Mudras from ‘sunrise at Borobudur’

Recently, we took a trip to visit the Borobudur during sunrise, which we can view the sun rising from Borobudur, rays of light cast itself upon the stupa, constantly and vividly the colours layered itself upon the stones, tints of warm yellow orange, warming up the cool grey stones and rapidly changing with the upward rising movement of the sun.

​I took some photographs of relief panels, below are a few of them, wherein the relief panels, the mudras are clearly identifiable. Sadly, in some relief panels, parts of the reliefs have since eroded and it is difficult to be able to identify the mudras.

Mudras are hand gestures in Buddhist Art. They are found depicted on the statues of Gotama Buddha or other Buddha such as Dhyani Buddha. The mudras are a system of iconography in Buddhist Art. Through studying and identifying the mudras on the statue, we can interpret aspects of the scene depicted, such as, the activities taking placed and what the sitting image was trying to convey. It is a form of visual language, articulating qualities of Gotama Buddha or the Dhayni Buddhas. 

Mere iconography?

We can also think of it as more then mere iconographical illustrations by the sculptors, because the mudras also reinforce Gotama Buddha’s role as the teacher and his enlightenment. Since the mudras are a careful selection out of so many other events that could have been chosen.

One commonly known, accepted and recognised quality of the Gotama Buddha familiar to both Theravada and Mahayana practitioners is that of the physician, however, we can’t find a mudra for that. 

The Abhaya mudra, which represent fearlessness and courage.
Top centre image depict the Dhammacharkra mudra (turning the wheel),
​bottom centre image depicts the Bhumisparsa mudra(Earth witnessing mudra).
The Vitarka mudra which represent the Buddha in teaching.
Top centre image depicts the Dhyana mudra, meditation in concentration.