There are 10 monks who circumambulate around the Buddha. This is accomplished by setting the monks on a disc platform over a series of 3 free rollers and one vertical gear wheel. The outer downturned edge of the disc has gear ‘teeth’ that engage the drive gear. The drive gear is connected to the drive shaft at a ratio that will cause the monks to rotate at a rate of about 3 times slower than the main carriage wheel. This will, therefore, provide one complete monk rotation each 30 seconds [a speed of .6 mph].
The speed can be adjusted by changing the size of the drive gear and the depth of the monk disc platform downturn. However, the depth of downturn does impact the monk turning and bowing mechanism.
Monk Turning and Bowing Mechanism
The monk turning and bowing mechanism [MTBM] is activated as the monks approach the position directly in front of the Buddha. At this point, they turn from their concentric, circumambulatory path to face the Buddha, bow, and offering incense. These three actions are accomplished as follows:
Attached to the bottom of each monk is a tube with a horizontal gear attached. As the monk approaches the bow location, this gear engages with a curved rack gear at one side that is calibrated to cause the monk’s ‘bottom’ gear to rotate 90º. As the monk passes the Buddha, he bows [see below], continues to move and then engages another rack gear on the opposite side that rotates him back 90º.
Each monk’s ‘body’ is split and hinged at the waist. The lower portion is attached to the tube and gear system noted above. Set into the tube is a solid rod that can move up and down and has a small wheel at its bottom. As the monk moves into position in front of the Buddha, the wheel runs over a shaped surface that causes it and the rod to rise. As the rod rises, it pushes up onto the back of the hinged upper torso, causing the monk to appear to bow. All mechanisms are concealed by the monk’s robe.
As the monk bows, his arms, with weighted clasped hands and pivoted at the shoulder, will move outwards to achieve equilibrium. This movement will give the appearance of the monk making an offering. Mechanisms within the monk’s hollow arms can be devised to allow for the release of a spherical piece of incense at each bow.
By Peter Martin
Last edited on March 20, 2012