Getting a Buddha out of Thailand

May 11th, 2004, 04:57 AM
  #1  
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Getting a Buddha out of Thailand

I need your help.My wife bought a Buddha in Thailand and with my proding left it in the country for shipping by our guide.He was to send it by FEDEX. Now, I have a problem.He says we needs special papers from a temple in Thailand and California.Can somebody help us out of this bind?Can they either send it for us or tell us how to get it out. Thank you for helping this distressed traveler.
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May 11th, 2004, 05:18 AM
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The store where you bought it should provide the export papers. I have never heard of requiring a temple in Thailand and in California to provide papers.
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May 11th, 2004, 06:38 AM
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That is correct, the export of all Buddha Images from Thailand is illegal, except in the case of a Buddhist taking one for religious purposes. Needless to say the shops without doubt are fully aware of this!!
You would need a letter from a Temple I 'guess' saying you are Buddhist and need this for religious purposes.
Sadly the law is there and it is a fairly well known one, and I would 'guess' that any shop selling to foreigners know this.
I hate to say it but I think you may have just lost your bucks!

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May 11th, 2004, 06:41 AM
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Just to add, your 'guide' or a small shop/market place might not know about this law, a good shop that is there to sell such goods to tourists certainly whould/should know about the law.
What type of place did you buy it from, how big was it?
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May 11th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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James, can't the guide take the Buddha to the Royal Art Museum and have a specialist certify that it is not a "religious or cultural artifact?" One of the reasons the law is in place is to ensure that Thai cultural treasures do not leave the country.

Citiboy, it is very hard to take a Buddha out of Thailand. I bought a Buddha in Cambodia and had to have multiple documents, not to mention having my Buddha inspected by an officer at BKK, just for flying in transit between Bangkok and New York.
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May 11th, 2004, 02:47 PM
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I think it will come down to how much it cost. I doubt the guide would be able to do that, as far as I understand you can only take it out 'if' you are a Buddhist and require it for your religious devotions.
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May 11th, 2004, 06:08 PM
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James, my understanding of the law is more like Thin's. That is, the issue is taking out an old Buddha. People buy and export small new Buddhas all the time.

I purchased two small antique Buddhas many years ago in Thailand. The store where I purchased them did the paperwork and they were shipped to me without a problem.
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May 11th, 2004, 06:22 PM
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This probably doesn?t help in the least, but the following is from the Eyewitness Travel Guide to Thailand, ?Export permits are required for antiques and all Buddha images from the Fine Arts Department via the National Museum and take at least a week to obtain (see p451). Not surprisingly, given that so much of their cultural heritage has left the country, Thai customs officers are vigilant in enforcing this regulation.? The page 451 referred to goes on to state, ?Antiques and Buddha images are not allowed out of Thailand without authorization. If you wish to export such items, you must first contact the Fine Arts Department of the National Museum in Bangkok. Authorization involves some minor red tape: a couple of forms accompanied by two frontal photographs of the object being purchased. Some of the more upscale antique shops can organize this for you. Contemporary "works of art." such as paintings bought in markets, can be taken out of the country without permission.?
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May 11th, 2004, 06:51 PM
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Buddha Images are not allowed to be taken out of Thailand without the necessary documentation. Fedex will stick rigid to the rules without question. The problem you have here is going back to a 'guide' and asking them to do all this for you. An Buddha Images hold a deep meaning for Thais that is considored by them sacred and without all the correct paperwork no-one (Customs) will put that vital 'stamp' on the paperwork.
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May 13th, 2004, 01:22 PM
  #10  
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I really appreciate all of your responses. As usual, you regulars always have given me good advice. I have an idea.I have a friend here in Miami who is a Thai Buddhist.Would there be a problem for my guide to send Prasit his Buddha for his restaurant. As we are Jewish and Catholic, it would be hard to argue that we want the Buddha for religious reaseons. It is 14 inches high. We bought it in a small store down the Block from the Anatara hotel in the North. We are not talking about a sophisticated store.Thanx for your imput.
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May 14th, 2004, 02:25 PM
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Airlawgirl
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Okay, JamesA- my understanding about Buddha images is somewhat different- I bought two bronze Buddha HEADS at the night market in Chaing Mai, wrapped them up, put them in my suitcase- no problem at all- no one looked or cared. My understanding is that if I tried to take an antique Buddha image out, or a full Buddha image, maybe, that would be illegal. But Buddha heads, of the type you find in any market/shop in Thailand-that was not illegal. At any rate, like I said, I brought two home with me last year, no problem.
 
May 14th, 2004, 10:15 PM
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Airlawgirl, I don't answer comments on this forum in order to get into an argument!!
A quick search comes up with this same thing over and over again on various sitesbr />

"The export of antiques, objects of art, religious articles and Buddha images are prohibited. To send or take any of the above objects out of the country, prior permission must be obtained from The Fine Arts Department, at Na Phra That Road, Bangkok.

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May 14th, 2004, 10:19 PM
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If you actually refer back to Cityboy's message his guide appears to have tried to send it Fedex and has discovered that papers 'are' required.
I think that probably clarifies the situation better than anything any of us have said.
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May 15th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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Citiboy50,

Here was the loophole that we used, we had bought a Buddha (similar height) that was Burmese, not Thai. No one paid any mind to us and now the statue sits proudly on our mantle. Perhaps you can convince all export parties involved that the origin of your statue is of another country.
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May 15th, 2004, 06:24 AM
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As I stated previously, I brought two Buddha heads out of Thailand last year without any problem, and no one looked at my luggage. At least two other persons I know also bought and carried ot of the country, Buddha heads, and at least one person had a full Buddha statute. I think the best way to do that is just to wrap it up and carry it in your luggage- (provided it is not an antique).

and SteveA- I think you're too sensitive-I have no idea what you mean about "starting an argument" I'm merely relating the experiences of myself and many others who brought Buddhas out of Thailand.
 
May 15th, 2004, 06:33 AM
  #16  
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And further to this post- why would vendors all over Thailand in both night and day markets that obviously cater to tourists have stalls devoted to nothing but various Buddha heads and figures if there was some problem about taking them out of the country? None of the guides said anything at all to us about these purchases-but they did say that if we wanted to purchase a buddha from a shop that sold religious Buddha figures then we would have to get some sort of certificate. I think the way this law is interpreted and enforced is inconsistent at the least.
 
May 15th, 2004, 07:18 AM
  #17  
LJH
 
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Earlier this year we purchased a full Buddha statue in Cambodia, and had the necessary documents to show that it was not an antique. We were flying home via Bangkok, so were concerned about the Thai authorities giving us a hard time - it was in our carry-on bag, and they didn't even question us about it.
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May 15th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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Airlawgirl
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ExactlyLJH- if it isn't an antique, you can carry it back in your luggage, no problem- since you put it in your carry-on, if there had been a problem, the screeners would have taken it, or notified customs, as the full image would have shown up on the x-ray. Unfortunately for Citiboy, he should have just wrapped it up, and put it in his checked luggage, and he would have avoided this problem- and I see no way for him to get it out, unless he goes back to get it himself.
 
May 17th, 2004, 12:50 AM
  #19  
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Just so you understand tht we are not as dumb as we sound, we checked four Buddha in our luggage which sit in our home.I agree,the best way is to take them without shipping.I think the solution is to have my friends family pick it up from the guide in Chiang Mai and carry it to here on the familys next trip. Thank you for the advice about the museum. It is rather difficult and possibly costly for a guide from Chiang Mai to go that route.We will also be returning to Thailand before summer of 2005.We like a lot of you fell in love with the country and people.
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May 17th, 2004, 04:20 AM
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We were driven down a street in Bangkok that had many shops selling Buddhas and other religious objects. They had big signs in English saying that Buddhas and other religious objects cannot be taken out of the country. I think market vendors and others sell the objects and let the cutomers do as they wish. But the official rule is as stated by JamesA. When in Rome.....
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