Vietnam aims to shape world's biggest jade Buddha

One of the showy entrepreneurs making it large in flourishing Vietnam revealed a huge precious stone that plans to transform into the world's largest jade Buddha.

Dao Trong Cuong, the proprietor of a Vietnamese gem mine, purchased the 35-ton stone in Myanmar last year for $2 million and brought it to Vietnam in October. In the time a team of 50 artists and sculptors completes chipping away at it, the finished Buddha is expected to weigh nearly 20 tons.

"We hope to get it keen on the Guinness Book of World Records," Cuong told a crowd of almost 2,000 people during a ritual unveiling the stone, which is 10 feet (3 meters) tall, 6.5 feet (2 meters) wide, and 6.5 feet (2 meters) deep.

Cuong adds up some of Vietnam's most powerful political members among his friends, including President Nguyen Minh Triet, who spoke at Monday's ceremony after regarding 250 monks in saffron robes chanted and rang bells.

"This single artistic work will be passed on to many generations," said Triet.

Triet pulled backside a blind covering the massive piece of jade, which has been temporarily decorated with a painting of a tranquil Buddha sitting in the lotus position.

Cuong said it will take nearly two years to complete the statue.

A look for of the Guinness Book Web site showed no entries for the world's largest jade Buddha. But according to Vietnamese media reports, the world's biggest obtainable jade Buddha weighs 4 tons and stands 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall.

Buddhism is the largest religious belief in Vietnam, a nation of 86 million where the government severely controls religious organizations. While some Buddhist faction have been involved in high-profile clashes with the government, the monks at Monday's ceremony fit in to the officially sanctioned Buddhist Church of Vietnam.

Cuong hits it rich in Vietnam's late 1980s gemstone rush. In the middle of his business schemes is a studio that makes artworks out of compressed gemstones, such as rubies and emeralds. He has made descriptions of Vietnam's revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh, former President George W. Bush and Bill Gates.

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