The Common Good

The Story Behind the Dalai Lama’s Chair

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Lots of rock stars expect cushy perks at the venues where they perform. Requests can include special food and drink, music, video games and even a puppy to play fetch.

RNS photo courtesy The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.
The red leather and wood chair was made especially for the Dalai Lama. RNS photo courtesy The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y.

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For the Dalai Lama, it’s all about the oversized chair.

Syracuse University requested the special seating for the spiritual leader of Tibet who spoke on campus Monday, and it’s obvious he enjoyed the spacious accommodations.

As he should. The red leather and wood Stickley chair was made especially for him — three times.

Aminy I. Audi, president and CEO of the Fayetteville, N.Y.-based furniture company, explained that the first “Dalai Lama chair” was commissioned for a visit by the Buddhist leader to the University of Buffalo in 2006. Colgate University commissioned a copy of the same chair for a visit there in 2008.

Syracuse called Stickley recently to borrow the third, a copy from The Stickley Museum in Fayetteville for this visit, Audi said.

The chair is an oversized version of Stickley’s classic Eastwood chair, designed by Gustav Stickley.

“It’s an exquisite example of craftsmanship,” Audi said.

The University of Buffalo originally asked that the chair be enlarged to allow the Dalai Lama to pull his legs up and sit cross-legged, a position he prefers, Audi said. Moments after taking the stage Monday, that’s exactly what he did — untying his brown shoes and tucking his legs up under his red and yellow robes. He did the same thing for the afternoon panel and sat that way for all of both sessions. A Stickley moving van was parked behind the Schine Student Center late Monday to take the Dalai Lama chair back to The Stickley Museum.

The Colgate chair was originally auctioned for $25,000, but the donor gave it back to the school, Audi said. The University of Buffalo chair remains on the UB campus.

You may purchase your own custom-made Dalai Lama chair — made of quarter-sewn white oak and a carefully selected hue of red leather, Audi said. The price tag is $8,000.

Emily Kulkus writes for The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y. Via RNS.

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