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Mystery of Iron Man Buddhist Statue

Known as the "Iron Man", the 22 pound (10 kilogram) figure depicts the Buddhist deity Vaiśravaṇa. This mysterious statue was carved around 1000 AD from a rare ataxite-class nickel-rich iron meteorite that fell to Earth about 15,000 years ago, although no evidence for this claim has been given. Seated, he wears a large swastika on his midsection—a good-luck symbol in Buddhism.

In 1938, it was discovered in Tibet  by German scientist Ernst Schafer. His expedition was supported by the Nazis, in particular by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS. Himmler was said to believe the Aryan race originated in Tibet and was keen to recover objects from the area. Brought back to Germany, the statue became part of a private collection and disappeared from view until 2007. A new owner then sought scientific advice on the origins. He turned to Dr Elmar Buchner from the University of Stuttgart.


The Mysterious Iron Man Buddha with Swastika Symbol on its Chest

(Image Source: BBC.co.uk)

In 2009, the team had the opportunity to take larger samples from the inside of the statue, which is less prone to contamination by weathering or human handling than the outside where the initial samples were taken. 

According to Buchner statement, it is rich in nickel, and cobalt. Less than 0.1 % of all meteorites and less than 1 % of iron meteorites are ataxites. It is the rarest type of meteorite on earth. The largest-ever known meteorite, the Hoba meteorite of Namibia, is an ataxite meteorite that may weigh more than 60 tons. 

However, the researchers believe it was carved from a piece of the Chinga meteorite. The Chinga meteorite field holds at least 250 meteorite fragments, most relatively small, though two topping 22 pounds (10 kg) have been found there. Scientists estimate the Chinga meteorite fell 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.The debris from the crash was only discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, but the individual fragment from which the statue was carved was collected many centuries before.

Some suspect this is a well elaborated forgery, specially when comparing features on cloth and the supposed deity it represents. If the statue is somehow genuine, the nearest possible resemblance to a national dress would be Scythian. Not all details fit such resemblance, however, such as the remarkable double sleeved coat that fails to be associated with examples of Scythian clothing and the distinctive cut cuff of the pant legs. It shall be noted that certain groups of Scythians (Indo-Scythians/Sakas 200BCE-400CE) were influenced by Buddhism and their kingdoms bordered modern Tibet on the west. While the last remains of a Scythian state vanished in the fifth century, pockets, in the form of tribes, may have survived in the Himalayas up to the tenth century.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Man_(Buddhist_statue)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/9/120927-nazi-buddhist-meteorite-science-iron-man-meteoritics-statue/

https://www.archaeology.org/issues/60-1301/trenches/315-siberia-mongolia-meteorite-statue-swastika

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/buddhist-iron-man-statue-nazi-space_n_1917918

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-19735959

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