What Are the Different Types of Buddha Sculptures?
The appearance of these statues vary greatly depending on where they are found, what time period they were made, and what culture produced them. Many people believe that there is no one meaning for this symbol because it has so many different meanings to different cultures all around the world.
Buddha Statue Meaning
In feng shui, different types of Buddha statues are used to attract chi energy and redirect it throughout your home, office, and garden space. You have many choices of Buddha statue styles and poses. However, before you go shopping, it helps to understand the meaning and symbolism of each statue in relation to the area you desire to place it.
Buddha Sculptures FAQs
What kind of sculpture is Buddha?
Today, the most sought-after Buddhist sculptures are usually gilt-bronzes, with certain time periods particularly attractive to the market.
What type of Buddha statue is good for home?
Placing a reclining Buddha towards the right, facing the west can bring peace and harmony to your home. Place it on a clean table or shelf to symbolize your inner beliefs and state of mind. People will automatically witness the serene statue, feel at ease, and consider you a peaceful person.
Why are there different types of Buddha statues?
Buddha statues are more than a physical depiction of Buddha, they all have meaning. Each pose, posture, expression and hand gesture is significant to the life of Buddha. There are over 100 different poses that illustrate the life of Buddha, also called an asana or attitude, and hand gestures are referred to as a Mudra.
Is having a Buddha statue disrespectful?
Besides being totally disrespectful, it's bad luck to place Buddha in a bathroom. Also the statue should never face one. Dust accumulating on or around the statue is disrespectful. It will bring filth into your own life.
Does Buddha have money?
Known to bring happiness, prosperity and good fortune, the Buddha is a part of every home, in the form of paintings and statues, even today. If you are looking for an ideal Feng Shui tool to attract wealth and abundance for your family, there are some special Buddha statues you can choose for your house.
Different Types of Buddha Statues
Before you make your final Buddha statue selection, consider the different types of Buddha statues available. Each has a different meaning and placement within your home, office, or garden.
Meditation Buddha Statue Meaning
The Meditation Buddha is known as Amitabha, Buddha of Boundless Light. The statue depicts
The Buddha in a sitting position known as a double or single lotus pose. Both hands are resting in his lap in the meditative position called the cosmic mudra. The overall profile of this pose creates a triangle shape that is meant to represent stability.
Other specific features of this pose include:
- The Buddha's eyes are either closed or half-way closed to depict his meditative state.
- The Buddha's hands overlap each other with his right hand resting on top of the fingers of his left hand with both palms facing up.
- The thumb tips touch each other to form an oval, symbolizing the turning of one's attention inward.
The Meditation Buddha statue is a popular pose for a Buddhist home altar. The statue should face the east direction since the Buddha meditated on the sun rising during his search for enlightenment.
You can also place the Meditation Buddha statue in a place you find peaceful and calming.
Laughing Buddha is a robust, bald man with a pot belly. The model for this Buddha was a jolly Buddhist monk, Hotei, from around the late tenth century AD.
Unlike some Buddha statues, the Laughing Buddha has various poses and meanings, depending on the sector and facing direction you place him. The overall meaning of the Laughing Buddha is one of abundance and good luck.
- The standing Laughing Buddha meaning is one of welcoming and celebrating great wealth and happiness.
- The traveling Laughing Buddha meaning is one of prosperity and wealth.
- The sitting Laughing Buddha meaning is one of balance and maintaining balance in all aspects of life.
Standing Laughing Buddha Statue
In Western culture, the Laughing Buddha statue is probably the most widely recognizable one that is used.
It's also known as the good luck, prosperity, or abundance Buddha. It depicts Buddha in his later years as happy and with a large belly from an abundant lifetime. He'll either be in a sitting position or standing with his hands over his head supporting a real or imaginary Ru-Yi pot (vessel or bowl of plenty).
This statue is affectionately dubbed Happy. It's tradition to rub his belly to ensure even greater luck is bestowed upon you.
Place this statue in your personal wealth corner or southeast sector of your home. It's great for an office on the north wall facing all who enter.
Laughing Buddha With Children
The laughing Buddha is depicted with children, often five little ones, either sitting by his feet or climbing all over the jolly Buddha.
The meaning of the Laughing Buddha with children is one of prosperity for your family, especially your children. The sitting Buddha meaning is one of keeping life and priorities in balance.
You will place the Laughing Buddha with Children in the west sector (descendants' luck) of your home.
If you place it in a garden, you want the Buddha statue to face your home.
Laughing Buddha With Beads or Wealth Ball
The Laughing Buddha with beads or wealth ball meaning is one of meditation with the beads as a symbol of pearls of wisdom.
The meaning of the wealth ball depiction is a sign of not only wealth, but prosperity.
The Laughing Buddha with beads can be placed in the northeast sector (education luck).
The Laughing Buddha statue with a wealth ball or wealth balls should be set in the southeast sector (wealth luck). If you know your Sheng Chi (wealth) direction based on your Kua number, you can place this statue so it is facing your Sheng Chi direction.
Laughing Buddha Holding Bowl Meaning
The Laughing Buddha with a bowl is a true depiction of the life of a monk who depends on the alms of food each day.
The Buddhist monks walk down the streets with their sacrifice bowls, so the faithful can fill them with daily rations.
This daily display signifies the monks' oath of rejecting material possessions in their mission to attain enlightenment. Some statues feature an orange in the bowl or substitute the bowl with an ingot.
The ideal placement for this Buddha is your meditation room.
In lieu of such a room, you can place the Laughing Buddha with a bowl in a reading niche or other area where you spend time in contemplation or prayer.
Laughing Buddha With Fan
The Laughing Buddha with a fan statue is another symbol of happiness. Many Buddhists believe that waving a fan in front of the Buddha statue will banish their troubles.
The Buddha statue reminds you to enjoy life and your good fortune.
If the Buddha is also holding a Wu Lou (gourd) of enlightenment suspended from a stick while holding a fan in his other hand and wears a prayer bead necklace.
You can place the Laughing Buddha with a fan in your home office or business office. This Buddha statue placement eliminates your competition and fans away anyone with ill intentions toward you.
The Laughing Buddha statue with the fan and Wu Lou can be placed in the northeast sector (education luck) or southwest sector (love and relationship luck).
Traveling Laughing Buddha Statue
The Laughing Buddha with a cotton-sack over one shoulder or tied to the end of a stick often depicts the monk holding a wealth ball in his other hand.
Some statues feature the Laughing Buddha carrying a fan in one hand.
The sack represents a bag filled with blessings, with the fan offering protection in your travels.
The Traveling Laughing Buddha statue is an excellent choice if you travel for work. You can place this statue in your office in the north sector to bring you good luck in your work-related travels with business success and wealth gains.
Blessing Buddha and Protection Buddha Statue Meaning
The Blessing Buddha and Protection Buddha statue are the same pose, but are used for different reasons in feng shui. The pose depicts Buddha bestowing blessings with his upper hand gesture of the right hand palm facing out. This hand gesture is also used to dispel fear and is commonly viewed as a gesture of a shield.
This is known as the mudra, Abhayamudra or gesture of fearlessness. The pose is meant to give a feeling of reassurance and divine protection.
The other hand rests in the Buddha's lap, open and facing upward as a gesture of compassion. Some depictions feature the other hand extended out in a gesture of comfort.
Good areas for placing the Blessing Buddha or Protection Buddha statue include your home office and living room.
You can apply this as a cure for any area inside or outside your home that suffers from weak or afflicted chi.
This is an especially good for any area suffering from a negative flying star placement, such as #2 black star of illness and death, #5 yellow star, and #7 injuries and violence.
You can place either of these Buddhas in any sector where you need blessings or protection.
Teaching Buddha Pose Meaning
The Teaching Buddha symbolizes wisdom, understanding, and fulfilling your destiny. Known as Dharma Chakra Buddha, the Teaching Buddha statue is in a sitting or standing position.
The most popular is the sitting pose, since this is the position the Buddha assumed when teaching. This is an important period in the Buddha's life.
It symbolizes his sharing of the knowledge he gained during his enlightenment in the deer park, Sarnath, located in Uttar Pradesh, India. In the statue pose, Buddha shares this knowledge with his disciples.
Since the Buddha's teachings came from his heart, both hands are positioned in front of his chest.
The index fingers and thumbs touch to form a circle to represent his teaching of the Wheel of Dharma (union of wisdom and method). The other three fingers of both hands always remain extended.
Most statue hand gestures include:
- Right hand palm turned inwards, left hand palm turned up to receive knowledge
- Left hand often positioned in Buddha's lap, palm up
- Both handheld in front with thumbs and forefingers touching
You should place the Teaching Buddha statue in the northeast (education) sector of both inside your home or office and your garden.
This is an ideal Buddha statue for a student, especially if you are focused on your spiritual learning and growth.
Alternate Buddha Teaching Statue Touching Ring Finger Meaning
Some Teaching Buddha statues depict the thumb touching the ring finger instead of the forefinger. This changes the meaning to one of good fortune.
This style can be placed in the north sector (career) or southeast sector (wealth).
Long Life Buddha Statue Pose
This Buddha sits or sometimes stands with the bag of blessings by his side or may hold the bag in his lap. In one hand, he cradles a wealth ball raised in front of him and a Ru-Yi pot in his other hand.
In feng shui, the east sector (health) is the ideal placement for the Long Life Buddha statue.
Place in your home or garden in the west (children, descendants) or southeast (wealth) sector. You can also place it in your office in any of these directions.
Happy Home Buddha Statue Pose Meaning
The seated Happy Home Buddha holds a parasol over his shoulder. The white parasol or umbrella is said to be a goddess.
The legend tells how she came out of Buddha's forehead. She is a protector against many of life's challenges, disease and various negative threats.
You can place the Happy Home Buddha statue in the southwest sector (love and relationships) to protect your marriage and/or relationship.
You can also place the statue in other sectors you wish to imbue with happiness and protect from negativity.
Earth Buddha Statue Pose Meaning
Also known as the Calling Earth to Witness, the Earth Buddha sits on the ground with his right hand extended, so his fingers point to the earth beneath him.
This statue honors the time when The Buddha was repeatedly tempted by the demon, Mara, but resisted and finally reached enlightenment.
You can place the Earth Buddha Statue in any sector that you're being tempted to reject.
If you're having difficulty in a relationship, place it in the southwest sector to bolster your resolve and commitment. If you're becoming complacent at work, put this in the north sector (career) to strengthen your dedication to your job.
Reclining Buddha Statue Meaning
Buddha awaits his transition from this life to death, which is viewed as a mere transition into a different state of being. If you're in any type of transition period, this is a good choice for inside your home or garden.
You want to place the Reclining Buddha statue in the sector that represents the area of your transition. For example, you can place the statue in the north sector of home or office if you're changing jobs.
If a relationship has ended, place the statue in the southwest sector to attract a new love interest. If you're a new empty nester, place the statue in the west sector to ease this life-changing transition.
Medicine Buddha Statue Meaning
The Medicine Buddha is depicted in paintings having blue skin, but whether shown in statue or painted form, the right hand is held facing downward with fingers extended toward the ground, palm facing outward toward the viewer, a bowl of herbs rests in the left hand upon the lap.
It is believed by the Tibetans that the Buddha was responsible for delivering the knowledge of medicine to the people of the world, and in fact the right hand facing outward signifies "granting a boon" (meaning, giving a blessing) to mankind. This is a common hand gesture amongst both Buddhist and Hindu statues.
The Medicine Buddha statue's meaning is one of health and healing.
Some Medicine Buddha statues are blue, mimicking ancient painting depictions. The Medicine Buddha pose places his right hand with the palm facing outward and pointing to the ground.
Some statues feature a vine, flower, or other plant growing out of this hand. In his lap, his left hand cradles a bowl filled with healing herbs.
In feng shui, the Medicine Buddha statue is used to restore and protect your health. You can place a Medicine Buddha statue in the east sector (health luck) of your home or office.
Buddha Head Statues
Buddha heads are a popular home décor item.
These decorations ignore Buddha as a religious figure.
Buddha head statues of Buddha face statues are considered disrespectful. To a Buddhist, this is a religious figure and therefore should be treated with the respect it deserves.
A decapitated Buddha isn't found among Buddhist's statues. The rampant black market for priceless ancient Buddha statues throughout Asia and other parts of the world often decapitates statues in order to sell the statue heads.
This makes commercial Buddha head statues sold as home décor especially offensive.
Placement Rules for Buddha Statues
Some rules about placement:
- Never place directly on the ground or in a bathroom; both are considered disrespectful placements.
- Don't place it in your bedroom unless the statue is kept in a cabinet with doors closed when not being used for meditation.
- Always place the statue facing into your room unless placed at the entrance of the home where it should face those entering.
- Garden Buddha statues should always face your home to bestow great abundance.
Material Types of Buddha Statues
Each sector is ruled by a specific element.
You can capitalize on using a Buddha statue for your home, office, or garden by selecting the material of the statue to match the element of the sector. For example:
- Wood element: You can add a carved wooden Buddha statue to activate the wood element in the east and southeast. You can also add this Buddha statue to fuel the fire element in the south sector.
- Metal element: Choose a bronze, copper or other metal Buddha statue for the west and northwest sectors to activate the metal element. You can also use this statue in the north sector since metal produces water in the productive cycle.
- Earth element: A sculpted Buddha made of clay or carved from a crystal can be placed in the northeast or southwest and center of the home to activate the earth element.
Choose Buddha Statues for the Home and Garden
Buddha statues for homes and gardens can be used in feng shui applications to enhance your personal directions as well as energize weakened sectors of your life.
It's important to understand the symbols of each statue design so you can optimize the chi energy it attracts.
These sculptures range from simple stone depictions to more elaborate medieval endeavors. In all regions, Buddha sculptures are used to recall specific incidents during his travels and teachings.
Like Gandharan and Indian sculptures, those in Laos and Thailand often include an usnisa (protuberance at the top of the skull), with a serene facial expression.
Elongated earlobes are also common, calling attention to the Buddha’s renunciation of a princely life when he was weighed down by material possessions.
Hand gestures, or mudra, play an important role in how Buddha sculpture is represented, and certain gestures are favored depending on region.
In Laos and Thailand, charity is represented by the extension of the lowered, open right hand and fingers, while the hand touching the earth alludes to the Buddha’s enlightenment.
Sculptures of Buddhist deities and Bodhisattvas may share certain characteristics with that of the Buddha, such as elongated earlobes, while also having some more distinct attributes.
Each deity is associated with a particular vehicle such as a bull, lion, or bird, making them easily recognizable. Deities may also carry certain objects that further help to identify them. Avalokiteshvara often carries a lotus, while Bodhisattva Maitreya carries a water vessel.
Below are just some of the most commonly found symbols and gestures in Buddhist sculpture:
- Lotus flower: a symbol of good and pure things
- Conch shell: an emblem of power and authority
- The wheel: signifies the Eightfold path set forth by the Buddha, as well as the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. It also signifies the wheel of law
- Parasol: The parasol, or umbrella, casts a shadow of protection and is also a symbol of royalty
- The endless knot: the interaction of opposing forces
- Golden fish: the two sacred rivers of India, Ganga and Yamuna
- Victory banner: an emblem of the Buddha’s enlightenment and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance
Quality & Authenticity
It’s important for collectors to become familiar with the history of Buddhist sculpture in order to help validate the authenticity of an object. For instance, stucco material was favored in Gandhara as well as Thailand, and bronze and copper alloys in Nepal.
Above all, the buyer should always look for great quality. Quality considers a variety of aspects, including the rarity of the subject, the skill of the artist, and the attention to stylistic modeling such as detailed hands, jewelry, and drapery.
The biggest thing is to be fairly cautious or fairly skeptical, particularly if something is claimed to be a fabulous example which has traditionally, or more recently, brought lots of money at auction.
For example, if you are seeing a gilt bronze Buddha from the early Ming Dynasty that has an imperial mark selling for $2-3,000, you should approach it with skepticism.
Lastly, it’s important to keep conditions in mind and remain realistic. While bronze and stone are durable materials, other materials such as stucco are more difficult to preserve as they are more vulnerable to water damage and weathering elements.
Be sure to keep them in dry areas at room temperature, and avoid direct sunlight.
Buddha statues come in a variety of styles and materials.
The most popular type is the standing, contemplative statue that depicts the Buddha with his hands resting on his thighs.
There are also seated Buddhas depicted as meditating or teaching students who may be sitting at their feet. If you’re looking for more information about how to choose your perfect statue, we have some guidelines below! Follow these tips above if you want to learn more about what types of Buddhist sculptures there are and how they can fit into your home decor.