statues are made of cast bronze, gilded with gold leaf
and gold powder, although many ancient statues were made
of cast iron or wood.
sizes, positions and gestures of statuary at any given
temple depend on a number of factors. Affluence, historical
period and sect all play a role in choosing a statue.
The most common Buddhas to be found are:
the historical Buddha usually depicted with a bare
shoulder and hands in his lap or one touching the
the cosmic Buddha, usually depicted holding his index
the Buddha of light and of the Western Paradise -
the Future Buddha, usually in a posture of reflection:
the Laughing Buddha of the Chinese.
the Medicine Buddha, always white, usually holds a
bowl for medicine.
Bodhisattva statues are of various forms,
next to Amitabha:
the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
the Bodhisattva of Power, usually carries a lotus.
next to Sakyamuni:
the Bodhisattva of Practice, usually carries a lotus.
the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, usually rides a lion when
Bodhisattvas, who are often housed separately, are
Avalokitesvara and Ksitigarbha. A special and very
popular form of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of
Compassion, is the one with a thousand hands. Each
hand has an eye so that it can see how to help all
beings. Another important Bodhisattva is Ksitigarbha.
He usually has green hair and waits to help all tormented
people. Beside Ksitigarbha, placed along the walls
of the shrine, there are the colourfully dressed judges
of the Hells.
to mythology, these judges wait to determine your fate
after death. Sometimes there is a shrine for the enlightened
disciples of the Buddha. These look like small Buddhas
and are often white.