9 Most Popular Buddha Statues And Their Meaning

buddha statues meaning

Buddhism is one of the largest religions in the world and are based on the teachings and principles of Buddha. The statues of Buddha are linked with a god which have been a matter of curiosity for many Buddhists and non-Buddhists as they have different poses, gestures, and styles of presentation.

Collecting the statues and symbols of Buddha have been widespread as the statue represents the symbol of peace, happiness, harmony, and self-realization. They are artistic pieces which are sold in the market but have religious values.

You can find different statues available in the market which have their own meanings and significance. Some of the most common characteristics of such Buddha Statues are Buddha sitting or lying down, Buddha standing, Buddha laughing and different hand gestures of Buddha statue.

9 Most Popular Buddha Statues And Their Meaning 1
Left to Right: Medicine Buddha Statues, Protection Buddha Statues, and Earth Touching Buddha Statues

So, you might have noticed various types of Buddha statues and their poses. All these statues came into existence several hundred years after Buddha’s death. All of these statues have meanings behind them. Here, I will take about 9 most popular Buddha Statues.

Let’s take a closer look at different types of Buddha statue and its meanings.

9 Different Types of Buddha Statues

1. Meaning of Protection Buddha “Abhaya Mudra”

This particular statue is a statue of a seated Buddha whose right is raised in front of the chest and faced outwards away from the body. It has two common meanings. It is said that the raised right hand of Protection Buddha statue represents a shield overcoming fear. Courage protection from fear, delusion, and anger are some of the significance of Abhaya Mudra.

The other features of the statue include either sitting or standing Buddha whose palm lies up in the lap and their left hand may be extended upward. Its left hand may also be carrying a bowl of Buddhist Monk.

The origins of Abhaya Mundra reveals that an important incident had taken place in the life of Shakyamuni Buddha. Protection Buddha statues represent the value of Abhaya Mudra in Buddhist Art.

2. Meaning of Teaching Buddha Statue “Dharmachakra Mudra”

The statue of Teaching Buddha signifies understanding, wisdom and fulfilling destiny. It also symbolizes the spinning of “Wheel of Dharma”. This explains that Buddha has shared Dharma throughout his sentient life.

In the statue, both the hands of Buddha are held at the chest level and the index fingers and thumb form a circle. The palm of the right hand is turned in whereas the palm of the left hand is turned out. The statue of Teaching Buddha depicts a particular incident that has happened in Buddha’s life. It depicts the first sermon the Buddha gave after gaining enlightenment. This sermon was held among a small group of disciples who had previously disdained Buddha.

Dharmachakra Mudra is a statue of Teaching Buddha that is especially for those who believe in spirituality and are interested in learning more about it. This particular statue carries great importance as it symbolizes the inception of Buddhism. The word “Dharmachakra” can be together interpreted as “Turning the wheel of cosmic righteousness.”

3. Meaning of Meditation Buddha “Dhyana Mudra”

Meditation Buddha statues are for the ones who are looking for peace and calm in their life. The statue plays a great role for the ones who want to improve their meditation skill. In this statue, the Buddha is seated in a position that is called double lotus. Buddha’s back of the right hand is rested on the palm of the right hand. It is seen that both the hands of Buddha are rested flat on the lap. The two thumbs join together forming a small triangle. This triangle symbolizes the unity of Buddha, Dharma and, Sangha.

The eyes of the Meditation Buddha are half closed or are closed completely representing focused concentration. The statue is shaped somewhat like a triangle that represents stability. The pose of Meditation Statue is also known as Amitabha Buddha meaning “Boundless Light.”

The Buddha statue meaning of Dhyana Mundra is to encourage calm and peacefulness. Sometimes the Buddha statue depicts the Dhyana Mudra through the left hand with the left hand only.

4. Meaning of Earth Touching Buddha “Bhumisparsha Mudra”

The characteristics of Earth Touching Buddha is crossed legs and left hand sitting in the lap. The right hand of the Buddha statue points towards the ground whose palm is facing inward towards the Buddha. The middle finger is seen slightly touching the ground. This position of Buddha statue is also known to the name “Calling the Earth to Witness.” This defines the moment of enlightenment for Buddha.

This statue represents the story of Buddha that led him to the verge of enlightenment. While Buddha was meditating under the Bodhi tree, a demon called Mara tried to dissuade him from achieving his goal. Buddha overcame fears sent by Mara and called earthly Goddess to witness the enlightenment that he had achieved. The earthy goddess responded his call and wrung her hair releasing flood water and took away demon Mara.  

So, the statue shows a strong bond between Shakyamuni Buddha. This Bhumisparsha Mundra is used by Akshobhya Buddha.

5. Meaning of Gift Giving Buddha “Varada Mudra”

Varada Mundra represents the statue of Buddha that is seated and its right hand is stretched over the right knee. The right-hand falls downward whose palm is facing towards the viewers. This signifies granting a boon to mankind. Varada Mudra can be depicted both in standing and sitting positions. The meaning of this position is to get rid of negative energy and ward off evils.

Many Buddhas use Varada Mudra to express and grant boons such as knowledge, virtues, medicine, and compassion. Varada Mudra is represented by Medicine Buddha. It symbolizes granting gifts of medicine to sentient life.

Varada Mudra or Medicine Buddha is for the ones who are seeking for good health and prosperity. These are commonly found in Buddhist temples in Nepal and Tibet.

6. Meaning of Debating Buddha “Vikarka Mudra”

In the Vikarka Mundra, the statue expresses the teaching of the Dharma. It is a Buddhist symbol for intellectual discussions. In the statue, the tips of the thumb and index finger touch each other and form a circle. The palm of the right-hand faces outwards. It looks similar to Dharmachakra Mudra. The circle that is made from the thumb and index finger symbolize a constant flow of energy claiming that there is no beginning and end.

In the statue, the back of the left-hand lies flat in the lap whose palm faces upwards. It carries an alms bowl of Buddhist monks in which the palm sits flat. The origin of Vikarka Mudra explains that the Buddha was a gifted public speaker and engaged himself in public debates. He defended the Dharma against anyone who challenged him.

The statue signifies the importance of discussion, teaching, and intellectual debates. These are one of the most important tools that will help individuals from turning inwards.

7. Meaning of Reclining Buddha Statue

Reclining Buddha Statue is a representation of Buddha lying down at the time of his Mahaparinirvana. This particular statue represents the historical Shakyamuni Buddha during the last phase of his illness. The Reclining Buddha statue is seen lying on the right side that is facing west and the head rests on its right hand. The right hand is seen placed under the head or on the pillow.

The reclining Buddha is taken as an object of encouragement. It motivates beings to have enlightened and helps in releasing them from suffering in the form of rebirth. The statue comes with a smiling expression of the Buddha that represents calmness and compassion that comes through enlightenment.

This statute has great importance in the teaching of Buddhism. The Reclining statue has different origins such as the entering of Buddha in the state of Paranirvana.

8. Meaning of Standing Buddha Statue “Sukothai”

The most popular standing Buddha statue is known as “Sukothai” which was originated in the 13th century in Thailand. The posture and styles of such statues are quite simple. They are either seen in standing or in walking positions. Standing Buddha statue signifies grace and internal beauty which is called “Phra LeeLaa” in Thai.

The right hand of the statue is raised that faces outward. The left-hand swings along the left side of the body. In the statue, the Buddha stands to keep its right foot behind. The statue represents the time of Buddha’s return after delivering a sermon on Dharma in Heaven.

The common hand Mudra that is used by Standing Buddha statues is the “Varada” which is gift giving and the “Abhaya” which is Protection Mudras using both the hands instead of one.

9. Meaning of Laughing Buddha Statue “Buddhai”

Laughing Buddha is one of the most popular and widely used Buddha statues. The statue is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The physical attributes of Laughing Buddha are different in many ways. It depicts Buddha in his later life who is happy and is carrying a large belly.

The statue of Laughing Buddha can be found either in a standing or sitting position. You can see the hands over his head which is supporting a pot or a vessel.

Laughing Buddha is a popular Chinese diety that is known to the name “Fat Buddha” or “Buddhai”. The character of the Laughing Buddha is based on a real-life Chinese Monk that lived during the 10th Century.

There is a belief that rubbing the fat belly of Laughing Buddha will bring you luck. These statues are often depicted with small children symbolizing prosperity. The Laughing Buddha Statue defines the person as a loving and good character.   

Image Gallery of Some Nepalese Buddhist Statues


Nepal is one of the oldest Buddhist countries where Buddhist culture and tradition prevalent since a long time ago. The history of crafting Buddhist sculptures have been very popular and is passed from generation to generation. Buddhist statues that are made in Nepal as considered very beautiful and artistic and are famous among Asian countries.  

Nepali Buddha Statues are considered as a symbol of peace and learning which leads to the path of Nirvana. The statues are crafted handmade and the methods used while making the statue are quite unique and ancient. All such Buddhists statues are made by highly skilled artisans from Patan, Kathmandu, and Bhaktapur.

So, you can find several Buddhist statues in Nepal that have different styles and postures. If you want to buy one of such Buddhist Statues or gift your loved ones, you can contact us at Handicrafts in Nepal that sells Nepali Handicrafts products at an affordable price.

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