Towering Buddha Now Off Limits

Statue honoring sister city Shanghai hit by graffitti

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jun 16, 2010  |  Updated 3:14 PM PDT
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Towering Buddha Sets Up Shop in the City

Marine Perez

Look, but don't touch, is what the new fence and screen around the bronze buddha in Civic Center Plaza is trying to tell you.

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The bronze, three-headed buddha statue by artist Zhang Huan in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza has already been hit by vandals.  The tagging has become enough of a problem the city has surrounded it by a cyclone fence and tarp.

Covering the lower half is not the kind of spirit that was intended when the statue was put in place.

The statue was put there to honor San Francisco's sister-city relationship with Shanghai and coincides with a show of art from the latter city at the Asian Art Museum nearby. 

One of taggers was caught on film.

In a compilation of scenes from around San Francisco, a man filmed by Vimeo user Terry B affixes a "BAYGAME" sticker to one of the buddha's arms:


Another person left the message "Jesus is the one," in case the statue got anyone thinking about the millennia of cultural tradition influenced by buddhist teachings that predate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Though Buddhists probably won't take the defacement too hard -- after all, in the famous koan from Chan Buddhist Linji, "If you meet the Buddha, kill him."

Jackson West guesses there's no honor among taggers.

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