Himalayan Art Resources

Definition: Mahasiddha (Three Types of Appearance)

Mahasiddha Definition Page

Three Types of Appearances that a Mahasiddha Can Take

From the point of view of Himalayan art the appearance of the mahasiddha can be classified into three types (see the Eleven Figurative Appearances):
- Lay Person
- Monastic
- Siddha (Heruka)

- What are Mahasiddhas: Question 1
- What is 'Mahasiddha' in Buddhist Art: Question 2

[1] Lay Person
The Layperson appearance varies according to the occupation such as a farmer will be pictured tilling a field, a king attired in regal garments and seated on a throne, a baker or a bird catcher. Example: Vinapa

[2] Monastic
The monastic type always appears attired in the robes of the Buddhist monastic community. The most famous of these are Nagarjuna, Asanga and others from the group of the Six Ornaments and Two Excellent Ones. Example: Nagarjuna

[3] Siddha (Heruka)
The Tantric Siddha appearance, synonymous with heruka appearance, generally described as dressed in bone ornaments and often depicted in contrived and contorted postures. Example: Virupa

Jeff Watt 4-2006 [updated 5-2017, 10-2020]

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