Himalayan Art Resources

Iconography: Complex Specific Topics

Iconography Main Page

Complex Specific Topics:
- Arhat/Sthavira
- Avalokiteshvara
- Buddha
- Chakrasamvara
- Guhyasamaja
- Heruka: Eight Pronouncement Deities
- Hevajra
- Kalachakra
- Mahakala
- Maitreya
- Manjushri
- Padmasambhava
- Shakyamuni Buddha
- Shri Devi
- Tara
- Vairochana Buddha
- Vajrabhairava
- Vajradhara
- Vajrapani
- Vajrasattva
- Vajrayogini
- Others...

Each of these topics listed above comprise the most complex specific subjects of Buddhist iconography as it relates to art and representations. Two on the list are persons, Shakyamuni and Padmasambhava, the others are deities. The two persons are complex because of the number of different representations that can be found in art along with their life-story narratives, student relationships, purelands, etc. Padmasambhava has also been deified after a fashion and is represented in many different forms of meditational figures from simple to complex.

The tantric deity topics are complex because of the vast number of forms that are represented and described in the various tantras. The Hevajra cycle of tantras number approximately six and the Chakrasamvara cycle over ten tantric texts. Mahakala and Shri Devi are individual deities but are also each a category of deities.

Some of the topics above can have both Mahayana artistic forms and Vajrayana tantric forms (iconic & non-iconic figures), such as Avalokita, Maitreya, Manjushri and Vajrapani. This can also apply to Shakyamuni and Padmasambhava.

Jeff Watt 11-2019 [updated 12-2019]

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