Located atop the Palongsan Mountain near the city of Daegu in South Korea, stands a large statue of Buddha. Statues of this kind are not rare in Asia, but this one stands out thanks to its hat, so much so that it is known as Gatbawi Buddha, meaning Stone Hat Buddha.
The granite sculpture is over 13 feet (four meters) tall and wears a wide, six-inch (15 centimeters) thick, flat stone as a hat or a gat, a traditional piece of Korean headwear. The statue dates back to the 9th-century and the Unified Silla period of Korea.
Many stories surround the sculpture, beginning with its origin. According to legend, it was carved by a Buddhist monk named Uihyeon to lead his dead mother’s soul to heaven. While he was working, cranes flew around him to keep him warm at night and also brought him food three times every day.
Another legend states that when a nearby town suffered from a drought, the villagers set the statue on fire causing it to become blackened. This brought upon a dragon and rain to wash the ashes from the sculpture.
Perhaps the most important story surrounds the artifact’s ability to grant a single wish to whoever prays to the statue. It’s believed that there is a stronger chance of success if, on the same day, one also prays to the nearby Bulguksa Buddha located on the same mountain.