In 2014, with initial funding for the museum project provided by the European Union, we began the first phase of the renovation of the new home of the Museum of Asian Art and Culture (MACO). The renovation gave us the opportunity to transform the larger of the two rooms of the museum into an installation inspired by traditional Tibetan monastic architecture, creating a representation of the interior of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
As a centerpiece of this installation we will exhibit a copy of the Jowo Sakyamuni statue, considered to be the most venerated image of Tibet. This will be installed under a wooden portal inspired by the portal located in the central shrine of the Jokhang temple.
The Jowo Sakyamuni, which represents the Buddha (Siddhartha) at the age of twelve, is believed to depict an “authentic portrait of the living Buddha” or “real icon”. Legend has it that the king of craftsmen, Visvakarman, carved this statue in the likeness of the Buddha. During the reign of the Indian king Dharmapala, this image of the Jowo was given as a gift to the Emperor of China. Later, in the year 641 AD, the Chinese princess Wen Cheng-Konjo, daughter of the Emperor, brought this sacred image as a dowry to the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo when she became his second wife.
In September 2015, a student of Rinpoche’s, the young Tibetan trulku Gyurmed Tshewang, when he learned of the Jokhang installation for the museum project, offered to commission a copy of the Jowo statue from one of the best Tibetan sculptors of Chengdu, as a gift dedicated to the long life of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. The final step to finishing the statue consists in the faithful reproduction of the ornaments that adorn the crown, and the breastplate of the Jowo of Jokhang, embedding jewels and then gilding with gold and entire statue, which stands 70 cm high.
The museum is currently carrying out a fundraising drive to provide the needed gold and jewels to embellish the statue. Rosa Namkhai and Rinpoche, as always with generosity that knows no limits, have already offered gold and jewels to help accomplish this essential, final phase, which is to be carried out in Rajasthan under the guidance of David Surricchio, a well known jeweler in our Community.
According to tradition, offering gold to embellish the Jowo statue is considered to be a highly meritorious act.
Anyone wishing to contribute, even a small donation, to the completion of the statue, which to our knowledge will be the only one of its kind in Europe, is invited to contact the Merigar Dzogchen Community – Project Museum: Jowo.