Art: The Headless Buddhas

Among the most valuable national resources of the kingdom of Thailand are its innumerable statues of Buddha; foreign collectors dote on them. A major source of Buddhas is pillage. Every Thai jungle is dotted with temples that are lined with stone Buddhas; robbers knock off the heads—which are the most highly prized parts of the statues—and smuggle them to Bangkok, where the government tolerantly permitted many of them to be exported. Only last month the Bangkok police launched a giant raid on the city's antique shops that showed how far things have gone: 3,500 stolen Buddha statues or heads were recovered.


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