Himalayan Art Resources

Iconography: Buddhist Iconography Main Page

Buddhist Iconography Main Page | Iconography Main Page

Subjects & Topics:
- Buddhist Iconography Introduction
- The Three Basic Figurative Forms Outline
- Iconography Subjects Outline
- Iconography Sources & Texts Outline
- Confusions
- Others...

[1] Hierarchy:
- Traditional Hierarchy

[2] Appearance:
- Three Moods & Gender
- Eleven Figurative Forms by Appearance
- Eleven Types of Deities by Appearance
- Physical Features (Faces, Arms, Legs & Gestures)

[3] Class & Function:
- Four Classes of Tantra
- Four Tantric Activities & Four Colours
- Deities According to Function

Introduction: In Himalayan and Tibetan style art the study of Tantric Buddhist iconography involves the combination of eight subjects under the three categories of [1] Hierarchy (1), [2] Appearance (2-5), and [3] Class & Function (6-8). The category of Hierarchy is the traditional manner in which the figures and deities are arranged and understood according to importance within the religious tradition. The category of Appearance is based on objective observation mixed with religious tradition and the terminology of the indigenous artistic traditions. The category of Class & Function is based on the theoretical and abstract categorizations within the various Tantric Buddhist traditions.

Jeff Watt February 27th, 2010 [updated 2-2016, 5-2017]