Making of Setrap

17 April 2010 - 12:47am Comments Off

The very first Setrap statue that was made by KD was carved out of wood. I had an audience with Rinpoche just before I left for the trip. Rinpoche taught me the iconography and explained the meaning to me. I had it written down, and I brought along lots of pictures that were given to me by Rinpoche so I could show them to the craftsman as a reference.

Rinpoche was very kind because he arranged for 2 beautiful “Kuan Gong” statues as a sample for me to show the craftsman. Kuan Gong is an ancient Chinese Warrior, who became a divine protector in the god realm after he passed away. When he was alive, he brought justice and empowerment to the weak and innocent. Kuan Kong is very famous in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and especially among the Chinese business community.

Kuan Gong rides on a horse, and he is a wrathful manifestation. He holds a long spear and has 5 war flags behind him. Thus, Kuan Kong looks very similar to Setrap. However, Setrap, is a Buddha and slightly different from Kuan Gong.

Setrap who is a manifestation of Amitabha Buddha, is far more beneficial than Kuan Gong. Setrap, being an enlightened protector acts out of compassion to clear our obstacles and he can see into our past, present and future simultaneously in order to help us fulfill our wishes. Whatever we pray and request, we should have no worries because we  can rely a hundred percent upon him, and is an object for refuge, just like Buddha Shakyamuni.

Setrap is red in colour, has one face, two arms and three round red eyes. He rides upon a russet-colored horse, left hand is in a threatening mudra to protect us from harm, and he holds a noose in his right to bind sentient beings who breaks their samaya. His right hand holds a sandalwood cudgel that clears our obstacles and negative karma. Setrap has 3 round bulging eyes that see into our past, present and future, and he assists us towards Enlightenment. So for sure, whatever assistance he gives is definitely for our benefit. Setrap wears a leather helmet and armour, has a sword, bow and arrows on his side. On top of his head is the 5-colored flags. (for more detail description, please refer to  Shartse’s Jewel Setrap’s Medium Length Puja, Compiled by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche,  published by Kechara Media & Publications)

I flew to Indonesia many times in order to work with this craftsman. He lives in a small little village accessible by a small narrow road. His workshop is made of wood and bricks, and is located just beside a main highway. He and his wife ride the same motorcycle to work every single day. The wife wakes early in the morning to cook breakfast and lunch. They packed lunch and have it at the workshop together with the only worker they have.

Every time I see him, I will explain again Setrap’s iconography, expression, and proportion. This craftsman is very good but he had never done a Tibetan Buddhist deity. So it was a big challenge for both of us. However I had confidence in him. This craftsman is a sincere Hindu; he is soft-spoken and has a simple demeanour. I saw that he is very religious in attending the temple’s prayers and rituals. He will leave me alone in his garage with his workers for few hours while attending prayers at his temple. Then, he will continue to work late into night from home with just a dim light. I would sit by him and watch Setrap emerge from just bare wood.

This process took 18 months, and I made a total of 8 trips to Indonesia, working together with this craftsman, I completed several Setrap statues, a Black Manjushri statue, a few Buddha Shakyamuni statues and a few other hand-crafted Buddhist deities.

Black Manjushri

On every trip, I would stay for one night or a maximum of two nights at a budget inn nearby his workshop. The place was so remote that I didn’t have the opportunity to walk around and check out the popular areas. However, I did enjoy the beautiful Indonesian scenery along the way while I was travelling from the airport to the village. In this part of Indonesia, there were no tall buildings, no traffic jams, no pollution. It was just vast tracks of green paddy fields all over the place.

I hope to meet him again, to work on a new project.

The first 3-feet wooden Setrap Statue was invited by Roland Yap. He wanted to invite Setrap back to Singapore and share it with his family, and most importantly with his fellow KH Study Group in Singapore.

The second 3-feet Setrap Statue was invited by Datin Jenifer. Datin just adores Setrap

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