The Golden Buddha, officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon (Thai: พระพุทธมหาสุวรรณปฏิมากร), is the world's biggest solid gold statue. It is located in in the temple of Wat Traimit, Bangkok (district of Samphanthawong, in Chinatown), Thailand.
In the early 1930's, reconstruction works in the banks of the Chao Phraya river near Chinatown required the destruction of an old abandoned temple that housed a gold painted stucco statue of Buddha. Despite the fact that the statue was not so attractive its destruction was not an option, so it was decided to move it to Wat Traimit, a pagoda of minor relevance like other hundreds of Buddhist temples that exist in Bangkok, keeping the statue in Chinatown. The temple didn't have a building big enough to house the statue, so it was kept for 20 years under a simple tin roof.
In 1955 a new building was built and the monks decided to install the statue inside it. A crane was supposed to move the statue carefully, but a cable broke and the statue fell in the mud, an event that was seen as a bad omen by the workers, who ran away from the place, leaving the statue on the soil. It was the rainy season and, as for confirming the bad omen, a terrible storm came and it lasted the whole night, flooding the whole city.
At the dawn of the next day, the abbot of the temple came to evaluate the damage and started removing the mud. He observed that the wet plaster was cracked and under it the statue was made of solid gold.
It is thought that the statue likely came from Ayutthaya and it was disguised under plaster to avoid the greed of the Burmese who were besieging the city. After being moved to Bangkok, its true composition was forgotten for almost 200 years.
The statue is 3 metres (9.8 ft) tall and weights 5.5 tonnes (5.4 LT; 6.1 ST). It is made in the Sukhothai Dynasty style, but it could have been made after that time.
It is thought to have been made during the Sukhothai period, in the 13th century and it was in an Ayutthaya temple until mid 19th century. It's provenance from Ayutthaya excludes the possibility of having been made after about 1750.
The Buddha is represented in the traditional pose of
Bhumisparshamudra (touch the earth with the right hand to
witness Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment at Bodh Gaya). The
original statues of Sukhothai sit on a common pedestal. The flame
that crowns the protuberance skull (ushnisha) is an
innovation of Sukhothai that symbolises the splendour of spiritual
energy. The line of the hairdressing shapes a "V" in the root of
the hairs, underlined by the elegant curve of the eyebrows that
join above the aquiline nose shaped like a parrot's beak, all
according to the prescribed rules. The three wrinkles in the neck
and the much elongated ear lobes, sign of his former status of
prince, also make part of the code, as do the wide shoulders and
the chest inflated with inspiration.