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Construction of the Marble Stupa

A unique project of making a stupa out of carved and hollow marble blocks was proposed for the Moloa'a stupa, something that had never been done before. Through his excellent engineering skills and knowledge of Tibetan iconography, Jeremy Morrelli created CAD drawings for nine separate marble blocks to be assembled like legos by crane. A contract for manufacturing by a stone carver in Fujian Province was made.  Everything fit into a 20 ft container. It was off loaded onto the Moloaa property, awaiting assembly by crane when the site was ready.


The Moloaa stupa is made of Carrera marble blocks set on an 18 inch high plinth, faced with Jerusalem limestone. The full height of the stupa from the ground to the top of the crown is 17 feet. 


The first block in the stack weighs approximately three tons. The blocks are hollow in the center allowing for filling the void with sacred objects from top to bottom.  There are two chambers, the lower one filled with 6,000 tsa tsa that the community made, set in sand. Prayer drums and juniper branches were added above the tsa tsa and the lower chamber sealed.  In the upper chamber, various holy objects and relics were placed. A tsokshing or obelisk was inserted in the hollow spire and hung down into the middle of the chamber, hovering above a painting of a mandala, the tip of the tsokshing pointing to the center of the mandala. The upper chamber is considered a perfect dwelling for the deities, encouraging them to hang around and offer their blessings.


There were three separate lifts, two by crane and the final by forklift to insert the horseshoe shaped gau into the opening in the bumpa sealing the upper chamber. In the second lift the harmika, spire, crown pedestal, and gold plated bronze crown were also installed.

In the Tibetan tradition there are eight different types of stupas, commemorating different events in the Buddha’s life.  There are small differences in each. The Kauai stupa is of the lotus type, honoring the memory of the Buddha’s first steps as a child, lotuses appearing beneath his feet at every step.  

The last three photos shown are marble stupas from the same project as the Moloa'a stupa.  The Lerab Ling stupas were gifted by Andrew Fitts to Sogyal Rinpoche and the other two to Lama Karma Rinchen's Dharma Centers.

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