Ksitigarbha

Ksitigarbha is a bodhisattva of Mahayana Buddhism. In China he is Dayuan Dizang Pusa (or Ti Tsang P’usa), in Tibet he is Sa-E Nyingpo ས་ཡི་སྙིང་པོ and in Japan he is Jizo. His name may be translated as “Earth Treasury”, “Earth Store”, “Earth Matrix”, or “Earth Womb”. He is one of the most popular of the iconic bodhisattvas, especially in east Asia and Japan, where he often is called upon to guide and protect deceased children and fetuses.

Ksitigarbha primarily is known as the bodhisattva of the hell realm, although he travels to all of the Six Realms and is a guide and guardian of those between rebirths.

The short Ksitigarbaha mantra in English is “OM AH KSHITI GARBHA THALENG HUM” and the long mantra is “CHHIM BHO CHHIM BHO CHIM CHHIM BHO / AKASHA CHHIM BHO / VAKARA CHHIM BHO / AMAVARA CHHIM BHO / VARA CHHIM BHO / VACHIRA CHHIM BHO / AROGA CHHIM BHO / DHARMA CHHIM BHO / SATEVA CHHIM BHO / SATENI HALA CHHIM BHO / VIVA ROKA SHAVA CHHIM BHO / UVA SHAMA CHHIM BHO / NAYANA CHHIM BHO / PRAJÑA SAMA MONI RATNA CHHIM BHO / KSHANA CHHIM BHO / VISHEMA VARIYA CHHIM BHO / SHASI TALA MAVA CHHIM BHO / VI AH DRASO TAMA HELE / DAM VE YAM VE / CHAKRASE / CHAKRA VASILE / KSHILI PHILE KARAVA / VARA VARITE / HASERE PRARAVE / PARECHARA BHANDHANE / ARADANE / PHANARA / CHA CHI CHA CHA / HILE MILE AKHATA THAGEKHE / THAGAKHI LO / THHARE THHARE MILE MADHE / NANTE KULE MILE / ANG KU CHITABHE / ARAI GYIRE VARA GYIRE / KUTA SHAMAMALE /TONAGYE TONAGYE / TONAGULE / HURU HURU HURU / KULO STO MILE / MORITO / MIRITA / BHANDHATA / KARA KHAM REM / HURU HURU” which is commonly used to avert danger, or to avert problems of any kind. It is said that even reciting this mantra just a few times will help you.

The Ksitigarbha mantra in the video below being chanted for the specific purpose of pacifying predicted catastrophic earthquakes from occurring in California (2016), and because he is so closely tied to the earth, this mantra is perceived as the most powerful against such dangers. The viewers are urged to chant themselves, record, and report how many they’ve also done for this cause:

Please also see “The Sutra on the Original Vows and Attainment of Merits of Ksitigrabha Bodhisatta” for more on Ksitigrabha and Tibetan hell itself.

Ksitigarbha is the savior of souls who have to suffer in the underworld, therefore his statues are common in cemeteries. Pebbles are often placed next to statues in the hopes that it will lessen the time children spend in the underworld.  His features are commonly made more baby-like to resemble the children he protects. He is also believed to be one of the protective deities of travelers, and firefighters as well. Hopefully he might be able to work some of his wonders and get the Tibetan and Chinese children who might end up in Lao gai prison, executed and/or completely disenfranchised from their own culture and heritage out of the hell their parents have endured.

Search for “Ksitigarbha” on Ebay- (Also includes some Japanese items, a lower number than it should be because he is often not called by his name and therefore doesn’t come up on the search. He is often just called “Buddha” or “Tang Monk” by Chinese sellers.)

  • 1,157 on 12/17/2015 including 12 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,161 on 01/01/2016 including 11 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,159 on 01/13/2016 including 11 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,188 on 01/22/2016 including 7 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,195 on 03/15/2016 including 21 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,253 on 04/06/2016 including 15 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,229 on 04/22/2016 including 11 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,310 on 05/10/2016 including 30 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,396 on 06/21/2016 including 23 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,505 on 07/25/2016 including 24 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,572 on 08/18/2016 including 28 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,613 on 08/30/2016 including 18 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,681 on 09/26/2016 including 27 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,747 on 10/27/2016 including 30 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,892 on 12/13/2016 including 35 auctioned in 10 days
  • 1,926 on 03/02/2017 including 37 auctioned in 10 days
  • 2,031 on 04/18/2017 including 43 auctioned in 10 days
ksitigarbhasales2015to2017
Ksitigarbha sales on Ebay, have been steadily increasing since I began tracking them in 2015, as well as reporting people’s things that were being sold as stolen to Ebay.

Pendants:

Sold as new, but the wood is so durable, they could be quite used and no one would know, particularly if restrung which is often the case.

These types of religious pendants are most often sold as new, but the wood is so durable, they could be quite used and no one would ever know. I’ve bought a dozen of these now and 8 out of 10 had enough damage that I would call them definitely used before. I’ve also tried wearing one around the house on my waist and it took weeks to show any kind of damage to the naked eye though I was outside gardening and doing whatever with it on.

damagedwoodab
Wooden religious pendants with scratches and damage showing previous wear.
ksitigarbhawoodba
Made from Ebony

ksitigarbhacinnabarad

ksitigarbhacinnabarac

Most of these “cinnabar” pendants are not cinnabar at all but a resin that doesn’t change color like real mercury ore in sunlight nor expose people to the hazards of this toxic metal, but that is not to say it is all good if they are used pendants from a religious prisoner or robbed from someone’s grave. In many cases pendants are being sold without string attached at all, which in the case of Chinese who are so fond of knots and silk, is very, very strange. Particularly for something considered to be “sacred”, to be sold this way is a red flag within itself. Does this look new to you? Look at the top edge in particular.

cinnabarksitigarbhaab

ksitigarbhametalca

Taken directly from a monk’s neck- the leather shines from grease from being worn, darkened by it and age.

ksitigarbhametalcc

Metal Statues:

Ksitigarbha

Ksitigarbha carries a staff to force open the gates of hell and a wish-fulfilling jewel to light up the darkness. Said to resemble whom he protects, he’s depicted with youthful features, a bald head like a baby’s and even some baby fat.

Ksitigarbha in color

  • Sold 7/31/2015 for $6.87 (auction)
The same statue, painted differently, in which he is missing his staff.
The same statue, painted differently, in which he is missing his staff.
  • Sold 8/18/2015 for $56.33 (auction)
Again Ksitigarbha is missing his staff.
Again Ksitigarbha is missing his staff.

Below is the same statue as above, but he has his staff. Assumably when these were taken from many a Tibetan (and/or Chinese) family, not much care might have been taken, thus many of his staffs were lost, damaged or whatever along the way.

ksitigarbhatwoga

In this depiction he purposefully has no staff, only the wish-fulfilling jewel.

  • Sold 8/20/2015 for $11.47 (auction)

In this depiction Ksitigarbha has no staff (nor has he lost it along the way), only the wish-fulfilling jewel.

ksitigarbhara

ksitigarbhata

ksitigarbhatwoba

ksitigarbhatwoda

The statues being sold above are without his staff, while the statue below is. Paint over copper.

ksitigarbhatwoea

In another popular pose Ksitigarbha is seen facing the four cardinal directions:

Ksitigarbha facing four directions

Ksitigarbha is also frequently depicted resting in contemplation on a bench with a third eye prominent on his forehead, but then I could be wrong and perhaps this is Xuanzang, another very important Chinese Buddhist monk.

Ksitigarbha kicking it on a bench

In addition to using each other’s photographs of items, sellers who deal in huge volumes like good_deal2258 with many, many multiples of the same statues use several sets of different photographs to sell the same item. Also this exact same dealer is selling such huge quantities of antiques, both Tibetan and Chinese, that it easily would reach Ebay’s $30,000 cap on what a seller can sell in a year within a week’s time.

  • On 12/30/2015 good_deal2258 had 1,339 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • On 1/22/2016 they had 1,428 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • On 4/6/2016 they had 1,520 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • on 05/10/2016 they had 1,510 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • on 08/27/2016 they had 1,818 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • 0n 09/26/2016 they had 1,645 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • on 10/27/2016 they had 1,780 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • 0n 03/02/2017 they had 1,659 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days
  • On 04/18/2017 they had 2,254 items listed to be auctioned within 7 days

An example of prices for the items: auctions ending 12/30/2015 at 12:50PM- typical items that it usually sells from jade to pottery to religious artifacts (ending in 1 minute) $7.50, $20.50, $23.50, $11.04, $2.25, $39.87, $85.50, $20.50, $6.75, $34.00, $18.50, $51.00, $25.00, $21.50, $40.00, $3.25, $6.50, $20.50, $49.00, $11.50, $43.00, $10.50, $55.70, $61.00, $15.50, $2.25, $24.50, $15.50, $27.00, $14.11, $21.50, $3.25, $3.25, $25.75  (ending in 2 hours)- average price per item is $25.15 (820.97/34=25.146)

Another tally for average price of items taken 1/22/2016 (ending in 1 minute) $12.50, $30.00, $19.50, $24.50, $51.00, $29.25, $14.30, $14.50, $44.50, $13.50, $3.30, $11.50, $28.00, $8.50, $16.20, $17.50, $15.50, $36.00, $8.50, $19.50, $26.00, $4.25, $11.50, $102.50, $5.50, $9.07, $26.55, $8.50, $18.00, $6.50, $1.25, $26.26, $61.00 (ending in 6 hours)- average price per item is $21.97 (724.93/33= 21.967)

So let’s take the average of the averages here- (25.146 + 21.967)/2= $23.55 then multiply it by the average number of items being sold per week:

23.55 (average price per unit) x 1383 (units sold per week)= $32,569.65 estimated total sales per week

The estimated yearly sales for just this one shop good_deal2258  carrying mainly Tibetan antiques (estimated at 70%) is $32,569.65 x 52=

$1,693,621.80

Though this is a major shop who does serious volume and many Chinese sellers don’t sell that much, it all adds up to quite a lot that the Tibetans will never see again. All the money goes into PayPal accounts which are fairly anonymous and in US funds. Presumably since none of the goods are ever shipped from Tibet nor sold by Tibetans or monks, they never see a dime.

Update on Seller 04/2017: this seller good_deal2258  along with some other sellers I’ve noticed often bids against legitimate bidders to raise the final prices, and therefore some of these sales do not actually occur, but the item just gets relisted. It is unclear of how much of the total volume of sales this is so the estimate above could be wildly off. Also apparently Ebay allows the sellers to cancel auctions if they don’t meet the final price they want, so often I will go back to a linked auction in progress to find a placeholder by Ebay saying the auction was canceled because the “item was lost or broken” (though the same item goes right back up for sale), or Ebay says it can’t find it at all and gives search results like this page:

cancelledauctionpageaa

ksitigarbhaaa

Above is a larger statue of Ksitigarbha at 42 inches that would have probably been placed near the entrance of a monastery- definitely not something that was personally owned, but another one of those items taken from communal places of religious worship. As you can see, there are just two shops that seem to have all of these statues, and because they are using the same background of outdoor hallway with red fencing, the two shops are probably owned by the same people. It doesn’t sound like they just randomly bought these Ksitigarbha statues from someone it Tibet if they own 5 of them (& the only ones for sale) not to mention the ones that they might have already sold; and it doesn’t sound like any resources are being redistributed to the people themselves if only one person or family has control of all and receives all the money from sales of such; and it certainly isn’t even a free market if there is only one who has a monopoly over the entire stock of these statues and is able to fix prices on all.

Glass and Crystal:

Crystal Ksitigarbha
Crystal Ksitigarbha

ksitigarbhacrystalba

One of the really sad things is that the “Honesty shops” or any seller’s name with honesty in it seem to be the ones which are completely full of Tibetan and religious items which are all so rare and sold so cheap that they are surely not such an “honest” businesses. If you have two shops with the same items you are selling at the same prices, does that sound honest? Why would you do that? Isn’t exactly a free market if you monopolize and often times flood it, let alone the other unscrupulous business practices going on.

Pottery:

This Ksitigarbha statue is made of the highest quality fired clay in the world called Dehua porcelain from Dehua, Fujan Province, China where the finest Blanc de Chine has been made for centuries. Though this was definitely made in China, this is not to say that it wasn’t owned by rich Tibetans or a monastery who had specially imported it, though the Chinese have also desecrated many of their own religious sites and robbed their own rich too.

ksitigarbhaporcelainaa

Thangkas:

Ksitigarbha Thanka

Newer thangkas showing heavy Chinese influence that were also woven by a machine, which indicate these were probably confiscated by the government relatively recently.

ksitigarbhada

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