Buddhist Iconography

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Final Research Paper: Buddhist Iconography
Throughout the years Buddhist iconography has been apparent in many cultures and societies. Over time it has changed and morphed in each location to conform their certain ideology. Each culture looks toward different bodhisattva and have various elements in their iconography that they believe, represent the Buddha his teachings. This essay will explore the beginning of Buddhist iconography, Buddhist symbols and their meanings, how the different locations picture Buddhist iconography, the similarities between each cultures iconography, and how Buddhist iconography is today.
Buddhism has been a prominent religion in many parts of the world since the fifth century B.C. The man behind its creation was
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Different locations often have many of the same symbols. In Thailand, Laos and Japan, hand gestures, The Buddha’s ears, the five qualities of enjoyment and the ever controversial swastika are all important symbols in Buddhist Iconography. There are six different hand signals related with the Buddha. These gestures include the touching of the earth, absence of fear and meditation. When the Buddha touches the earth it symbolizes the release of worldly desires. When his hands are in meditation they lie in his lap with both palms turned up, deep meditation was crucial for enlightenment, this is one of the most common ways that his hands are seen in paintings and sculptures. Another common way that the Buddha’s hands are shown is the position that symbolizes the absence of fear. In this position both arms are bent and his palms are faced forward, when the right hand alone is raised it symbolizes the calming of animals. The five qualities of enjoyment are reflection represented by a mirror, sound represented by a lute, smell symbolized by an incense burner, taste shown by a fruit, and lastly touch which is represented by silk. The last symbol discussed in this essay is the swastika. In other religions it had taken on a dark symbolism and reminds many of the horrific acts toward the Jewish religion. In Buddhism, the swastika stands for wealth, plurality, long life and plurality. Each image of the Buddha and …show more content…
In this essay, the three locations that have been explored for their differences are Japan, Thailand, and Loas therefore these three locations will also be explored for their similarities. In each of these places whether in sculpture or in paint, the Buddha is shown as a peaceful enlightened being. The enlightened one always has his hands in a specific position that have a meaning all their own. A third eye is sometimes seen which stands for the wise thinking of the Buddha (Watt). Aside from images of him, other types of iconography are mound structures known as stupas. These monuments have been around since the start of the Buddhist religion. Along with being a symbolic monument, these mounds are often reliquaries for Buddhist teachers remains (The Buddhas

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