Jun 4, 2015 | By Simon

Sadly, a recent survey in Japan that was organized by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs revealed that from 2007 to 2009, there were at least 105 related thefts of historical sculptures. The incidents mostly occurred in sparsely-populated areas where patrol was likely to be near non-existent. Because of this, people have taken to 3D printing to create replicas of the iconic Buddha sculpture to worship in place of the more valuable historical relics.

According to a Japanese news source, a 3D printed Buddha sculpture was recently added to the Seitaiji Temple, which is a 15 minute drive from Gotsu City in the western part of Shimane Prefecture. The sculpture is located at the end of a large hall in the temple and is a replica of a 90-centimeter-tall Amitabha statue that was produced during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333) and is designated as the deity Shimane cultural property.

It's been over 30 years since the last abbot retired and as a result, the Qingtai Temple has nobody to take care of it. While in the past Jiangjin City had up to four million residents who called it home, many have left and those who were once able to keep an eye on the temple are no longer able to.

Last year, the abbot handed the original sculpture to the Shimane Museum for safekeeping upon learning that 3D printing could create a low-cost and highly-accurate replica to put in its place. Soon after, a 3D printed replica was created by a third-party 3D printing service and delivered to the temple.

"There is no way to permanently guard the Buddha statue all of the time," said Chisen Inoshita, 70, abbot of Seitaiji temple. Meanwhile he also works and manages another temple. "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."

According to a Japanese news source, within the past twenty years there have been over 160 statues from various temples that have been donated or stored for safekeeping and had 3D printed replicas created in their place due to fears of theft or fire.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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