Buddha in Arts and Culture

Buddha figure has been a part of popular imagination, and thus, has been portrayed in paintings, sculptures and various other forms of arts and culture.The production of the first anthropomorphic images of the Buddha must be referred to the reign of Kaniska, the emperor of the Kusanas. About the beginning of the Christian era, certain factions within the Buddhist community felt the need for an anthropomorphic representation of their lord.

It is in and around Mathura that the greatest number of Buddha images have been found and based on this evidence it is assumed that this was one of the first creative centers of the Buddha image in human form. The artisans of this area drew largely from main traditional sources: firstly, their own artistic experiences in the making of superhuman figures, and secondly, upon the indication given in Brass literary tradition concerning Sakyamuni's special characteristics (laksana) as Buddha, the superman (Mahapurusha).The humanoid Buddha image embodies a complex of ideas in the world of art and culture. The Buddha came to be thought of having three bodies. There was his actual body or ‘nirmanakaya', which is rarely represented in arts. Even when gesturing or walking, its total calm is conveyed by physical symmetry. The figure is represented either free in the round or in very high relief, always frontal.

In early images, he was seen as seated on a lion-throne (or simhasana), or when he was standing there was sometimes a lion between his feet. This motif related to his well-established title of ‘Sakyasimha' or the ‘Lion of the Sakyas'. A special motif is the ‘wheel of Dharma' or the Dharma Chakra that is associated with the Buddha image. It is the symbol of a ‘Chakravarti' or the just ruler of the world.

  • Gautama Buddha:
    Gautama Buddha was one of the greatest religious teachers that the world has seen. Learn more about his life and attainment of Bodhi.
  • Buddhist Scriptures and Teachings:
    Buddhist scriptures carry the noble teachings of the Buddha . They explore and teach ways to lead a blissful life.
  • Buddha in Arts and Culture:
    Spread of Buddhism influenced the world of art in a remarkable way. Starting from sculptures to paintings, Buddhism gave rise to distinct Schools of art.
  • Buddha Mudras:
    Buddha mudras are specific gestures of the Buddha that have symbolic meanings.

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