buddhist mudras

Bronze Seated Buddha with Traces of Gold Leaf

Pakistan (ancient region of Gandhara), 1st to mid-2nd century

This small bronze Buddha is probably one of the earliest iconic representations of Shakyamuni from Gandhara. He sits in a yogic posture holding his right hand in abhaya mudra (a gesture of approachability); his unusual halo has serrations that indicate radiating light. His hairstyle, the form of his robes, and the treatment of the figure reflect stylistic contacts with the classical traditions of the West. This Buddha shows closer affinities to Roman sculpture than any other surviving Gandharan bronze.

“Mudras are not simply a means of personal expression or self-empowerment, but ways of communicating with the deity, often in meditation, and drawing divine grace in our lives. Mudras reflect various types of meaning and have a symbolic value, particularly for projecting certain attitudes and emotions, or representing various powers or deities. They can also serve to focus the mind and direct its power of attention. Mahamudra describes the practise of looking directly at the fundamental nature of mind. It also denotes the highest enlightenment.”

- Cain and Revital Carroll: Mudras of India: A Comprehensive Guide to the Hand Gestures of Yoga and Indian Dance