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Published on June 4th, 2015 | by ananya kondiparthy

Japanese temple authorities get a 3D printed Buddha sculpture at a thousand year old temple

It seems Japanese monasteries have been under threat, as there has been repeated robbery of important deities and ancient relics for nearly a decade. Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs conducted a survey that revealed that between 2007 and 2009 more than 100 such cases where historical items were stolen in areas where police patrol is almost null.

In order to protect the ancient priceless sculptures and also sanctity of the temples (in the bigger picture), there has been news that people have turned to 3D printing technology for help.


One such interesting news where temple authorities took aid of 3D printing technology to replace the original sculpture is that of the Seitaiji temple, Japan. The Seitaiji temple is the abode of a thousand year old Buddha sculpture, which has been the idol of worship since the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333). With the rise of theft in the country, the temple authorities needed to take an immediate step to safeguard the Buddha sculpture. When they heard of the applications of the 3D printing technology and endless possibilities it has been providing in the rest of the world, they soon consulted a third party 3D printing service provider and got themselves the 90 centimeter long 3D printed Buddha Amitabha.

“There is no way to permanently guard the Buddha statue all of the time,” said Chisen Inoshita, a senior abbot at Seitaiji temple. He added, “Even though this 3D print is just a replica of the original statue, as long as it resides within our temple people can use it as a shrine nonetheless.”

The original sculpture was handed over to the authorities at Shimane Museum to restore and safeguard the ancient sculpture.

It is not the first time when temple authorities at Japan have considered to use 3D printing technology for the above reasons. In the last two decades there were more than 150 such cases along with 3D printing ancient sculptures and relics, they have also considered donating these original models to the museums.

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