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Buddha's finger bone placed on display

AP, November 12, 2005

Seoul, South Korea -- 2,500-year-old fragment of bone believed to be one of Buddha’s fingers went on public display in Seoul Friday after arriving from China, officials said.

The bone, which arrived around 5 a.m., was sent to an indoor stadium in southern Seoul for a temporary exhibit after a ceremony at Jogye Temple, said Jin Yeo-shim, a temple official. The temple is the headquarters of Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect. “I think this event will greatly help solidify friendship and religious faith between Korean and Chinese Buddhism,” said the Venerable Jigwan, head of the order, during the ceremony, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. About 1,000 people attended the ceremony, officials said.

The 3 1/2-week exhibition will be the first showing of the relic in South Korea. It has previously been displayed in Thailand in 1994, Taiwan in 2002, and Hong Kong in 2004. Earlier, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that a 108-member delegation from China’s official Buddhist association carried the bone from the Famen Temple in the city of Xi’an following a religious ceremony attended by 1,000 people.

It also said the bone was being carried in a multilayered box made of jade, crystal, sandalwood, silver and iron. “This is an important event in the 1,600-year history of friendly relations between the two countries,” the head of the Chinese delegation, monk Sheng Hui, was quoted as saying.

The bone was discovered in a hidden chamber at the Famen Temple in 1987 and was believed to have lain there undisturbed for 1,000 years, Xinhua said. It was believed to have been enshrined by China’s imperial family during the Tang dynasty, which ruled from 618 to 907.

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