Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Iconometry Main Page

Iconometry Main Page | Drawings & Sketchbooks

Buddhist artistic traditions of the Himalayas, Tibet and Central Asia follow guidelines for body proportions. Measurements vary according to body types such as buddha figures, peaceful and wrathful deities and human teachers. There are numerous variations. The Indian root textual sources for the study of iconometric proportions are the Manjushri Mulakalpa, Samvarodaya, Krishna Yamari and Kalachakra Tantras. Early iconometry only pertained to Buddha figures and Tantric deities. These measurements and proportions have also varied over time and between Himalayan regions, cultural groups, painting schools and traditions. Very good artists will rely less on iconometric measurement and work more from free hand drawing. Excessive reliance on the grids and measurements can result in a very stiff and rigid final result.

See an unfinished painting that used minimal iconometric lines to center the Buddha image in the composition and then everything else appears to be free-hand.