Buddha sculptures are artistic bodily representations of Gautama Buddha or Prince Siddhartha, who founded Buddhism. Like the religious gospel, that is more on the lines of an atheistic philosophy, the Buddha statues carved also symbolize similar ideologies.
Buddha Sculptures are handmade wonders of great skill and dedication. Each Buddha Sculpture is unique and special. Keeping this in mind, you will be able to discover the varieties of Buddha Sculpture available. Easily available are Tibetan Buddha Statues, Indonesian Buddha statues, Cambodian Buddha Statues, each of these sculpture have a distinct style of their own. Buddha sculptures are made out of brass, marble, jade, copper, wood stone and bronze. Apart from the material the carving style is varied and interesting. Some of the Buddha sculptures depict Lord Buddha in different postures too. The sculptures signify different meanings when carved in different postures.
Tibetian and Nepali statues are made out of bronze and more recently brass. The “Newar” craftsmen do casting with the lost wax or “Thajya” method wherein the wax is lost when the sculpture is made. Solid cast method is usually used for casting small idols as wax is lost in most cases. While for bigger idols, the craftsmen prefer to used hollow wax models and cast. The molten metal is poured over the wax idol and when cooled the wax is removed. At the same time wax is also pressed over the cooled metal statue to get a replica of the Buddha idol which is again used to prepare another metal one.
They also specialize in making sculpture out of the sheet metal using hammer which is called repousse or embossing. Apart from sheet metal, repousse work is also done on brass, gold and silver metals too. Their hammering style is called “Thvajya”. On these Buddha sculpture inlay work using precious or semi precious stones was done to further enhance the sculpture. They also beautify the Buddha statues by using paint and gold on them. This could be distinct trademark of the Newari craftsmanship.
Indonesian Buddha sculptures are handmade using indigenous wood or maghony wood. Even bronze is used to make Buddha sculptures in Indonesia. On the other Cambodian Buddha’s have a distinct identity and are made by equally skilled artisans who have been involved in making of Buddha sculptures since generations.
Buddha sculptures are eye catching and serene. Their presence makes the atmosphere around seemingly peaceful and holy. It does not come as surprise that Buddha sculptures are very popular all around the world.
If we date back into the history of the art, then we will find that it was not ritualistic to indulge in the art of making Buddha sculptures. Gautama Buddha’s teachings and knowledge were only contained by his own followers, who refused to divulge any of the religious detail through writings or drawings. The knowledge was considered to be too sacred, to be inscribed in stone or any other artistic material. It was 400-500 years later, when Buddha was depicted as a saint like figure sitting under the Bodhi tree, attaining enlightenment. Similar depictions became common highlighting the presence of Buddha and his teachings. For example a relief medallion, dating back to 2nd century B.C highlights the worship of the Bodhi tree by four figures.
It was only much later, after Christianity came into being, that Buddha was etched in human form. His figure was given 32 auspicious bodily signs like protuberance of skull, hair knot etc. by the artists of Gandhara art, who flourished under Kushan dynasty in 3rd century A.D. In the following years, they enriched the figurines of Bodhisattvas with more and more details.
The Buddha statue represents the enlightened one. Based on the principle of noble eight fold path, the statue represents all these values when carved in certain postures and hand gestures, also known as asana and mudra respectively.
Buddha statues are more of an interior decor item today. The artistic pursuits have increased and hence, the human form is often found etched on wood, of different varieties. Stone, marble, glass, metal like brass and copper, papier maches are also a few elements of interest for these artists. They are doing full justice to the Buddha figure with varied postures and hand gestures on these building blocks. However, depending on the kind of material it is etched on and the extent of handiwork, the pricing of a Buddha sculpture will be determined. For e.g. a brass figurine would be quite costly as compared to a papier mache one. From a few hundreds, the statue can be priced at an exorbitant rate of a few lakh as well.
The popularity of Buddha sculptures has increased to such an extent that all the upmarket stores and malls are housing human form of Buddha statues these days. These are either the reproduction of the artistic work that flourished under royal patronage or replicas of the original high quality statues that are enshrined in famous temples in some part of the globe.