Hamburg, whose patron is the Dalai Lama. Geshe Pema Samten had been asked by the people of Bremen if he would lead the consecration ceremony. To his great joy he accepted and from now on he accompanied the whole event, starting with the unpacking. When he noticed that the statue was still untreated inside, he gave the Bremeners the order to change this in any case before the filling. After all, the valuable items with which the Buddha is to be filled cannot be stuffed into an unclean statue. That must be so clean, as if you want to eat from it, was his statement.
But how does it work: to clean a Buddha statue from the inside like this? Who knows about this? The good contacts of the botanika to the Buddhists of Bremen existed already since the consecration of the stupa in front of the botanika. And when asked for an expert in cleaning and filling Buddha statues, only one would come into question: Stefanie Karrasch.
In the following photos we show the process of a weekend in May 2017, when a group of very dedicated Buddhists and non-Buddhists, led by Stefanie Karrasch, prepared the Peace Buddha for filling and consecration.
As large and massive the statue appears, as delicate is the material and complex the structure of many individual parts. The Buddha consists of a few millimeters thin layer of sheet metal, which was covered with great attention to detail with gold leaf and then painted.
Since the filling consists of many different dry materials, the statue had to be provided with an airtight, high-quality lacquer coating from the inside. In the process, centuries-old Buddhist tradition and the latest material technology were harmoniously combined.
The first step was to close the largest holes at the seams of the assembled parts with a modeling compound. In the process, the hard-working helpers searched every centimeter of the statue from the inside!
Then came the finishing touches. The first part of the coating consisted of a white primer, which securely and tightly sealed even the smallest holes in the material. This prevents atmospheric moisture from penetrating the statue and damaging the filling.
Although the hairstyle on the Buddha already sat perfectly, the hairdryer came into play!
In order to thoroughly process all surfaces in the statue, it required a large amount of curved brushes as well as many helpers with small hands and infinite patience!
In the second layer, an impact-resistant interior varnish was applied. Buddhist texts describe that in preparation for filling, the statue should be "as beautiful and golden on the inside as it is on the outside". Inner qualities and outer qualities are represented as perfect.
The gold-colored lacquer was made to shine with gold pigment and gold dust. But that's not all. In addition, a Buddhist statue is purified with saffron, camphor and rose water before being filled. Like all aspects in a traditional filling ceremony, these ingredients have a deep meaning.
The saffron is used in Buddhism for spiritual purification. It removes all harmful deeds, words and thoughts that have been inflicted on other sentient beings during production.
Camphor is the resin of the camphor tree, which is used in both Western and Eastern medicine to treat colds. As for people, camphor removes all negative health influences.
The rose water refers to an ancient description of the special external qualities of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. Thus, it is reported that after his enlightenment, a floral fragrance is said to have surrounded him at all times. And this is said to have been rose fragrance.
The result after two weekends of meticulous work was really something to behold. The statue shone just as brilliantly on the inside as it did on the outside!
Just like the helpers! There the Buddha colored in the literal sense already all surrounding!
Now everything was ready for the big day!