The Figure Of The Buddha Essay

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The figure of the Buddha is one that is relatively well recognized throughout the world today. One may wonder why and how people are able to so quickly identify this religious icon in art such as sculpture. With a religion that spread almost entirely throughout the continent of Asia, it is surprising to find that although there are many creative variants, Buddhist sculpture still preserves many key iconographic features. The most fundamental characteristics of Buddhist sculpture are listed in the thirty-two Lakshanas, or “rules” for depicting the Buddha. In addition, Buddhist portraits also consistently make use of hand gestures, or mudras, and various seated positions, also called the asanas. It can be noted that these serve more than just the purpose of mere aesthetic design, but indeed they have many contextual meanings in the story of Buddhism. Iconography, or the use of visual images and symbols in artwork, is fundamental in understanding the religious context of sculpture. In this paper I will be discussing notable iconographic features displayed in works similar to the Seated Buddha exhibited in the University of Colorado, Boulder Art Museum and how these features are connected to the larger Buddhist practice as a whole.
In the third century BCE, Buddhist art emerged due to the patronage by King Ashoka, the founder of the Mauryan Dynasty. In an effort to spread this new religion, the emperor created grand stone pillars and other shrines inscribed with teachings from

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