History of the Buddha statue

During the Lord Buddha's lifetime, at the strong request of Ananda Thera, a Bodhi tree was planted and an opportunity was provided to worship in his absence. With the Buddha's passing away, his relics were enshrined and the stupa was built.

It was during the reign of King Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty in the first century AD. And also Mahayana Buddhism began to be nourished by receiving the Greek language. As a result, the art of idolatry evolved under different traditions. Therefore, these traditions are divided into four main parts.

Classification by tradition

The Gandhara tradition

The Mathura tradition

Amaravati tradition 

The Gupta Tradition 

Kandy tradition 

The Gandhara tradition

Gandhara traditional idols were created by mixing Greek and Gandhara traditions. Buddha statues were created to reflect the spiritual qualities of Lord Buddha, such as kindness and mercy, using the shape of the god statues of Apollo, the Greek god at that time. Some of the special features found in this tradition are:

Having a narrow forehead 

Thin lips 

Arms close to the body Position of weak eyes 

Having curly hair 

Full biceps 

The Gandhara tradition was popularized in the form of the dharma chakra and the vitarka mudra.

Examples:- Buddha statues in Peshawar city, Begrum in Afghanistan, Katuge in Lahore, Katuge in Karachi are examples.

The Mathura tradition 

The designs of this tradition are based on the images of the Yaksha and Naga tribes in India. This also started during the period when the Gandhara tradition started. At that time, the creation of Buddha statues also took place due to the era in which yaksha and naga statues were being built. However, these Buddha statues have been created with great devotion. Buddha statues are designed with a strong straight body. Some of the special features found in this tradition are:

Widening of the eyes

Wide lips 

Arms away from the body 

The idols, which are shown in full two-legged form, can be said to be Buddha statues inspired by the Mathura tradition. 

Example:- Samadhi Buddha Statue Anuradhapura

Amaravati tradition 

A combination of Gandharva and Mathura traditions helped in the creation of this tradition. A tradition called Amaravati has been created by making up for the shortcomings of the above traditions. This tradition was created under the patronage of Andhra Emperor. Some of the special features found in this tradition are:


Naturalness is given priority

Must be very pleasant 

The spiritual qualities are presented in a creative way

The tradition of creating in shapes like these is special in the construction of statues in Sri Lanka. 

Examples:- Aukana, Raswehera, Maligavila, Pabalu Viharaya Polonnaruwa, etc. idols.

The Gupta Tradition

By the end of 3 statue traditions, the Gupta era had begun. After that statues were built according to Gupta tradition. That is, the Gupta tradition was born as a combination of Gandhara, Mathura and Amaravati traditions. It is known as the highest stage of these art traditions in India. These creations are very graceful, show thirty-two masculinity characteristics and are finished in a very pleasing manner.

Examples:- Sarnath Buddha statue India, Pankuliya Buddha statue

Kandy Tradition

During the Kandy period, some special features of the Buddha statue in Sri Lanka could be seen. Namely, 

Using yellow, and black colors

Applying a series of gathers behind the head Making idols out of bricks and clay Picking the Buddha statue with eyes open 

Applying designs to the folds of the cheevara etc.

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