Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Iconic & Non-iconic Figures Main Page

Iconography Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Iconic & Non-iconic Figures Description
- Bodhisattva Sculptural Forms (Non-iconic)
- Aniconic Figures (Sutra/Narrative based)
- Iconographic Figures (Tantra based)
- Manjushri Non-iconic Forms
- Manjushri (Relaxed Left Arm or Sattva Posture)
- Bon Figures
- Hindu Figures
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Indra, Indian Gods
- Others...

Figurative art is the first of the three main subject groups of mural and scroll work paintings. The other two subjects are narrative and diagrammatic. Of course the latter two include figurative art but to a lesser degree and visually not the principal topic of the art work. The terms non-iconic and aniconic are used interchangeably in this context.

Figures are divided into two categories, non-iconic (narrative) and iconic. The non-iconic figures are primarily all of those characters from Foundational and Mahayana Buddhism. They are all of the human and heavenly characters involved in dialogue or represented as the audience in the sutra literature.

Iconic figures are characters, buddhas, bodhisattvas and deities that have a fixed physical appearance for the purposes of meditation in generation stage yoga according to Tantric theory.

Jeff Watt 8-2018 [updated 9-2020]