Himalayan Art Resources

Indian Deity: Indra Iconography

Indra Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Seated, relaxed posture
- Seated, relaxed posture with Indrani: HAR #30113
- Seated, arms outstretched
- Standing
- Riding a white elephant
- Mask: HAR #90066
- Holding a conch: HAR #80635
- Retinue figure, narrative depictions of the Buddha's life story
- Holding a stringed instrument (Wheel of Life Paintings)
- Retinue figure in a mandala
- Figure beneath the feet (trampled)
- Indrani (consort)
- Confusions: Vajrapani, Vajrasattva
- Others...

Identification: the God Indra is generally identified by three iconographic features: crown, horizontal eye on the forehead and a vajra scepter. The unique crown is broad and fan shaped. The third eye in the middle of the forehead is in a horizontal position. The vajra scepter is very often placed on a flower blossom rising next to the left shoulder and sometimes held in the left hand.

In Buddhist paintings Indra is often depicted with a stringed instrument most commonly found in paintings and murals of the Buddhist Wheel of Life. In these depictions Indra is often confused and mis-identified as the goddess Sarasvati (see examples).

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Jeff Watt 2-2014 [updated 6-2017, 3-2020]