Women and East Asian Art

Amida Buddha




amida buddha


Buddhism was originally developed in Nepal and India.  As it was transmitted to East Asia, Buddha were depicted in many different styles and forms with various types of symbols. The wooden sculpture Amida Buddha from Japan in our exhibition is a good example of such. This sculpture shows a seated buddha with his legs crossed on a large golden throne wearing eloquent red and gold clothing.  Gold is ideal in most Buddhist sculptures, however in Thailand they use bronze because it is more affordable for the artists to make these sculptures as seen in later exhibitions from the Trout Gallery at Dickinson College. The Buddha in this image is a dark black color contrasting to the bright golden throne where he is sitting on his throne there are flowers underneath where he is seated, embodying the beauty and wealth of this Buddha. There are many key Buddhist attributes such as the color schemes, subtle hand gestures, and textures on a statue portrayed throughout this sculpture that hold significant Buddhist meaning.

Symbolism plays a big part of many Buddhist sculptures and shows the reasoning behind colors, hair, hand gestures, and many other key elements. In this piece, the color red is shown on the Buddha’s lap, the color red is a very important color in Buddhism. That color is only found on statues that represent the Amida Buddha, which is the Buddha of light and Western pure land paradise. Red signifies the Amida’s ability to help sentient beings’ false attachments to wisdom. This buddha also appears to show curls on his head, which is quite common in Buddhism. These curls represent the moment when the Buddha shaved their head, which is what they do once they achieve enlightenment. These curls are a sign of power for most Buddha’s letting people know that they have achieved the highest level within Buddhism. (Snail-shell curls on ushnisha – popular style in Gupta/4th century India.) The Buddha also has his hands placed on his lap, placing them on top of each other which shows a sign of meditation. The right hand which appears to be placed on top of the left can be interpreted as the world of enlightenment, having more significance than the left hand that is seen as the world of appearance.  Both hands however are seen as different forms of meditation.  Symbolism is a big part in Buddhist sculptures and shows the true meaning of each statue.

By, Cameron Battisti

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