Buddha Heads

  • Antique Buddha head statue

Buddha heads or Buddha head statues, as they are known, are not just the depictions of the head of the Buddha, but the symbolic as well as spiritual representation of the enlightened one's wisdom and knowledge. Though there are many depictions and styles of the Buddha heads depending on the region of the origin, the basic meaning that the iconography represents is somewhat the same over the history of Buddhism. These statues of a prince turned religious/spiritual leader are rather known to have encoded symbols in them, which were used in a preliterate, oral culture to pass on the messages of the Buddha's teachings and knowledge.

Meaning behind the Buddha heads

The Buddha head statues are normally depicted with curly, short hair, in order to show that the prince Siddhartha had cut off his topknot to renounce is prince-hood and his privileged past. Though the historical accounts and evidences suggest the Buddha had a shaved head, the hair of these Buddha head statues is neither totally shaved nor long, representing Buddha's path of the middle i.e. life between the extremes of indulgence and mortification.

Structure of the Buddha heads

Generally, the Buddha head statues are depicted with a protruding head, which symbolizes the disconnection between the mind and body. Such state is also known as Bodhisattva. Similarly, Buddha heads are also known to have another protuberance, on the top of the Buddha's head, known as the Ushnisha, which is a three-dimensional oval at the top. The ushnisha represents the attainment of the Buddha's enlightenment and his reliance in the spiritual guide, though the original function of the ushnisha may have been to represent a crown on the Buddha's head.

The facial structure of the Buddha heads usually have half-closed eyes which show a state of meditation: looking inward into the self as well as outward. The faint smile on the statue also depicts the serene nature and nobility of the Buddha after attaining enlightenment. A dot between the eyes, or the urna, is also another peculiar feature of the Buddha heads. This round tuft of hair between the eyebrows symbolize the supernatural vision of the Buddha Though elongated earlobes in the Buddha heads represent the Buddha's hearing power which is believed that he hears what is needed in the world, the exact reason behind is elongated earlobes may be due the vestiges of his life as a prince, when he wore extravagant and heavy jewellery and earrings on his ears.

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