It’s a headline that writes itself. The story is that in the late 1930s, a Nazi-sponsored German expedition to Tibet brought back a statue that, after recent testing, turns out to have been carved from a meteorite.
The problem is that I smell a rat. The statue doesn’t look right. I can’t prove anything, and I’m not an art historian, but my bs meter went off when I saw a photo of it. The iconography of Vaiśravaṇa is wrong, the posture of the figure, the face and beard — it just doesn’t look right. I’ve seen enough Tibetan Buddhist sculpture to know that the surprises are endless and there is always more to learn, but I don’t think that uncritical acceptance of this figure is justified.
I don’t doubt the meteorite origin of the piece; it’s that I suspect it was carved in 1930s Germany,or somewhere besides Tibet.
[update: recent article (.pdf) supporting the counterfeit thesis]