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By Martin Quin Pollard
XIAMEN, China (Reuters) - Chinese furniture maker Hong Jinshi first created a couple of pint-sized statues of former U.S. President Donald Trump meditating in a Buddhist pose as a fun project for himself last year.
Six months on, Hong's amusing hobby has turned into a small side-hustle, with a workshop in the town of Dehua in Fujian province on track to produce an inaugural batch of 250 statues of Trump dressed in Buddhist robes with his legs crossed.
Hong was inspired by the potential contrast provided by the two extremisms of Buddhism and a former leader known for his sharp outbursts.
"Our tradition is that a person who is so old and successful ... should start to enjoy his old age and be more relaxed, but he was still tormented and fretting over various desires and uncertainties," Hong said.
Hong has received orders from China and abroad for 200 of the statues, which take 10 days to make and feature a design he refined over several months with the help of a sculptor friend. A 16-cm (6.3-inch) version costs 999 yuan ($152.22) while a 46 cm statue costs 20000 yuan.
Sales would be higher, Hong said, if not for the scores of "fake, copycat and lower quality" imitations that have popped up on popular Chinese online marketplace Taobao at lower prices.
Hong has no idea if Trump has seen the statues, but said he was prepared to offer one to the former leader to help him "to cheer up a bit."
Hong said the project has brought him a lot of happiness, and recommended Trump attempt a similar search for fulfilment.
"Meditation is a look within, where you let go, and stop fighting for fame and fortune," Hong said. "In Trump's current state, to be honest, he is really well-suited to do some meditation in this way."
($1 = 6.56 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Karishma Singh and Jane Wardell)