Understanding Gandharan Buddha Poses and Postures

The Buddha statues and the iconographic representations of other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are often depicted while performing a number of different poses and ritual postures. Also referred to as an asana, there are over 100 poses illustrating the life of the Buddha. And each posture will have a specific hand gesture, called a mudra, and associated with the specific posture.

Find listed below few examples of the most important and popular Buddha’s asanas and mudras.

Bhumisparsha Mudra

In this pose the Buddha, more specifically the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, is seen seated with his right hand as a pendant over the right knee reaching toward the ground with the palm inward while touching the lotus throne. Meanwhile, the left hand can be seen with the palm upright in his lap. This gesture represents the moment of the Buddha’s awakening as he claims the earth as the witness of his enlightenment.

Abhaya Mudra

The Abhaya mudra represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. The mudra was probably used before the onset of Buddhism as a symbol of good intentions proposing friendship when approaching strangers. In this mudra the Buddha is usually depicted with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers upright and joined and the left hand hanging down while standing.

Varada Mudra

The Varada mudra signifies offering, welcome, charity, giving, compassion and sincerity. In this position the Buddha is depicted seated and fatures the left hand resting on the leg with the palm facing up and the fingers pointing down. The right hand appears to be in the Abhayamudra position.

Vitarka Mudra

Called also the Gesture of Teaching, is one of the most widespread mudra. It symbolizes the transmission of teachings and it can be done with both the right and the left hand. The palm of the hand is turned outwards to symbolize, not only the teaching through the discussion, but also without the use of words. The thumb and fore finger touch each other to form a circle that represents the flow of energy. The other fingers remain straight up.

Dhyana Mudra

This mudra refers to the Gesture of Meditation. The seated Buddha is depicted featuring the hands resting in the womb with the palms facing upwards. The right hand rests on the left, with the thumbs touching each other while the other fingers remain relaxed. In this way a triangle is formed, which represents the spiritual fire that consumes all impurities.

Dharmachakra Mudra

The Dharmachakra mudra is also known as gesture of Teaching of the Wheel of Dharma. This gesture depicts one of the most important moments in the Buddha’s life as he performed the Dharmachakra mudra in his first sermon in Sarnath, after he attained enlightenment. The Dharmachakra mudra is formed when the thumb and index finger of both hands touch at their tips to form a circle. This particular circle symbolises the Wheel of Dharma.


A meditative pose featuring the legs crossed and the feet resting on the legs towards the womb, the plants of both feet are visible and facing upwards.


A meditative pose which symbolise serenity. This asana features the legs crossed, the right one over the left, while the soles of the feet are both upwards.


In the full lotus posture, the legs are folded at the knees, and crossed. Both soles point upwards and each sole rests on the opposite thigh.


Gandharan, Indian & Bactrian Antiquities

At Ancient & Oriental, we stock a wide range of artefacts from most ancient cultures and time periods. If you’re looking to buy Gandharan, Indian & Bactrian antiquities from the UK’s leading dealer, with our own certification and authenticity guaranteed, please look around our online shop or call +44 (0)20 8364 4565 if you’d like us to source a specific item.

By Francesca,

  Filed under: Gandhara, India & Bactria   Tags: , , , ,
  Comments: Comments Off on Understanding Gandharan Buddha Poses and Postures

Comments are closed for this post.