Asian art

Buddhist art during aniconic and iconic period

greco buddhist art

View our Buddha Statues in our gallery

When Siddhartha Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment, he first taught his knowledge to his five disciples. Later along with other disciples, he wandered places and spread the knowledge and true meaning of life to different peoples. Gradually, people joined with him and became a monk. He gave the discourse on many topics. The knowledge had been transferred orally through one disciple to another. The knowledge was not recorded by any means. As time passed by, the teaching was then represented in the art forms in order to spread the knowledge and awareness about the life history of Buddha. This art form can be divided into two distinctive phases- Aniconic and iconic phase

Aniconic Phase

ayutthaya

In the 2nd to 1st century BCE, the buddhist arts were made representing episodes of the Buddha's life and teachings. These arts took the form of votive tablets or friezes and were generally used as the decoration of stupas or Buddhist pilgrimage sites. In this phase, the Buddha was represented through symbols. He was never represented in the human form. As Digha Nikaya reports, this act was connected to one of the Buddha's saying that discouraged representations of himself after the extinction of his body. Since the artists were reluctant to represent Buddha anthropomorphically, they developed more sophisticated symbols to represent Buddha. The Buddha was then represented through symbols - empty throne, Bodhi tree, a riderless horse with a parasol floating above an empty space, Buddha's footprints, dharma wheel, etc. - in narrative scenes where other human figures would appear.

This form of art was also seen as late as the 2nd century CE in the southern parts of India. The antique Buddhist art, Mara's assault on the Buddha was the art form from Amaravati School which also is the example of Aniconic Buddhist art. Other examples are from Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya and frescoes at Sigiriya. It is recorded that the frescoes at Sigiriya are older than the Ajanta Cave paintings.

Iconic phase

buddha statues

In the south of India, Buddha was represented through symbols even after 1st century but in the north India, the artists were coming up with the different verse of art forms. It was in the north India where the anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha started. The anthropomorphic Buddha images were developed from two different areas, the region of Gandhara and the region of Mathura. The Gandhara is in present day North West frontier province in Pakistan and the Mathura in central northern India.

It is recorded that Gandharan art was the result of interaction with Greek culture. This interaction was possible due to the conquests of Alexander the Great in early 4th century CE. It is believed that this school of sculpture contributed artistic features in the image of Buddha. These are mainly wavy hair, drapery covering both shoulders, shoes, and sandals, etc.

The art of Mathura tends to be based on a strong Indian tradition. The art by Mathura school included anthropomorphic representation of divinities such as the Yaksas along with the Buddha. This school of art contributed clothes covering the left shoulder of thin muslin, the wheel on the palms, the lotus seat, etc.

It was recorded that both the region strongly influenced each other. It is a matter of debate whether the anthropomorphic representation of Buddha was a result of the local evolution of Buddhist art at Mathura or a consequence of Greek cultural influence in Gandhara. Even though the Buddhism was spread through the art form, it was not included in music and dance.

View our collections of statues and arts in our gallery

Later in the 4th-6th century CE, during the Gupta period, the new version of Buddha images of Mathura, pink sandstone sculptures, evolved. With the development of this art form, it was believed that the Buddhist art reaches a new height of fineness of execution and delicacy in the modeling. The art of the Gupta School was extremely influential almost everywhere in the Asian countries. With the development of silk trade route and maritime trade route, the art and culture strongly influence other parts of Asia, mainly south Asian countries. South Asian countries built the Buddha art - antique Buddha statues, fresco- at various locations but later these arts blended with their local art forms and hence lead to their own verse of Buddhist arts.

In the present time, the anthropomorphic representation of Buddha is created based on the different basis of Buddhism- Mahayana, Theravada - in particular.

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Our collections of Buddha statues and arts

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

275 euro
Very early Jain statue with inscriptions

Very early Jain statue with inscriptions

600 euro
Bronze Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

Bronze Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

175 euro
Very special bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Very special bronze Burmese Buddha statue

47,500 euro
Old bronze Nepali Ganesha statue

Old bronze Nepali Ganesha statue

350 euro
Old wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Old wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha

800 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

500 euro
Old bronze Nepali Green Tara

Old bronze Nepali Green Tara

1,350 euro
Special antique marble Jain statue

Special antique marble Jain statue

2,750 euro
Old red Burmese offering vessel

Old red Burmese offering vessel

750 euro
Special antique bronze Shan Buddha statue

Special antique bronze Shan Buddha statue

7,500 euro
Old marble Hanuman statue

Old marble Hanuman statue

650 euro
Old bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Old bronze Burmese Buddha statue

500 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Mandalay Buddha statue

1,850 euro
Old bronze Manjushri statue

Old bronze Manjushri statue

550 euro
Old bronze nepali Ganesha statue

Old bronze nepali Ganesha statue

250 euro
Old bronze Nepali Lokeshwor statue

Old bronze Nepali Lokeshwor statue

1,750 euro
Old bronze Parvati statue

Old bronze Parvati statue

900 euro
Old bronze Nepali White Tara statue

Old bronze Nepali White Tara statue

325 euro
Antique marble Ganesha statue

Antique marble Ganesha statue

2,850 euro
Old marble Burmese Buddha statue

Old marble Burmese Buddha statue

900 euro
Old Burmese Buddha statue

Old Burmese Buddha statue

1,600 euro
Pair of old marble lion statues

Pair of old marble lion statues

700 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

600 euro
Special antique Ivory Japanese Zushi shrine

Special antique Ivory Japanese Zushi shrine

14,500 euro
Antique bronze Thai Sukhothai Buddha statue

Antique bronze Thai Sukhothai Buddha statue

1,600 euro
Antique ivory Japanese figure

Antique ivory Japanese figure

1,500 euro
Old wooden Burmese Monk statue

Old wooden Burmese Monk statue

300 euro
Old wooden Burmese Throne

Old wooden Burmese Throne

1,250 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

600 euro
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