- Art History
- Religious Context
There are many different Buddhas represented in Buddhist art. Following after the many images of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni the next most common Buddha form to appear in art is likely to be Amitabha (immeasurable light). His popularity is based in the Mahayana Sutra literature of which there are many texts devoted to him. In art depictions Amitabha has two appearances and two names that differentiate those appearances. When referred to as Amitabha he has the appearance of a standard buddha form, although red in colour, wearing the traditional patchwork robes of a monk. In his other appearance he has a different name, Amitayus (immeasureable life), and wears the clothing and jeweled adornments of a peaceful heavenly god according to the classical Indian system of divine aesthetics.
There are two main types of Amitabha:
- Buddha Appearance Amitabha (Nirmanakaya)
- Peaceful Appearance Amitabha (Sambhogakaya)
In the Mahayana Tradition of Buddhism a buddha is described as having three bodies: a form body (nirmanakaya), an apparitional body (sambhogakaya) and an ultimate truth body (dharmakaya). Amitabha and Amitayus are the same person, the first is the form body and the second the apparitional body. The ultimate truth body is without description.
The important iconographic difference between the two, Amitabha and Amitayus, are almost always Amitabha has Buddha Appearance and Amitayus has Bodhisattva Appearance.
Buddha Topics: Buddhas, Who Are They? | Tantric Buddhas | Amitabha Buddha (Masterworks)
Five Buddhas: Charya & Yoga Tantras:
1. Vairochana | 2. Amitabha | 3. Akshobhya | 4. Ratnasambhava | 5. Amoghasiddhi
Database Search - Amitabha/Amitayus: All Images | Painting | Sculpture | Mandala
Jeff Watt 10-2008 [9-2011, 1-2020]