Thai Buddha Images : Gestures and Postures of the Buddha. Buddha images of different historic periods in Thailand.

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Characteristics and Postures of the Buddha
Sitting Buddhas
Reclining Buddhas
Seven Days of the Buddha

Hand Gestures :
The Six Main Mudras
Dhyana Mudra
Bhumisparsha Mudra
Abhaya Mudra
Vitarka Mudra
Varada Mudra

Historical Periods :
Chiang Saen - Lanna
U Thong

Historical Notes :



Temples in Thailand :
Wat Pho
Wat Benchamabophit  

Buddha Images at :
Pathom Chedi
Wat Benchamabophit   
Introduction to Buddhism in Thailand

The 10 Jatakas (lives of the Buddha) as depicted in Thai mural Temple paintings

Characteristics of Buddha Images - The four main Postures


Buddha images were not made during the first few centuries after the life of Lord Buddha. They first appeared during the 1st and 2nd century A.D. in India. Almost immediately, a set of rules developed on how the Buddha should be depicted. It is worth remembering that a Buddha image is considered to be a hypostatis, endowed with supernatural powers and therefore has to be properly rendered. The Buddha is believed to have 32 major characteristics (and more minor ones).
Examples (that can be seen on Buddha sculptures) :

  • The Buddha is flat footed
  • Long en slender fingers and toes (often with the four fingers of both hands and the five toes of each foot of the same lenght). Sometimes webbed toes and fingers.
  • Between the eyebrows, a tuft of hair
  • Head with a protuberance on top of the skull (unhisa)
  • No furrow between the shoulders
  • Although not strictly listed at a major characteristic, Buddha images also have distended ear-lobes (from wearing heavy rings in early life)
  • Hands in standing position often at knee level
  • Etc.

The Buddha is always in one of four postures deemed suitable : Sitting, Standing, Walking or Reclining Postures. The dress of the Buddha is the monastic robe, draped over both shoulders, or with the right shoulder bare.

Sitting Buddha Image, Subduing Mara, Phra Phuttha Chinnarat
Sitting Buddha Image :
Phra Phuttha Chinnarat at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok.
This Buddha image is generally regarded to be the 'second most' important Buddha image in Thailand.
[The Emerald Buddha at Wat Phrakaew in Bangkok is probably the most important]
A replica of Phra Phuttha Chinnarat is present as the main Buddha image at Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok.
More : the Different Sitting Positions


Standing Buddha, Calming the Ocean, Ayutthaya Style

Standing Buddha image with the Gesture of Calming the Ocean.
Ayutthaya Style. The Buddha is in Royal Attire. (16-17th Century A.D.)
National Museum Prachinburi


Walking Buddha, Sukhothai style

Walking Buddha, with the gesture of Imparting Fearlessness.
The 'walking' Buddha is an innovation in presenting the Buddha, originating during the Sukhothai era.
From Wat Ratchathani, Sukhothai province.
Presently in the cloister at Wat Benchamabophit, Bangkok


Reclining Buddha (at Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom).
More : Different Buddha Gestures while Reclining



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Content by Guido Vanhaleweyk, Bangkok.