7. The Golden Buddha of Thailand was coated in plaster to protect it from being stolen during the fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, hiding in public view for 200 years before revealing itself again to the world
The Golden Buddha, known officially as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon, is a 5.5-ton statue located in the temple of Wat Traimit, Bangkok, Thailand. Measuring 3.91 meters tall, 3.1 meters in width, and capable of being disassembled into nine separate pieces, the huge representation of Siddhartha Gautama is believed to have been fashioned at some time in the 13th-14th centuries. Whilst it is possible the style of the Sukhothai Dynasty might have been reproduced at a later date, historical evidence places the latest possible creation of the Golden Buddha circa 1750. At least 40% of the body of the statue is pure gold, from the chin to forehead 80%, and the hair and topknot, weighing an immense 45 kilograms, is 99% in purity; consequently, the modern-day cash value of the total gold of the statue surpasses $200 million.
Believed to have been transported from Sukhothai to the Ayutthaya Kingdom in approximately 1403, at some point prior to the destruction of the Ayutthaya Kingdom by Burma in 1767, the statue was coated in a thick layer of stucco and pieces of colored glass. As a result, the Golden Buddha was protected by its camouflage, remaining discarded among the ruins for the next fifty years. In 1805, with the establishment of Bangkok as the new capital city of the Kingdom of Thailand and the construction of several new temples, King Rama I ordered old images of the Buddha be collected and distributed. During the reign of Rama III (r. 1824-1851), the statue, still carrying its secret, was fitted as the foremost icon in the temple of Wat Chotanaram in Bangkok, before being moved to Wat Traimit in 1935 and housed under a tin roof due to lack of space. Finally, in 1954, after a new building was constructed to specially house the giant statue, as the Buddha was being transported it was accidentally dropped and a chunk of plaster was chipped away to reveal the gold underneath; today, with the plaster fully removed, the gold statue, after 200 years in hiding, is safely enjoyed by the Thai people once more.