The study of Buddhism has inspired some of the world’s most beautiful contributions to the world of art, most notable in the form of statues known as Buddharupa that adorn Buddhist temples of worship. Buddhism is about much more than statues and what we learn in the movies, but I guess we all have to start somehow.
So, if you’re curious, feel free to start by enjoying this list and ten of the world’s most famous and beautiful statues celebrating the Awakened One and his message of peace.
10. Hussain Sagar Buddha Statue
The Buddha statue situated at the center of an artificial lake in the city of Hyderabad is one of India’s most famous Buddha statues. This figure stands at a full 17 meters (56 feet) tall and weighs 320 tons. The single largest monolithic statue in all of India, it was sculpted by a group of artisans from a single piece of stone.
9. Tian Tan Buddha Statue
Tian Tan Buddha sometimes locally referred to as the Big Buddha, is located on Lantau Island, in Hong Kong. Fashioned of bronze and completed in 1993, The statue is the main feature of the Po Lin Monastery, symbolizing harmony between man, nature, people and religion. The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a replica of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
8. Monywa Buddhas
Monywa is a city in central Myanmar located on the banks of the Chindwin River. Just east of the city is the Po Khaung Taung, a range of hills where you can see the Monywa Buddha– the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world. This colossal figure measures 90 meters (300 feet) in length. The head alone is 60 feet high. The Monywa Buddha was constructed in 1991 and is hollow inside, allowing visitors to walk along from the head to the feet.
7. Ayutthaya Buddha Head
Thailand’s city of Ayutthaya is the location of one of the world’s most unusual Buddhist statues. Among the ruins of Wat Mahathat (The Temple of the Great Relic) is the remains of a sandstone statue of the Buddha whose body has been lost to the ages but whose head rests appropriately in the climbing roots and vines of a tree.
6. Gal Viharaya
Located in north central Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is the site of one of the most breathtaking of the world’s representations of the Buddha – the Gal Gal Viharaya. This massive rock temple was constructed by Parakramabahu the Great in the 12th century. The central attraction of the temple are 4 large Buddha statues carved into the face of a granite boulder.
5. Ushiku Daibutsu
The Ushiku Daibutsu is located in the city of Ushiku in Japan. Finished in 1995, the figure is one of the world’s tallest statues, standing a total of 120 meters (394 feet) high including the 10m (30 foot) base and 10m high lotus platform. Visitors to the Buddha statue can take an elevator to a platform where an observation deck is situated.
4. Temple of the Reclining Buddha
Located in Bangkok, Wat Pho is famous for the huge Reclining Buddha statue it houses. It is one of the largest temples in Bangkok and also one of the oldest, constructed nearly 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand’s capital. Wat Pho holds the distinction of having both Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha image and the largest number of Buddha images in Thailand.
3. Great Buddha of Kamakura
The Kotoku-in is a Buddhist temple of the Jodo shu sect located in the city of Kamakura in Japan. The temple is famous for its great Buddhist statue (or daibutsu). a colossal outdoor representation of Amida Buddha, one of Japan’s most celebrated Buddhist figures. Cast in bronze, the Great Buddha stands at over 13 meters (40 feet) high and weighs nearly 93 tons.
2. Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Another of Bangkok’s Buddhist temples is Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located within the grounds of the Grand Palace. The main building is the central ubosoth, which houses The Emerald Buddha, one of the oldest and most famous Buddha statues in the world. A jade statue adorned in gold clothing, the Emerald Buddha was, according to legend, created in India in 43 BC in the city of Pataliputra, where it remained for 300 years.
1. Leshan Giant Buddha
The Giant Buddha of Leshan is a gigantic Buddha statue carved out of a cliff face in Sichuan, western China. The great sculpture is a figure of Maitreya — a Bodhisattva traditionally represented in sitting posture. Begun in the year 713 during the Tang Dynasty, the statue was not completed until the year 803, and was the effort of thousands of sculptors and workers. As the biggest carved stone Buddha in the world, the Leshan Giant Buddha is featured in poetry, song and story.