In 1955, the largest solid gold statue in existence was accidentally discovered when a 14th-century statue of Buddha that was covered in plaster was being moved.
The Golden Buddha, officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwanna Patimakon, commonly known in Thai as Phra Sukhothai Traimit, is a gold Maravijaya Attitude seated Buddharupa statue, with a weight of 5.5 tonnes (5,500 kilograms). It is located in the temple of Wat Traimit, Bangkok, Thailand.
In 1954, a new Viharn building was built at the temple to house the statue. It was moved to its new location on 25 May 1955; there are a variety of accounts of what exactly happened next, but it is clear that during the final attempt to lift the statue from its pedestal, the ropes broke and the statue fell hard on the ground. At that moment, some of the plaster coatings chipped off, allowing the gold surface underneath to be seen. Work was immediately stopped so that an evaluation could be made.
All the plaster was carefully removed and during the process, photos were taken and are now displayed in the Temple for visitors. Pieces of the actual plaster are also on public display. When all the plaster was removed, it was found that the gold statue actually consisted of nine parts that fit smoothly together. A key was also found encased in plaster at its base, which can be used to disassemble the statue, allowing for easier transportation.
The golden statue was discovered very close to the commemoration of the twenty-fifth Buddhist Era (2500 years since Gautama Buddha's passing) so the Thai news media was full of reports and many Buddhists regarded the occurrence as miraculous. On 14 February 2010, a large new building was inaugurated at the Wat Traimit Temple to house the Gold Buddha. The building also contains the Bangkok Chinatown Heritage Centre and an exhibition on the origin of the Gold Buddha.