Buddha statues have become an important subject of study

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Buddha statues have become an important subject of study

Buddha statues have become an important subject of  study

Buddha statues have become an important subject of study

Buddha Statues: Like the life work of Gautama Buddha, the philosophy and sect of Buddhism, Buddha statues have become an important subject of research and study. The tradition of symbols and idolatry in Buddhism is studied from many perspectives, such as the early Buddha statues, the different styles relative to the Buddha’s place-time-lineage-sect, and Buddhist iconography.

Buddha origins originated in India as did Buddhism. During the post-Buddhist period between twelve hundred and fifteen hundred years, this idol spread to all other parts of Asia except West Asia. After the life of Gautama Buddha, the statue of Buddha came into existence. Five hundred years passed. The Buddha’s original Theravada religion mentions the form of the Buddha (Visuddhimagga mentions the Buddha form or Ruparman) In that religion, the Buddha’s virtues were revered, but his idol-worship is not mentioned.

Stone Buddha statue at Mathura, 5th century.

The human form of the Buddha was assumed in the early Ainayan sect of Buddhism. So idolatry was forbidden to them. The symbols of the Buddha appear to have a unique significance in his art. The four major events in the life of the Buddha are represented by symbols. The art of the Hinayana sect remained mainly symbolic, with the symbol of birth as an elephant (white yard), the symbol of knowledge as the Pimpalvriksha (Bodhi tree), the symbol of teaching as Chakra (Dharmachakra), and the stupa as the symbol of Buddha’s Nirvana. Later, with the rise of the Mahayana sect, idolatry began in Buddhism. In it, the Buddha was considered a transcendental deity and his devotion was given priority.

Various images of Buddha were created from it. The Buddhists of this sect, out of respect for the supreme virtues of the Buddha, wanted to display his physical and mental qualities to the best of their ability, and accordingly, various artists created Buddha statues according to their own ideas. Due to this, Buddhist sculpture and painting developed rapidly. In its later stages, the Vajrayana sect produced many Buddhist deities. A series of ‘Maitreya’ Buddha before and after Gautama Buddha was created and accordingly a significant increase in the type and number of idols.

There are many differences of opinion among scholars as to where and when the first Buddha statues were created. According to French archaeologist Alfred Fouche, the first Buddha-style statues were made in Gandhara. According to Anand Kumaraswamy, they must have been created by artists from Gandhara and Mathura at about the same time, i.e. during the reign of Akanishka (1st or 2nd century AD). The Chinese traveler Fahian (4th-5th century AD) mentions seeing a Buddha statue in Jetavanarama of Sravasti. Buddha statues began to be created during the lifetime of Gautama Buddha.

The incarnation of the Buddha appears to have taken place in different countries, in different ways, in different styles. Greek artists, according to their imagination, In the first century, the image of a preaching Buddha was created in the Gandhara style, based on the idols available, while the meditating Buddha statues at Asarnath or Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka were created by local artists according to their own ideas. If the costume on the idol is as per the signs of the Mathura sculptor, then it is one with the idol. It shows an outburst of emotion. The image of the meditating Buddha was more important in the minds of the artists here and they made the idol accordingly. From the face of the idol here, the idea of ​​a meditative yogi is more imprinted in the mind. The idol at Anuradhpur shows peace and contemplation, as well as grandeur and fearlessness.

An image of Buddha can be seen on a coin of Kanishka’s career. Yes it is one of the earliest Buddha statues but it is very small in size. Normally, Buddha statues are seen sitting, standing (standing) and lying (horizontally spread). In addition, walking statues are found in Thailand. One can tell which country the idol belongs to by looking at the face, especially the nose, or the dress or the placement of the crown. Also, Buddha statues appear in different postures. Some appear in meditative postures, while others appear in sermons. Some swastikas appear in mudras showing welfare. This is also known as Abhayamudra.

Greek artists from the north were able to invent their art in many lands. In Kashmir and the northwestern provinces of Afghanistan, the statues at Begram in Abamian and in the Kabul Museum, as well as in various handicrafts in Fondukistan, reflect the Gandhara style. Turkestan in Central Asia is a mixture of Gandhara and Indian styles, while sculptures from the Chinese region are dominated by Chinese artists. The Buddha statue reached Japan via Karashahr, Kizil, Turfan, Tunghan, China, Korea. Su from Nara in Japan. 16.15 m (53 feet) tall metal statue is magnificent and spectacular. Although the Mahayana sect originated in Andhra Pradesh in southern India, it was worshiped in sympathy in the northern Punjab and northwestern regions of Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. The statue at Yun-Gang in China features a smile, eyes spread out, and a knot of hair on the head. Nepal and Tibet have adopted the technical method of sculpture and the description of the idols there is in the instrument.

In contrast to Gandhara art, artists from Mathura and Sarnath gave their Buddha statues an Indian look. He used the texts of the Buddha, especially the Guptakali (4th to 7th centuries), used in Indian texts to create idols. An Indian deity, Indra, is depicted around the Buddha as he descends to earth from the Triune Gods. The face is expressive. ‘Ushnish’ is the title. Mudras are shown with the right hand. In a vertical statue, the remnant form of Gandhara art is reduced to a height above the ankle. There is a circle of artistic paintings around the head. The image at Katra shows the Buddha in a northern robe. The idol is not beautiful but thick and heavy, with a guard on the side of the idol and arches with various designs on the head. There are also some Gandhara art lovers in this artists’ association. An inscription on a vertical statue found at Sarnath gives the date of Kanishka’s reign (131 or 147 AD).

The garments of the idol have Hindu style dhoti as well as lime cloth on the left arm and shoulder which is shown up to the ankle. It is one of the first few idols in Mathura. Maybe this is Bodhisattva. Because the waist is naked. इ.स. E. From the first century to the year 320 AD, the work of Buddhist artists appears to have been more profound and of a higher standard. The Buddha statues created by the artists were imitated not only in Sri Lanka but also in Champa in Indochina and Sempaga in Celebes. Among the idols found at Nagarjunakonda is a vertical idol with a distinctive but limestone garment. One of the shoulders of the idol is uncovered and the upper garment is called ‘Sanghati’. The craftsmanship in the stupa here is more than the craftsmanship in Sarnath.

In many places, the Buddha’s place in the stupa is left empty. Elsewhere, many Buddha statues are scattered. Although this is the original Hinayana region, the Mahayana sect seems to have had a great impact. The head of the Buddha statue is covered with short curly hair and looks beautiful. The area has a mix of sculptures from Gandhara and Mathura.

The Buddha had a ‘thalam’ (the distance between the top of the head and the tip of the chin) of the meditating idol, while the height of the relation body was five thalam. The idol was seated on a trident with the top of the head and the bottom of the feet. In the tall idol, the distance from head to toe was nine thalam.

In the energy of the occult, Buddha images can be seen everywhere on the walls. Following these ideas, idols were carved in China from the 3rd to the 10th century. Chaityaghar also became an independent temple. The high peaks of the temple began to come into existence. Buddha statues began to be made according to the descriptions in Buddhist literature. The symptoms of Ushnish and Mahapurusha on his body started showing. The vertical statues of the Buddha were bent and the ‘Tribhang’ stage of Indian dance began to appear in it. An example of this period is the seated idol of the preaching Buddha at Sarnath. Artists from Ajanta also spontaneously created works based on Buddhacharitra. Its effects can be seen in Sri Lanka in the south and also in the southeastern countries. The cloth carved on the body of the vertical idol is also transparent. The realm of intelligence was also at Sarnath.

There is an ancient meditation idol at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The inner feeling, inner peace and grandeur seen in that idol create respect in the mind of the beholder. According to Rahul Walpole, the statue was erected in the third century BC. In the Mahavansa, it is said in Thuparama, ‘God has made Piyatissen Patiththapitam’ (revered). Also, the scientific standard of how to make a Buddha statue began to appear. This idol Some scholars say that it was formed in the third century. Influenced by this art, a bronze Buddha statue has been erected in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. There are also statues of Chudasakat arranged on the head in various places. In Siam (Thailand) and Cambodia, idols with headlights are found. Bangkok’s palace, like Chakravarti’s, is adorned with intermittent ornaments and gem-studded idols. The Buddha statue at Borobudur (Java) is of Indian style. Jataka stories are also found carved there.

The Buddha images in the four meditative postures at Borobudur are holding Indian images. Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, has a Gupta-style image. The garment is transparent and reaches to the ankles. There are many images in Angkor, with idols in Dharmachakra seals.

Observing the Buddha statues in different countries reveals some of the salient features, which are as follows: However, this price is displayed in the idol at Sarnath and also in the idol at Anuradhpur. These qualities are especially evident in Gupta Indian idols. These Indian sculptures are imitated in sculptures from the Southeast Asian continent as well or with slight variations. In that sense, the idol at Anuradhapur or the Gupta idol in India has a special feature.


1. Bhattacharya. Benoytosh, The Indian Buddhist Iconography, Calcutta, 1958.

The Indian Buddhist Iconography

2. Coomaraswamy, A.K. Elements of Buddhist Iconography, New Delhi, 1972.

Elements of Buddhist Iconography

3. Gupte.R.S. The Iconography of the Buddhist Sculptures (caves) of Ellora, Auangabad, 1964.

4. Rowland, Benjamin, The Art and Architecture of India-Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, London, 1959.

5. Rowland, Benjamin, The Evolution of the Buddha Image, New York.1968.

Read Buddha and his Dhamma by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar