Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Eight Siddhas (Figurative Appearance List)

Eight Siddhas Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description
- Eleven Figurative Forms
- Identifiable Mahasiddhas
- Source literature
- Confusions: Sakya, Kagyu, Jonang
- Others...

List of the most common Siddhas making up the sets of eight:
- Virupa: Siddha Appearance
- Luipa: Siddha Appearance
- Saraha: Lay Figure Appearance
- Indrabhuti: King Appearance
- Nagarjuna: Monastic Appearance
- Padmavajra: Lay Figure or Siddha Appearance
- Ghantapa: Siddha Appearance
- Dombi Heruka: Siddha Appearance
- Kukkuripa Lay Figure or Siddha Appearance
- Lawapa: Monastic or Lay Figure Appearance

- Eight Siddhas
- Eight Siddhas, Part 2
- Kukkuripa
- Lawapa, The Blanket Siddha

There are ten siddhas that make up the most popular sets of Eight Siddhas. Virupa is common with the Sakya and Jonang traditions. Luipa is favoured by the various Kagyu traditions. In the 18th century Situ Panchen Chokyi Jungne replaced Luipa with Lawapa for his Palpung artistic compositions of the Eight Siddhas. The various Sakya and derivative traditions do not include Lawapa in the set of eight.

In the list of the Eleven Figurative Forms five are for human figures and the remainder of the figures listed are for the different types of deity forms. The five are: Elders, Kings, Layperson, Monastic, and Siddha appearance. There are no Elders (sthavira/arhat) in any of the systems of mahasiddhas. The figurative form defines the persons appearance and occupation, role or caste in life as described in their specific biography.

King Appearance:
In the Eight Siddha system there is a single King - Indrabhuti. There are a number of kings represented in the larger set of Eighty-four Mahasiddhas.

Lay Figure Appearance:
Lay figures are represented by Saraha the brahmin, Padmavajra, Kukkuripa and sometimes by Lawapa who is often depicted wearing a single blanket. The majority of mahasiddhas in the set of the eighty-four are predominantly in lay figure appearance.

Monastic Appearance:
Nagarjuna is the most famous with monastic appearance. Lawapa is sometimes depicted in monastic attire.

Siddha Appearance:
Siddha figures are represented by Virupa, Luipa, Ghantapa, and Dombi Heruka. Sometimes Padmavajra and Kukkuripa are depicted in siddha appearance. Only a few mahasiddhas from the set of Eighty-four and the set of Eight Siddhas are typically depicted in siddha appearance based on descriptions and narratives from their life stories (hagiographies). Virupa, Dombi Heruka and Ghantapa belong to this group. Depending on painting tradition and regional styles iconography is interpreted more broadly with all lay figures being depicted in siddha appearance. This generous use of siddha appearance is more common in the New Menri tradition of painting from the 18th century to the present.

Jeff Watt 11-2021

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