Himalayan Art Resources

Shakyamuni Buddha: Iconography (Types & Forms)

Shakyamuni Buddha Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description
- Iconographic Form
- Buddha Appearance
- Thirty-two Major & Eighty Minor Marks
- Number Sets
- Confusions: Akshobhya Buddha, Tonpa Shenrab, (all figures with Buddha Appearance)
- Others...

Videos:
- Thirty-two Major Marks
- Shakyamuni & Akshobhya Buddha: A Confusion About the Vajra Scepter

Study Topics:
- Iconic Depictions
- Narrative Depictions
- Tantric Depictions

Formal in appearance, Shakyamuni Buddha typically gazes forward with partially closed eyes and the blue-black hair on the head is piled in a tuft on top with a single gold ornament adorning the crown. Between the eyebrows is a white dot (urna) and adorning the neck are three curved horizontal lines. The earlobes are long and pierced. With the right arm bare the right hand is extended across the knee in the earth touching gesture (mudra). The left performs the gesture (mudra) of meditation - palm upward in the lap. Across the left shoulder is a saffron coloured patchwork robe. A similar lower garment is tied at the waist with a cloth belt. The legs are folded in vajra posture.

Depictions of Shakyamuni Buddha:
- Child Form
- With Shariputra & Maudgalyayana
- Sixteen Elders/Sthavira/Arhat (single composition)
- Mandala (Sixteen Elders)
- Thirty-five Confession Buddhas (sculpture & painting)
- Tantric Mandalas (painting)
- Jowo depictions in Lhasa (painting)
- Hands & Foot Prints
- Vajra Scepter Seat (sculpture)
- Crowned Buddha (sculpture)
- Reclining Pose (sculpture)
- Sandalwood Buddha (sculpture & painting)
- Standing Pose (sculpture)
- Others...

Vajra Posture: a Buddhist term referring to a seated position where the feet are placed sole up on the thigh of the opposite leg; right over left. In the West this posture is almost universally referred to as the lotus posture because that is the name used by the major Hindu traditions and in Hatha Yoga, subjects which are generally more familiar to Western audiences. The location of the Buddha's enlightenment in India, now called Bodhgaya, is called Vajrasana in Buddhist literature. The posture the Buddha sat in while reaching enlightenment is the vajra posture, and the highest meditation (samadhi) that is accomplished on reaching Buddhahood, in this vajra location and seated in vajra posture, is vajra samadhi.

Database Search: All Images | Painting | Sculpture | Mandala

Jeff Watt [updated 4-2017, 12-2019, 2-2022]

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