A guide to understand Buddhist and Hindu sculptures
Buddhist and Hindu sculptures can be very creative and elaborate. Did you know that every aspect of the sculpture has a meaning? If you find yourself on a tour of Kathmandu you will likely ask yourself what the sculptures mean. In this article, I discuss some of the meanings behind ancient Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. Have you ever seen a Budda sitting in a chair? Keep reading to find out what it means
Hand symbols, known as mudra, are used to symbolize emotions, conditions, situations, and can help identify the deity being represented. The following are some common mudras.
Namaskara-mudra hand symbol represents devotion or prayer. It is also the national greeting of Nepal.
Tarjani-mudra is a gesture of menace. Have you ever known a pointing finger to be good?
Abhaya-mudra is kind of like a super hero pose that means have no fear, or reassurance. It is one of the most common poses in Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.
Vyakhyana-mudra represents both explanation and an argument. Just throw this hand symbol up next time your boss is getting on you about the TPS reports.
Bhumisparsa-mudra is like filing a document or record. It roughly translates to “earth as my witness.”
Dhyani-mudra is a symbol of meditation. If there is something in the hands while they are in this position, it means the deity or person is meditating on that subject. like a begging bowl, or the vessel of immortality.
Varada-mudra is a gesture of charity or giving of a gift.
Dharmacakra-mudra symbolizes preaching or teaching and originates from the first Buddhas first lesson, which started Buddhism. It must have been a powerful speech!
Uttarabodhi-mudra symbolizes perfection. This gesture is commonly performed by Gautama Buddha, and Namasangiti, which is a Buddhist deity.
You can use the postures of Buddhist and Hindu deities to help identify the mood of the sculpted deity. Postures are also an attribute used to identify which deity is being represented.
The “heroic diagonal” stance represents ferocity or destruction. A common deity to use this stance is Vajrapani, the thunderbolt wielder.
Sitting in a “European fashion” identifies royalty. It is extremely rare to see it in a sculpture.
Sitting cross-legged identifies a deity as meditating or symbolizes meditation
Heroic posture symbolizes nobility or truth.
Nrtya stance represents dancing, which symbolizes wrath.
Rajalilasana represents royalty
Lalitasana sitting pose symbolizes relaxation
pose is the symbol of peacefulness or benevolence