How Space Buddha Ended Up in Nazi Hands

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party had a long standing interest in early civilization artifacts.

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party had a long standing interest in early civilization artifacts. Combined with a mish-mash of interests in the Occult, which has inspired many a conspiracy theory and Hollywood movie, Nazi’s collected/stole/found many valuable cultural artifacts from ancient Rome to Buddhist Mongolia.

The failed artist that he was, Hitler’s imagination and interest in the Neo-Pagan movement—popular in Germany during the early part of the 20th C., spawned his hopes of re-establishing a “master race.” Hitler was looking for “evidence” that Aryans pre-dated all others and therefore were justified in ruling the world. And so, Nazi’s went about the ancient world on archeological digs looking for evidence of their preeminence.

Contrary to its popular usage as a fascist symbol, the svastika is an ancient symbol of luck and prosperity used in India, China, Tibet and can also be traced to ancient Greece. It was even the symbol for Thor the Norse God of thunder, and was adopted by the German Neo-Paganists, before Hitler co-opted it as the symbol for the Nazi Party.

Before the 2nd World War, Tibet became friendly with Nazi Germany in an alliance against their long standing dispute over boarders and autonomy with China. While the Tibetans never entered the war, the Buddhist Theocracy welcomed several Nazi expeditions lead by zoologist Ernst Schäfer, the guy who Brad Pitt portrays in Seven Years in Tibet. Contrary to the sanitized version of the movie, Schäfer was a Nazi sympathizer who in order to advance his career joined the SS.

After his last expedition to Tibet in 1939, having spent time with the teenaged 14th Dali Lama, Ernst Schäfer brought back a curious Buddhist figure made from extremely dense ore. “Iron Man” or Space Buddha (as I’m now calling him) became a part of Nazi booty—a treasure trove of art and artifacts from around the ancient world.

It is believed that this iron Buddha was made almost 1,000 years ago and orgininated from a metor shower 1000’s of years before. In a recently published article in Metoritics & Planetary Science, a team of scientists have determined that a lump of space rock from a Meteor shower known as the Chinga meteorite and fell across Sibera and Mongolia some 10 – 20,000 years ago.

After WWII much of the collected and stolen art works were looted by allied soldiers, as with many works of art druing times of conflict, disappeared into the black market and into private collection.



(source Huffington Post)

Now that scientists have determined that Space Buddha is in fact an authentic fragment of age old star dust, art historians need to figure out its iconographic implications. Space Buddha is thought to be carved by Bon artisans. Bon was a pre-Buddhist Shamanistic religion practiced in Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria and Korea and was absorbed into Tibetan Buddhism sometime before the 9th C.

Looking at Space Buddha he seems to have elements atypical of Tibetan Buddhist figures, one part Gandharan—a period of Indian Buddhist art influenced by Alexander the Great’s foray into India. One part Tibetan warrior—evidenced by the armor he wears inscribed with the swastika, as well as something rather central Asian tribesman (Afghan or Turkic perhaps) about him.

Space Buddha seems a rather ethnically ambiguous fellow, its not a wonder why Nazi’s found him so appealing. He leaves much room for imagination to fill ideological archeological gaps in ideological theories.

Buddhism was allowed to exist during Nazi Germany, Buddhistisches Haus (House for Buddhists) in Frohnau, Berlin stayed open throughout the war. Although scholar Alexander Berzin claims there was no Buddhist teachings applied in Nazi ideology. Non-violence at the center of violence, the irony of it all is more than amusing.

While Nazis who were keen on establishing an ethnic link between Tibetans and the Aryan race never made that a biological connection (though not for lack of trying—measuring European and Tibetan cranial size), politics, art and religion made for the strangest of bedfellows.