Mudras are Buddhist hand gestures. They function both as symbols in Buddhist art and as actual hand gestures used during Buddhist meditation or ritual.
Like objects held by saints in Christian art, mudras indicate the identity of a Buddha or a particular scene being depicted in Buddhist art.
Mudras are also used in ritual meditation, especially in Tibetan Buddhism, to generate forces that invoke a particular Buddha or deity. While there are a large number of esoteric mudras, there are ten main ones, of which five are most commonly used in Buddha images. Each of the Five Dhyani Buddhas is assigned one of the five mudras, with which they are invariably depicted in art.
Table of Contents
- McArthur, Meher, Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2004), 111.
- “Mudras: Symbolic Hand Gestures.” Buddhanet.
- “The Ten Most Important Mudras.” Zen Buddhism at Neurotopia.
- “Buddha Mudras: Hand Positions of the Buddha.” Lotus Sculpture.
- “Mudra.” Wikipedia.
- Kumar, Nitin. “Mudras of the Great Buddha: Symbolic Gestures and Postures.” Exotic India Art. .