Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mudra (Eastern religious art)


In Eastern religious art, there are various body postures, hand and leg positions with different symbolic meanings. They express the mood and meaning of images of Buddhist, Hindu or Jain deities. Images of Buddha are made standing, seated,

There are three standing positions: straight upright, a twofold contraposto called (abhanga), and a threefold posture called (tribhanga). An upright figure with one foot forward and the other slightly bent behind is the walking position.
AbhangaTribhangaUprightWalking

In reclining postures, the position of the head resolve the meaning. The head pointing toward north denotes attaining nirvana or death. The rest are simple recumbent figures at leisure.
NirvanaLeisure
Most common is the seated postures (asanas). When one leg is placed on top of the other, the sole of the right foot facing upwards and resting on the left leg is called the half lotus position (virasana). Legs crossed with both soles turned upward and resting on thighs is known as the full lotus position (padmasana). The adamantine yogi seated posture is called (vajrasana). Seated with one the knee of one leg up and the other knee down is called a royal posture (rajaliasana). One knee up and the other leg dangling down is the at ease posture (lalitasana). Not very common but an image seated with both legs down in European fashion is known as the (pralambanasana).

   Virasana

     Vajrasana

     Rajaliasana

     Lalitasana

Hand gestures are known as mudras. If the right hand is down and palm face inward, the gesture is known as the earth touching attitude or calling the earth for witness (bhumiphasa mudra). When the hand is raised with palm outward, facing the viewer, it is the gesture of protection (abhaya mudra). If the hand has palms outward but the hand pointing downward, it is the gesture of bestowing (varada mudra). When thumb and index finger are joined in a circle, the gesture means teaching or having a discussion (vitarka mudra).
If the two hands are placed face to face with the index of one hand touching the circle joined by the thumb and the index finger of the other hand, it is the gesture of turning the wheel of the law of motion (dharmachakra mudra). When a seated image has both hands placed palms upward and rest on the lap, it is the gesture of meditaion (dhyana mudra). Both hands clasped and raised to the chest is the gesture of obeisence (anjali mudra).

 Abhaya mudra

 Varada mudra

Vitarka mudra

   Dharma-chakra mudra


Bhumiphasa mudra

Dhyna mudra

Anjali mudra


Metta,
Ba Kaung