Images of Buddha and their meaning

buddha images

Buddha images or images of Buddha, translated as Buddharupa in Sanksrit as the models of the Buddha, the awakened one are one of the popular iconographic representations of any individual or deity all over the world. The term Buddha image can also be used to refer with the sculptures and paintings of the Buddha. In many Buddhist temples, monasteries and homes, the images of Buddha are generally positioned higher than the people and other objects as the symbol or respect and reverence. One of the forms of Buddhism, the Theravada Buddhism, do not have the principle of worshipping the Buddha images but the Theravada Buddhist do tend to pay respects to the Buddha. While, the Mahayana Buddhists believe that directly worshipping the Buddhist images or images of Buddha may take them closer and further in the path of the enlightenment. Therefore the history of the Buddha images may vary on the basis of the region of origin and the way they are perceived.

Meaning of different appearance of the Buddhist images

  • In the western part of the world, the Buddha is often seen as a chubby and bald figure. This particular bald figure is better known as happy Buddha or laughing Buddha which depict the Buddha's further incarnation in a Chinese monk who considered himself as an incarnation of the Buddha. These kinds of figures are not to be mistaken for the historical Buddha or the Shakyamuni Buddha.
  • The historical or Shakyamuni Buddha is more widely known in the Southeast Asian region as well as the Indian subcontinent in Asia. The images of the Buddha represent the Buddha as a skinny or emaciated. This is also a representation of the struggle, Buddha went through while attaining enlightenment while the Japanese Buddha images are normally square and solid.
  • The long earlobes in the images of the Buddha symbolize the riches he had before leaving the luxury of palace to search for the truth about life. Hence, the long earlobes in the Buddha statue represent the Buddha's past wealth when he used to wear heavy earrings. Similarly he also cut his hair during the process of leaving the palace.
  • Other familiar feature of the Buddha images is the protruding head of the Buddha, better known as the Ushnisha which depicts the disconnection between the mind and body.
  • A tuft of hair growing from the top of the hair in the images of Buddha, known as Urna, symbolizes the wisdom Buddha he attained after the enlightenment.
  • Another peculiar feature of the Buddha images is a dot between the two eyes of the Buddha, known as the third eye of the Buddha. This third eye represents the enlightenment and the all-seeing ability of the Buddha.
  • In the images of Buddha originating from China and Japan, the Buddha is depicted with an upper body robe as it is considered socially inappropriate for a Buddhist monk or a nun to show the upper arm of the body.

Similarly, alongside these unique features or characteristics of various Buddhist images, there are other variations of the Buddha images on the basis of the region of the origin, their styles and the poses or Mudras. The variations of these unique characteristics are found in the rare and antique Buddha images originating from Burma and other Southeast Asian nations. You can visit our online Buddha images gallery to view or even purchase the Buddha statue of your choice while going through the variation in styles and features of the Buddha images.

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