Himalayan Art Resources

Iconography: Monastic Appearance

Eleven Figurative Forms

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Three Visual Types
- Buddha Appearance
- Arhats/Elders Appearance
- Six Ornaments & Two Excellent Ones
- Monks as Spirits & Deities
- Portrait Sculpture
- Confusions
- Others...

- Monastics: Three Visual Types
- Patchwork Robes: Part 1
- Patchwork Robes: Part 2

Shirts, Robes & Hats:
- Patchwork Robes
- Monastic Shirt (Rounded Edges)
- Monastic Shirt (Square Edges)
- Monastic Half Shirt
- Blue Shirt (Indian Monks)
- Meditation Belt (Monastic & Lay)
- Meditation Cloak
- Hats: Monastic and Lay
- Others...

Monastic Appearance is similar to Buddha Appearance because both share the basic human figure, having one face and two hands, along with the monastic robes and clothing. The appearance is also related to Arhat Appearance. The defining and distinguishing characteristics are colour and shape of the garments, shoes and ornamentation.

Monastic Appearance has two types, Indian and Himalayan. Generally Indian monks do not wear shirts or shoes. They can wear a pandita hat, but not all. When Indian monks are related to Tibet and depicted in historical narrative vignettes, such as Jowo Atisha, then they are typically shown wearing blue shirts to distinguish them from the Tibetan and Himalayan region monks that wear red and orange shirts.

Jeff Watt 7-2013 [updated 2-2017]

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).