Buddhist group withdraws charges over 'Ultraman Buddha' paintings

Buddhist group withdraws charges over 'Ultraman Buddha' paintings

Says painting contains 'hidden symbols'

The second of the four controversial Ultraman Buddha paintings. This one sold for two million baht when the auction closed on Friday. (Supplied photo)
The second of the four controversial Ultraman Buddha paintings. This one sold for two million baht when the auction closed on Friday. (Supplied photo)

A Buddhist group has withdrawn the charges it filed against five people over controversial paintings that depicted Lord Buddha as the superhero Ultraman.

Jaroon Wannakasinanon,  of the Buddhists' Power group, went to the Crime Suppression Division and withdrew the charges pressed earlier against the artist, university student Suparat Chaijungreed, and her supervisor Veerayut (surname not given); Papichaya Na Nakhon, director of Terminal 21 shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima; national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat; and lawyer Decha Kittiwithayanant.

The group earlier alleged the five people had "tarnished Buddhism" by their roles in the paintings controversy.

Mr Jaroon said on Monday that the paintings appeared to contain hidden symbols and, as such, should not be considered ordinary works of art. 

The group, he said, had determined that the people named in its complaint, except Mr Veerayut, were "tools of elements [within society] who are out to undermine Buddhism".

Mr Jaroon said the group knew of at least two other people who supported the public display of the controversial paintings, and was moving to file formal complaints against them.

"We intend to pursue legal cases against all wrongdoers to the fullest extent of the law, in order to prevent the image of Lord Buddha becoming a target of sacrilege," he said.

"If we allow this to go on, we might see pictures of the Buddha sprouting animal heads in the name of artistic expression."

The painter, a student at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, came under attack after two of her four paintings were shown at an exhibition at Terminal 21 in Nakhon Ratchasima on Sept 3.

Mr Chalermchai was in the group's firing line for coming out in support of the student.

Two of the paintings have since been sold at auction, with one fetching 600,000 baht and the second 2 million baht. Proceeds from the sales will go to charity, according to the vendor.


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