Types of Buddha Statues and Their Meaning

Type of Budhha statue


Buddha’s statues have been a topic of curiosity for many Buddhists and non-Buddhists as they have many different styles, positions, and gestures. Such statues have their meaning and significance. Even though there are  different types of Buddha statues with different meanings, all statues represent peace and happiness. After the hundred years of Buddha’s death, all of these types of Buddha statues have been sculptures in his remembrance.

The Buddha’s statue indicates important events like teaching and travels in the Buddha’s past life or lives. The hand gesture of Buddha represents mudras which shows meditation, enlightenment, and wisdom. Similarly, there are other gestures and positions which have a meaning behind them. Lets, take a closer look at the different statues and the meaning behind them.

Blessing Buddha

Blessing Buddha Statue

Blessing Buddha statue has a sitting position where the right hand is raised and faced outwards away from the body. The raised right hand represents the shield that will help you to overcome fear. Also, the statue means to give courage and protection from fear, delusion, and anger.

The other particular Blessing Buddha has either a standing or sitting position where the left hand is extended upward, and the palm lies up in the lap. Some statues may have a bowl carrying in the left hand. The statue’s position, Abhaya Mudra, represents the important incident or event in Buddha’s life.

Teaching Buddha

Teaching Buddha Statue

Teaching Buddha statue has a sitting position where the right hand is held at chest level with the tip of thumb and index fingers forming a circle. The left hand is turned to palm out, whereas the right hand is turned palm in. The statue represents wisdom, understanding, and fulfilling destiny. Also, it represents the spinning of the “Wheel of Dharma” since Buddha has shared Dharma throughout his sentient life.

The statue’s position represents Buddha’s important event where the Buddha gave the first sermon after reaching Enlightenment. This sermon was given to a small group of disciples who had previously scorned the Buddha. Dharmachakra Mudra is a statue of Teaching Budhha, which is good for studying and wants to learn more about spirituality. The word Dharma Chakra means “putting the cosmic law of righteousness in order” or “turning the wheel of cosmic righteousness,” where Dharma means “the way of righteousness” and Chakra means “universe” or “cosmos.”

Meditation Buddha

Meditation Buddha statue is one of those types of Buddha statue  where both hands are in the lap, face-up, and legs are crossed either in a double lotus pose or a single lotus pose. Some particular statues have an alms bowl in the lap. This pose is also known as the Amitabha Budhha, meaning “Boundless Light,” shaped like a triangle that indicates stability and symbolizes the unity of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In this pose, the Buddha’s eyes are halfway closed or fully closed as the statue represents focused concentration.

The Buddha statue’s meaning of Dhyana Mudra is to guide people to become calm and peaceful. This statue is good for people looking for peace and calm in their lives and who want to improve their meditation skills. It’s a good idea to set this statue into your room to make a serenity room where you like to relax and calm. Some of the largest Buddha statues, like the Great Kamakura Buddha Statue which is located at Kotokuin Temple, Japan, and Korea are in Meditation pose.

Earth Touching Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha Statue

Earth Touching Buddha statue has a sitting position where both legs are crossed, the left hand in the lap and the right hand pointing to the ground where the palm is facing inward towards the Buddha. The middle finger can be seen slightly touching the ground. It is the most common pose you will find in Thai temples, also known as Calling the Earth to Witness which indicates the moment of enlightenment for Buddha. The Akshobhya Buddha uses this Bhumisparsha Mudra.

In the six years enlightenment verse, Buddha faced the demon of illusion, Mara who made it difficult to reach enlightenment. But Buddha meditated all night under the Bodhi tree and overcame the fear. Buddha called the Earth Goddess to witness that he had achieved enlightenment to be shared with the rest of the world. After witnessing that, the Earth Goddess wrung her hair which released floodwaters that swept away the Demon Mara.

Reclining Buddha

Sleeping/Reclining Buddha Statue

The Reclining Buddha is one of the types of Buddha statues has a lying-down position on the right side facing west where his head is held by his right hand, representing the moment of his Mahaparinirvana. It is one of the iconic statues in Buddhism as it shows the historical Shakyamuni Buddha‘s period of illness. The smiling expression of reclining Buddha represents the compassion and calmness that comes with enlightenment. The reclining statue is taken as enlightenment motivation, an object of encouragement, and takes suffering during rebirth.

This statue shows the last moment of Buddha dying on earth before entering Nirvana. It is said that an alms giver accidentally gave Buddha pork which led him to sudden death. The Buddha was able to escape the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth due to the enlightenment that he gained in his lifetime. This statue can be seen at Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand as well as in many temples of Southeast Asia. This statue has great importance in Buddhism as it represents the entering of Buddha in the state of Paranirvana.

Laughing Buddha

Laughing Budhha is one of the most widely recognizable types of Buddha  statues in western culture. It is a Chinese monk who was a Buddhist sermon and is well known for having a bag full of gifts which he brought for the children who learn dharma. The statue shows the happy and large belly Buddha in his later years, which is known for bringing good luck, happiness, and prosperity in people’s lives. Laughing Buddha is also known as Fat Buddha or Buddha who lived during the 10th century.

The laughing Budhha is like a Santa Claus who is undoubtedly always happy and considered to get good luck when you rub his belly. Ho Tai has many forms, either a standing or sitting position where his arms are over his head reaching towards the sky supporting a real or imaginary Ru-Yi pot, holding a sack over his shoulders, or just sitting with his stomach out waiting for a good rub. The Laughing Buddha shows the person as someone who has a good manner and loving character.

Medicine Buddha

Medicine Buddha Statue

Medicine Buddha statue has a sitting position where the right hand is faced down, fingers are pointed towards the ground, palm facing out, and a bowl of herbs resting in the left hand upon the lap. The right hand facing outwards indicates the blessing of Buddha to mankind which is a common hand gesture among Hindu and Buddhist statues.

The Medicine Buddha delivers medicinal knowledge and is good for someone who is seeking good health. In most of the paintings, Medicine Buddha is found to have blue skin. The statue is commonly found in the Buddhist temples of Nepal and Tibet.

Walking Buddha

Walking Buddha, also known as Phra LeeLaa in Thai, has a standing position where the right hand is raised, facing outward, and the left hand swings beside the body with the left foot behind. Walking Buddha’s right hand represents a gesture of reassurance. The statue has a graceful appearance and indicates grace, internal beauty, and inner peace. This statue is a portrait of Buddha’s return to earth after delivering a sermon in Heaven.

Although Buddha has reached nirvana, some statues show Buddha wearing a shoe. The shoe indicates that the journey towards enlightenment has begun. To reach enlightenment, He needs to remove his earthly desires, which prevent him from wearing the shoes. It is said that when Buddha was returning to earth, he was accompanied by Lord Indra and Lord Brahma.

Contemplation Buddha

Contemplation Buddha has a standing position where both arms are against the chest, the palms of both hands are facing in with the right arm on the outside of the left arm. The statue represents silent determination, tolerance, and patient understanding. This statue is for someone who is looking to increase spiritual confidence and wants to promote humility.

Fasting Buddha

Fasting Shakyamuni Buddha Statue

The Fasting Buddha statue represents the bodily state of Shakyamuni Buddha before attaining enlightenment. He underwent a very long fast rendering him very weak and thin.