Representation of Religion in Asian Buddha Statues

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Artistic concepts are broad. Art may be interpreted either literally or symbolically depending on a person’s insights. It goes a long way in the depiction of reality or imaginary insinuation, be it a person or a place. However, the study of artistic features gives more profound meaning and relates each work of art to the subjects under study for example religion. Eliade Mircea once said that the Buddha’s iconography had been changed to spiritual existence from human nature[1]. Considering the Asian artistic representation of the Buddha in the form of statues, each physical attribute connects directly or indirectly to the ideals of the religion.

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The purpose of the carefully structured statues is for the staunch Buddhists believers to get an understanding of the scriptures, and get enlightened on the whole concept of Buddha. This essay focuses on Asian Statues of the Buddha, and how they symbolize religious doctrines of Buddhism.

The understanding of these Buddhist arts gives people more knowledge regarding Siddhartha and the whole view of Buddhism practices. Primarily, in the survey of the physical attributes of the Buddha statues, the head alongside the facial features have a wide range of meaning. The head contains explicitly various conceptual aspects that significantly represent the operations of the Buddha. One may oversee the deeper meaning since the outlook ordinarily comprises of standard human features like ears and eyes. A close look gives an understanding of the narrations of Siddhartha Gautama and the traditional spiritual aspects. Focussing on the hair, a visual examination points out the standard hair growth. However, deep insight of the hair gives a spiritual revelation of the stages the Buddha underwent before the ultimate enlightenment. Elongated hair correlates to Siddhartha, consequently shorter hair relates to the wealth renunciation on a closer look. Moreover, there are variations in the two hairdos too. For instance, Urna alongside curly hair perceives different meanings as well in art.

The view on the standardized outlook, long hair also called Ushnisha represents Prince Siddhartha’s adolescent times in the palace. This hairstyle which is directly connected to Turban gave a throwback of the stages of the Prince at that period when he was in search of enlightenment[2]. He was still trapped in the old life of the unenlightened. The hair which signified the better part of the life of the price was in correspondence to the Buddha. However, the long hair is not the only symbolism that connects to the state of Buddha. Furthermore, a single curl on the hair symbolizes wisdom on the part of a believer and confirms the Nobel Four Truths alongside the Eight Fold Path. Realization of these doctrines correlates to understanding that is supernatural.

Realization of the enlightenment gives a lesson to Buddhist believers on the crucial aspects of life that leads to Nirvana. Luxury is not the actual path to the spiritual life. A better understanding of this concept shows in the facial accessories of the face of Buddha. There is a bindu[3] located on the forehead of the statues as well as ears that are elongated; these features give an explicit representation of the qualities portrayed by Buddha. Precisely, the Bindu is situated in the middle of the forehead for a specific reason. It provides a demonstration of an imaginable being. Bindu addition on the face of the statues deliberately indicates unfathomable perspective. This teardrop feature in the front of the statues adds a significant role in the spiritual understanding of Buddhism.

The unnaturally long ears have significance to the spiritual understanding of Buddhist religion as well. For instance, the elongated ears symbolize how to nobble the Buddha was before making vows on finding the enlightenment pathway[4]. Moreover, costumes in the form of earrings were worn to stretch out the lobes giving some significance[5].

The exaggerated ears of the statues of the Buddha alongside the lobe that hangs conspicuously provide a representation of human life. People may try to transform themselves into other beings, for example, compassionate ones but will always remain in ties with who they were in the past. Moreover, during the roadway to Nirvana, the scriptures of the Buddhists suggest that some traits of the previous life may not be sufficiently changed, but those qualities will define no one.

The depiction of the Buddha with the protruded earlobes also signifies a significant transformation in a person’s life. The great prince was living a life of darkness and excessively undefined duties. However, after knowing his massive commitment to enlightenment, he changes into a better being even though the features remain intact as a reminder of the previous life. When Buddhist believers see these sculptures, the get motivated to change their wrong ways to a spiritual experience that may lead them to Nirvana[6].

In the Asian statues signifying the Buddha, the hands symbolize a great spiritual understanding explicitly. They represent lots of values. For instance,

usage of the Mudras gives a perception of the Buddha and his way of life. However, there is diversity in the performance responsibility of the hands. Six forms of artistic productions correlate with the Buddha. There is a specific one called Dhyana-mudra which symbolizes yoga activities that go on in Buddhism. The positioning of the arms is a representation of how Siddhartha used to meditate. However, even up to date yogis use this posture when performing their activities.

Additionally, there is the understanding of the Buddha of the orator. The standing and seated sculptures both have significant meanings. These statues give knowledge on the missions performed; there is one that stayed glued on earth for the rest to achieve enlightenment. All in all, these Buddha arts of Asia need a third eye to make a close contextual analysis on them. One cannot make assumptions that they represent the standard human features.


  1. Anderson, April Marie. “Fluxus Artists and Their Works: Context, Religious, and Spiritual Influences.” Ph.D. diss., Azusa Pacific University, 2017.
  2. Singh, Anand Shanker. “A Historical and Cultural Study of Buddhist Art in Early South-East Asia.” International Journal of Social Science and Humanity 6, no. 7 (2016): 561.
  3. Zhou, Shangyi, and Stanley D. Brunn. “The Religious Exhibition at the Capital Museum in Beijing: What It Tells Us and Does Not Tell Us.” In The Changing World
  4. Religion Map, pp. 2563-2580. Springer, Dordrecht, 2015.
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Representation of Religion in Asian Buddha statues. (2019, Mar 02). Retrieved from