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August 02, 2012


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Patrick S. O'Donnell

Often public statues of the Buddha find him in the bhumisparśa mūdrā (‘touching the earth’ gesture, or ‘calling the earth to witness’ gesture), associated with Siddhartha’s awakening or enlightenment experience. Here, however, the gesture of Tian Tian Buddha here takes the form of the abhaya mudrā, symbolizing protection, fearlessness, and serenity (a similar gesture is found in the iconic depiction of Christ in Christianity) in general (and protection from all the fears of cyclic existence in particular). This strikes me as perfectly appropriate, given Hong Kong’s geopolitical proximity to and legal relation with (as a ‘special administrative region’) the People’s Republic of China. The left hand is in a dāna gesture, symbolizing generosity or giving and is associated with cultivating this practice as a virtue.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

please pardon the "here" redundancy in the second sentence.

Kim Krawiec

Thanks Patrick.


hahaha! what a nickname! i was also recognized as the best fortune teller in north carolina and hong kong! it was super fun visiting the bigg buddha with mitu, kim and their great mothers. the fortune teller had a lot of fun.

Kim Krawiec

The Fortune Teller! I had forgotten that one . . .

Steve M


Interesting. The symbolism may be intentional; Hong Kong's Tian Tan Buddha was completed in 1993, just a few years prior to the territory's reunification with the PRC. In fact, an altar at the base of the stairs leading up to the Buddha is emblazoned with the phrase one country, two systems (一国两制), which describes Hong Kong's political relationship with China.


Thanks for the interesting write-up! I attended the Asia-America Institute in 2008, as a student at Duke Law.

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