Tibetans and Bhutanese Buddhists have written to the company, Icon Shoes, to express their disgust. They have flooded the company's Facebook page with protest notes. There was no immediate reaction from Icon Shoes. "Unfortunately, it is a basic Buddhist tradition to treat images of Buddhist deities with reverence. Having the images on shoes is disrespect to the Buddhists," wrote Bhuchung Tsering form International Campaign for Tibet.
"Could you kindly consider this and withdraw the shoes from your catalogue," the Tibetan leader demanded.
The North American member of the Tibetan Parliament, Tashi Namgyal, wrote a protest letter to Icon Shoe. "I came across shoes with the image of Lord Buddha on it, manufactured by your company. I was totally shocked and dismayed at being so insensitive," wrote Namgyal.
"Lord Buddha is worshipped by millions of people around the world including the writer of this letter... Therefore, I would like to strongly urge your company to recall every merchandise sold with Buddha's image and stop not only selling such merchandises but manufacture of such products. Above all, I want you to tender unqualified apology posted on your website," Tashi demanded.
Based out of Palm Desert, California, ICON was launched in 1999 by a Hollywood filmmaker and art collector. "Icon is for the art lover and the woman who loves shoes and handbags. We support artists by paying royalty for the use of their art," the company says on its Facebook page.
"I really think you should stop manufacturing the shoes with Buddha's imprint... it is totally against Buddhist sentiment," wrote one Tshewant Gyeltshen on the company's Facebook page.
"I am Buddhist. Your idea of putting Lord Buddha's image on footwear is unethical," said one Yoezer Gempo. "Why do they have to put Lord Buddha's image on shoes? Among Buddhist, we don't even let our shadow fall on His image. It cannot be ignorance since they had the guts to run a company and even call the pattern 'Thangka of the Buddha'," wrote an angry Passang Tshering on his blog.