Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Buddha (Mahayana)

Buddha Iconography

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Mahayana Buddhas Description
- Akshobhya
- Amitabha/Amitayus
- Maitreya
- Medicine Buddha
- Thirty-five Confession Buddhas
- Vairochana
- Mahayana Buddhism
- Buddha Names Glossary
- Buddha Number Sets
- Confusions
- Others...

The Mahayana Buddhas are best understood through knowing the Buddha Number Sets:
- Three, Buddhas of the Three Times
- Seven Buddhas of this Age
- Eight Medicine Buddhas
- Ten: Buddhas of the Ten Directions
- Thirty-five Buddhas of Confession
- 1000 Buddhas of a Buddhist Eon
- Others...

Shakyamuni Buddha is the singular buddha of Foundational Buddhism (Theravada). In Mahayana Buddhism a number of additional characters are introduced. The bodhisattva Maitreya is introduced as the current bodhisattva but anointed to be the buddha of the future after the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. Maitreya is therefore depicted in two ways, as a bodhisattva or as a buddha.

All of the Mahayana Buddhas listed above have Buddha Appearance in terms of body and limbs. The body colours, hand gestures, hand attributes and variation in seated posture can be different between figures.

Amitabha Buddha, immeasurable light, is described in two Mahayana sutra texts. Akshobhya Buddha, the unshakable one, is introduced in the final chapters of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa sutra. Bhaishajyaguru, Medicine Buddha, is described in his own sutra text. The Thirty-five Confession Buddhas are each named and described in a sutra unique to the bodhisattva vows of Mahayana Buddhism.

Jeff Watt 3-2020

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