Himalayan Art Resources

Hindu Deity: Shiva Iconography (Buddhist)

Shiva Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description
- Ten Worldly Gods
- Karandavyuha Sutra
- Secondary Figure List
- Ishana
- Mahadeva (Mindrolling Tradition)
- Trampled underfoot by Buddhist Deities
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Shiva in Buddhist Art

Three Topics:
- Minor Figures
- Meditational Deity
- Appropriation

Shiva has a role as a minor figure in Buddhist narrative art and as a retinue figure within large mandalas that include the common Hindu gods, planets and mansions. A painted example of the Svarodaya manuscript in the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art depicts at the top left of the unique folio composition a depiction of Shiva and Parvati. In the fourth classification of tantra, Yoganiruttara, Shiva is sometimes found under the feet of such deities as Hevajra and Kalachakra.

Meditational deity forms of Shiva are generally found in the 'Revealed Treasure' tradition of the Nyingmapa with examples such as Lha Chenpo which means 'great god' (Mahadeva). Other forms of Shiva, not many, can be found described in ritual literature, related to magic and worldly activities, but rarely seen in art.

Examples of deities that have appropriated the iconography or characteristics of shiva are Nilakanta Lokeshvara, Simhanada Lokeshvara, and Mahakala.

Jeff Watt 3-2020 [updated 1-2021]

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