This video is built around a talk given in the Vivekavana Buddhist Society, Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia on April 28th, 2013.
The talk is about the scriptural and sculptural respresentations of the Buddha as they developed over the years, and is illustrated with relevant texts, maps and photographs.
In the early discourses we find the Buddha was quite indistinguishable from any other recluse, he was shaven-headed, wore a robe and looked like any other monk.
But in the later discourses he is described as having the 32 Marks of a Great Man, an extraordinary set of characteristics, which would certainly make him easily recognisable.
In the early aniconic representations at Sanchi, Bharhut and Amaravati he is not shown at all, but his presence is signified by symbols: the Diamond Throne, the Bodhi Tree, the Holy Feet and more.
The first sculptures of the Buddha arose in the Indo-Greek kingdoms around Gandhara and show him looking like a Greek, where the obvious model has been Apollo.
In the classical Gupta period the Buddha acquires most of the iconography which we now recognise as being characteristic of a Buddha statue.
The talk concludes by showing some of the main postures the Buddha statues are seen in: calling the earth to witness, teaching, meditating, giving blessings and fearlessness, and reclining.
The maps used in this talk (and more) can be found here: Indian Buddhist Art Schools
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