Of Statues, Sausages and Stardust…

 

What could statues, sausages and stardust have in common?

Stardust is equated with wishful thinking (which is what leads to creation of great artworks) and sausages are being mooted for immortalization with a thirty meter statue in the offing in North of England. I read that in an essay and then from a newspaper report that had prime minister Boris Johnson wearing a garland of sausages and rooting for a huge statue of Heck’s sausages in Northern England! He loves those sausages so much that he thought they were German!

The tallest statue in Germany stands at 53.44 meters and dates back to the late nineteenth century. Some Asian statues beat the German one with their youthful good looks and height! The Lushan buddha in the Henan Province of Buddha stands at 153 meters and was completed in 2008. The Guanyin statue in the middle of the Lake in Hainan province was completed in 2005.

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Yan Di
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Shi Huang Di

The “ Mount Rushmore of China” stands 105m tall in the yellow river scenic area and bears testament to Chinese emperors Shi Huang di ( the First Emperor, the man who took the Terracotta warriors to his grave in Xian) and Yan di ( the flame emperor, who came before Huang di and probably acquired the name from slash and burn tactics to clear farming lands). I have a feeling that the spirit of Yan di likes to descend on Brazil and Sumatra to inspire ‘slash and burn’ for clearing lands! Though Brazil has one too… a tall statue. Standing at a height of 110 meters, along with the monument, the statue of Christ the Redeemer was completed in 1959.

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Leshan Buddha, Chengdu

However, one must add in all fairness, China has some tall ancient statues too … like the statue of Leshan Buddha carved into the Hills that stands at 71 meters made between the 713 and 803 CE. Said to be hewn by a sage to tame the wild waters created at the confluence of the rivers Min and Dadu that flow at its feet, the Buddha makes one feel really Lilliputian as one measures their height against its thumb. Here the statue was made by a monk to help mankind. The hewing evidently calmed the waters enough to give traders and wayfarers a safe crossing at the waterway… used much like the highway where the sausage will grow to bring glory to Mr Johnson.

Myanmar made its mark too when it came to lying and standing Buddhas! The Laykyun Setkyar is the second tallest Buddha statue in the world at 130 meters. At its foot lies the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world. The Laykyun Setkyar was completed in 2008, the reclining Buddha in 1991… of course the Rohingyas, who were denied citizenship in the 1980s continue to await the compassion of the giant Buddhas, or is it that they are denied that as they continue different?

Though prime minister Modi of India is normally quiet on all issues relating to any controversy, he could not let India down in the matter of statues. He decided to create a stir by beating China and the rest of the world if in nothing else in holding the record for the largest statue — that of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel*. The statue of Vallabh Bhai Patel stands at 181 metres tall as a symbol of unity and harmony— the tallest statue in the current world. Patel’s contribution was great too! He persuaded all the little princedoms that refused to join Nehrudom to become a part of India under Nehru…

Talking of unity, another statue that comes to mind is the Statue of Liberty in New York which had a plaque inviting all immigrants to shelter under the umbrella of America from 1903. The lines now will no longer open up America to all and sundry.

The original lines of the poem (The New Colossus, 1883) by Emma Lazarus are:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

A BBC report said the lines would be translated to:

“Give me your tired and your poor – who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

The lines are in keeping with the current immigration policy (public charge rule that will take effect on October 15, 2019), said Mr Cuccnelli, the acting head of the American citizenship and immigration services. “No one has a right to become an American who isn’t born here as an American,” he added clarifying the government stand.

All that is fine as every country has a right to create laws, except one wonders, a few centuries before the Europeans started out on their voyages in quest of Gold, Glory and God, who inhabited America?

Long before the Statue of Liberty, in the days before the Europeans set sail to hunt for Americas or the Indies, exquisite sculptures were hewn into a basalt cliff in the ancient temples of Ellora in India. Made between 600 and 1000 CE, the caves house deities from three religions — Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The largest monolith carving of the Kailash temple is a wonder to behold as is the architecture of the Buddhist caves. How these caves were carved in those ancient times remains a mystery and one can only conjecture at the skill level of the workers. There are griffin-like and sphinx-like creatures in one of the panels. One wonders if a worker from Egypt or the middle East had wandered in… because those were long before the days of visas, of real/conjectured walls and all immigration policies which returned immigrants to their home countries.

In conclusion, I would like to add, that the best way to make statues or punish those who  disagree or have a different opinion is to travel back in time to get Medusa Gorgon. She can freeze people or giant sausages with a glance… and if you want a colossus… I am sure scientists will soon be able to stabilize the contraption from the popular Hollywood movie, Honey I Blew Up the Kid, and blow up the normal sized statue made by Medusa!

 

 

*I wonder why Mahatma Gandhi was not chosen for this honour… He fasted against the Partition, was killed by a Hindu fanatic and his sesquicentennial birth anniversary has been commemorated this year!

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