The Mystery of the Missing Golden Buddha

Who would steal a beloved decoration with only sentimental value?

By Viviana Gonzalez

If you’ve had ceramics class before, you probably know what the golden buddha is: A heavy clay statue, painted gold, sitting in an outdoor area called “the cage.” But in September, the Buddha was mysteriously stolen.

The theft, which might have otherwise gone unnoticed, was quite upsetting for the ceramics teacher, Ms. Salonga.

“It just breaks my heart knowing that somebody, or a group of people, came in and just took it,” she said, regarding the stolen Buddha, which was made years earlier by ceramics students and had become something of a visual icon between the 10 and 20 buildings. “I’m having such a hard time with it.”

Although she’s curious about who stole it and why, she decided not to pursue an investigation, preferring to  focus on her teaching.

“I don’t know what they got from [stealing] it, but I know what I learned from it is that y’all are teenagers. I’m just gonna have to handle it that way and show my students that we’re all gonna move past it. We’re just gonna create a new one, because life goes on.”

Although she wants to move on from the theft, she thinks it’s important to have students work displayed in her class. She plans to make a replacement for the Buddha next year, and has opened it up for students to help.

The sculpture is a depiction of the “Laughing Buddha,” a figure popular in Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhism and folklore, identified with contentment.

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