in 1955, a plaster buddha statue more than 600 years old was dropped during an attempt to move it to a new location. Some plaster came off, revealing a solid gold statue underneath.
Dropping a statue when trying to move it is usually disastrous. In 1954, however, the complete opposite happened.
When trying to move a seemingly mundane (but heavy) statue of Buddha, it was dropped, peeling off some of the plastic to reveal a statue of solid gold!
It instantly became the largest solid gold statue in the world at almost 10 feet tall and 5.5 tons. The statue is estimated at $250 million.
The statue is called Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon, or more commonly, Golden Buddha. Based on the style of the statue, it’s thought to have been made in the 13th or 14th century.
It’s believed that it was covered in plaster before the fall of the destruction of Ayutthaya kingdom by Burmese invaders in 1767 in order to prevent it from being stolen.
The ploy worked, and the statue remained among ruins until the 19th century.
At that point the Thai King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) ordered that various old Buddha images should be brought to Bangkok from the ruined temples around the country.
They moved the unusually heavy “plaster” statue to the main temple building of Wat Chotanaram in Bangkok, but that fell into despair and the statue, still in plaster, was then moved to the nearby Wat Traimit, a pagoda of minor relevance.
For 20 years it was kept under a tin roof until a building was made for it. When they tried to move it, they discovered its true identity.
The statue was actually nine parts that fit together, and a key was also found in the plaster that unlocked the parts for easy transportation. I’m sure the people who had to move it previously were rolling in their graves after that was discovered.