Iconography: Buddhist Iconography in Himalayan & Tibetan Style Art (Figurative) Main Page

Buddhist Iconography Main Page | Iconography Main Page | The Three Basic Figurative Forms | Eleven Figurative Forms | Iconography Subjects Outline | Iconography Sources & Texts Outline | Faces of Deities



Introduction: In Himalayan and Tibetan style art the study of Tantric Buddhist iconography involves the combination of six subjects:
1. The Traditional Tantric Buddhist Hierarchy of Figurative Subjects.
2. The Manner of Depicting the Classes of Figures of the Hierarchy.
3. The Three Traditional Descriptive Categories (Moods).
4. The Four Tantric Buddhist Activities.
5. The Categories of Deities According to Traditional Function.
6. The Four Classes of Buddhist Tantra.
7. Physical Features (Faces, Arms, Legs).



1. The Traditional Tantric Buddhist Hierarchy of Figurative Subjects:
(1) Guru (Teacher)
(2) Buddha (Outline Page)
(3) Ishtadevata/Meditational Deity
(4) Bodhisattva (Outline Page)
(5) Arhat/Pratyekabuddha/Sthavira (Resource Page)
(6) Daka/Dakini (Outline Page)
(7) Protector Deity, Enlightened (Outline Page)
(8) Wealth Deity (Outline Page)
(9) Four Guardian Kings (Outline Page)
(10) Worldly Gods of the Indian Pantheon



2. Iconographic Appearance - the Manner of Depicting the Eleven Classes of Figurative Forms in Tibetan Art:
(1) Buddha Appearance
(2) Arhat Appearance
(3) King Appearance
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(4) Monastic Appearance
(5) Lay Figure Appearance (including Yoga Appearance)
(6) Mahasiddha Appearance
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(7) Peaceful/Deva/Bodhisattva Appearance
(8) Semi-peaceful/Semi-wrathful Appearance
(9) Wrathful Appearance
(10) Animal Headed Gods & Deities
(11) Warrior (Drala) Appearance



3. The Three Traditional Descriptive Categories (Three Moods):
(1) Peaceful Mood/appearance
(2) Semi-peaceful/semi-wrathful Mood/appearance
(3) Wrathful Mood/appearance



4. The Four Tantric Buddhist Activities & the Four Colours:
(1) Peaceful Activities (White Deities)
(2) Increasing Activities (Yellow Deities)
(3) Powerful Activities (Red Deities, Outline Page)
(4) Wrathful Activities (Blue/black Deities)
- Green Colour
- Multi-coloured
- Other Colours



5. The Categories of Deities According to Function (traditional):
(1) Buddha (Main Page, Outline page)
(2) Meditational Deity: (Main Page)
(3) Long-life (Main Page, Outline Page)
(4) Wisdom (Main Page, Outline Page)
(5) Power (Main Page, Outline Page)
(6) Miscellaneous (Main Page)
(7) Protector: (Main Page, Outline)
(8) Protector, Worldly: (Main Page, Outline)
(9) Wealth Deity (Main Page, Outline Page)
(10) Purification (Main Page, Outline Page)



6. The Four Classes of Buddhist Tantra (Main Page):
(1) Kriya Tantra
(2) Charya Tantra
(3) Yoga Tantra
(4) Anuttarayoga Tantra



7. Physical Features:
(1) Faces of Deities
(2) Arms of Deities
(3) Legs of Deities
(4) Trampled Deities
(5) Colours in Himalayan Style Art

Jeff Watt February 27th, 2010 [updated 6-2015]