EASILY CONFUSED BUDDHIST REPRESENTATIONS are images or statues that
may resemble the mortal, historical Buddha known as Siddhārtha
Gautama , Śākyamuni, or
Tathāgata (or others), but were actually
created to represent other individuals.
Depictions could be Gautama, or a bodhisattva, guardian, protector,
disciple, or saint. Clues to a figure's identity are found in, for
example, the physical characteristics of the Buddha , the objects the
figure is holding, its mudra (hand gesture), and asana (sitting or
standing position of the body). There may be an image in the figure's
crown , or the figure could be holding a book, thunderbolt, vase,
jewel, or lotus flower or stem.
Mandalas created for Japanese Shingon
Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism
can contain hundreds of different figures that may need interpretation
. In his paper on the mudrās of bodhisattvas , Carl B. Becker,
Kyoto University professor, describes the situation:
When the uninitiated observer first confronts the Buddhist pantheon ,
his reaction may border on bewilderment or dismay. Far from the
ascetic agnosticism taught by Gautama, Buddha-like deities are
available to answer every material or spiritual need. They wear regal
robes or deerskins; they sit, stand, or fly; they have their own
sūtras, temples, and guardians....
* 1 Dhyani Buddhas
* 2 Bodhisattvas
* 3 Gautama
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 Notes
* 7 External links
Five Dhyani Buddhas
Representations of the five Dhyani Buddhas , who are abstract aspects
Buddhahood rather than Buddhas or gods, have elaborate differences.
Each must face in a different direction (north, south, east, west, or
center), and, when painted, each is a different color (blue, yellow,
red, green, or white). Each has a different mudrā and symbol;
embodies a different aspect, type of evil, and cosmic element; has a
different consort and spiritual son, as well as different animal
vehicles (elephant, lion, peacock, harpys or garuda , or dragon).
Vairocana , the first Dhyani Buddha, embodying sovereignty and
occupying the center, is a special case (in any case, he is distinct
from Gautama and not normally confused with him). He was one of the
Buddhas of Bamiyan blown up by the
China mourned and
tried to replace with the world\'s tallest statue , named Spring
Temple Buddha . Japanese Pure Land Buddhists think that
the other Dhyani Buddhas are manifestations of
Amitābha , but
Japanese Shingon Buddhists think that
Amitābha and the other Dhyani
Buddhas are manifestations of Vairocana.
Akshobhya , the second Dhyani Buddha who embodies steadfastness and
faces east, and Gautama are indistinguishable. Both can be seated in
the Vajraparyanka (also known as Bhūmisparśa) pose, with the right
hand on the right knee, palm turned inwardly, and middle finger
touching the ground.
Amitābha (Japanese: Amida) is the most
ancient Dhyani Buddha, embodying light and facing west, and is the
central figure in Pure Land Buddhism. A statue of Amitābha, when
seated, has a samadhi mudrā with both palms face up, on top of each
other, in his lap.
Five Dhyani Buddhas , unknown provenance
Spring Temple Buddha
Spring Temple Buddha picturing
Vairocana , in Lushan County, Henan,
China , is the world's tallest statue.
Tibet , 19th century,
Honolulu Museum of Art
Honolulu Museum of Art
The Great Statue of Buddha
Amitabha in Kamakura ,
Budai , and
Budai (in Chinese, or Hotei in Japanese) is often confused with
Gautama or is thought to have originated Buddhism. He is an
incarnation of the bodhisattva and future Buddha,
Maitreya , who will
come to Earth 4,000 years after Gautama disappears. His name means
"Cloth Sack" for the bag of sweets he carries, eats and gives to
children. Admired for his happiness and contentment, he is known in
Chinese as "The Laughing Buddha" and sometimes in English as "The Fat
Avalokiteśvara , the bodhisattva of compassion, might be
mistaken for Gautama. He is incarnated in the
Dalai Lama , who is a
tulku and the most revered Tibetan Buddhist monk.
Maitreya incarnated as Budai, The Laughing Buddha , in the Feilai
Avalokiteśvara on an altar in
North Gyeongsang Province
North Gyeongsang Province ,
Nepal , 14th century
Gautama might have representations in a hundred different attitudes
or positions, of which four follow.
Gautama, with his hands in the dharmachakra or teaching mudrā .
Sarnath Museum ,
Standing Buddha , 1st–2nd century CE,
Tokyo National Museum
Sitting Buddha in the Vajraparyanka (Bhūmisparśa) position, unknown
Parinirvana . Statue excavated at the
Mahaparinirvana Temple in
Uttar Pradesh ,
* Iconography of
Gautama Buddha in Laos and Thailand
* Hawkins, Bradley K. (1999). The Pocket Idiot's Guide: Buddhism.
Laurence King (Penguin, Alpha). ISBN 0-02-864459-X .
* Sakya, Jnan Bahadur (compiler) (2002) . Short Description of Gods,
Goddesses and Ritual Objects of
Buddhism and Hinduism in
ed.). Handicraft Association of Nepal. ISBN 99933-37-33-1 .
* Sjoquist, Douglas P. (Winter 1999). "Identifying Buddhist Images
in Japanese Painting and Sculpture". Education About Asia. Association
for Asian Studies. 4 (3).
* ^ A B Sjoquist
* ^ Sakya, p. 34.
* ^ Sakya, various.
* ^ "Exploring the Mandala". Cornell University Program of Computer
Graphics. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
* ^ Becker, Carl B. (December 1993). "Hands of the
Standardization of Mudrās in Japanese Buddhist Sculpture Prior to
A.D. 1200". East and West. Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente
. 43 (1/4): 199–232.
* ^ Sakya, pp. 35, 76.
* ^ A B C D Sakya, p. 76.
* ^ "
China enters biggest Buddhist statue race". BBC News.
Retrieved March 3, 2012.
* ^ Getty, Alice (1914). The gods of northern Buddhism: their
history, iconography and progressive evolution through the northern
Buddhist countries. Oxford Clarendon Press via Internet Archive. p. 3.
* ^ "The Lotus
Sutra focus on Śākyamuni also fits the main Buddha
figure in Zen, rather than the Buddhas Amida or
Vairocana venerated in
the contemporary Pure Land and Esoteric (and Kegon) movements." in
Taigen Dan Leighton (2005). "Dōgen's Appropriation of Lotus Sutra
Ground and Space". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Nanzan
University. 32 (1): 87.
JSTOR 30233778 . doi
* ^ "One of the two wives of Songtsen Gampo, she brought a large
image of either Shakyamuni or
Akshobhya Buddha (they are visually
indistinguishable)..." in "Glossary (Balza, Balmoza)" (PDF). The
Huntington Archive, Ohio State University. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
* ^ Sakya, p. 30.
* ^ Similarities with