Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

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Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Refugee » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:26 pm

From the suttas, we learn that people entering the monastic order (going from home to homelessness) shave their heads. So, it would be reasonable to believe that the Buddha and his disciples had shaven heads. However, the Buddha statues show a "hairstyle" where the hair seems to be gathered into a kind of top-knot. What is the significance of this?
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby bodom » Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:50 pm

He has a topknot as if crowned with a flower garland.


This is one of the 32 or 80 marks of a great man which the Buddha is said to have possessed.

Physical characteristics of the Buddha
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_c ... the_Buddha

topknot is as if crowned with flower garland (You have to distinguish with a Buddha image what you are looking at -- whether it is the physical body of the Buddha which has a topknot like a garland or whether it is the Body of Enlightenment [dhammakaaya] of the Buddha which also has lotus bud on the topknot.)


The Signs of a Great Man
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/Signs- ... -32-80.htm

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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Kenshou » Wed Sep 08, 2010 11:17 pm

I could be wrong but I recall that the hairstyle we often see on Buddha statues is of Greek influence and just kind of caught on. I'll look it up.
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Refugee » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:17 am

bodom wrote:
He has a topknot as if crowned with a flower garland.


This is one of the 32 or 80 marks of a great man which the Buddha is said to have possessed.

Physical characteristics of the Buddha
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_c ... the_Buddha

topknot is as if crowned with flower garland (You have to distinguish with a Buddha image what you are looking at -- whether it is the physical body of the Buddha which has a topknot like a garland or whether it is the Body of Enlightenment [dhammakaaya] of the Buddha which also has lotus bud on the topknot.)


The Signs of a Great Man
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/Signs- ... -32-80.htm

:anjali:


Thanks, Bodom, for your input and the links. The following "mark" from the link you mentioned is also interesting:

32.His head is like a royal turban (Pali: u nahisiso). Note that this denotes his cranial protrusion, visible on Buddhist iconography.


Also thanks to Kenshou. I did some search following your comment and found that the conquests of Alexander the Great could have resulted in Hellenistic (Greek) culture being fused with Indian culture including Buddhism. This could have influenced the Buddhist icongraphy to some extent.

We, here in South Africa, come across very limited range of Buddha rupas and all of the rupas I have seen here have the "top-knot" hair style and thus is a distinctive feature. I can't imagine it being otherwise :shrug:

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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:52 am

Refugee wrote:Also thanks to Kenshou. I did some search following your comment and found that the conquests of Alexander the Great could have resulted in Hellenistic (Greek) culture being fused with Indian culture including Buddhism. This could have influenced the Buddhist icongraphy to some extent.

It's more than 'could have', Refugee. My knowledge is hazy because I've forgotten a lot of what I once knew about it, but IIRC the first Buddha statues were made in the Gandhara area (roughly between modern Pakistan and Iran), under the influence of Greek culture. The very *idea* of god-statues was Greek and overcame the expressed wishes of the Buddha who asked that no statues representing him be made, so it's no surprise that their *style* was also Greek.
Before those first statues, the Buddha and dhamma were represented more symbolically, e.g. the wheel.
Kenshou, please do provide more detail and correct me where I'm wrong.

If you google 'Buddha statue [country]' and replace [country] with Thailand, Japan, China, etc in turn, you will quickly get a lot of pictures. It does seem that the hairstyle is consistent right across Asia, in spite of the fact that the curly locks are so un-Asian. Tradition roolz, OK. :tongue:

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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Sep 09, 2010 10:50 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Refugee wrote:Before those first statues, the Buddha and dhamma were represented more symbolically, e.g. the wheel.


I believe you are correct.

The Greek kingdoms that existed in central asia, were founded by soldiers of Alexander the Great that settled in that area. At the time they were part of the great empire, but as that empire broke into smaller states these greek populations were cut off from Greece it self and had little contact with the Greek cities.

These Indo-Greek kingdoms kept the democratic institutions, their language, religion and their love for philosophy. They were neighbours to Buddhist populations and the Kng Menander I became a Buddhist.

Since they had a deeply rooted tradition of making statues of their gods, they were the first know Buddhists to make statues of the Buddha. Greek god Apollo had curly hair, and so did indo-greek Buddha's statues.

References (Excelent reading):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great#Character
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Greeks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religions_of_the_Indo-Greeks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhist_art
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Refugee » Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:36 pm

Thank you, Kim and Rui Sousa. Your inputs were very informative and has helped me better understand the various cultural influences on Buddhist iconography.
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby nelsonallan » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:49 am

IT will be true that Buddha statues show a "hairstyle" where the hair seems to be gathered into a kind of top-knot. it give so many informative meaning.............................
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Bodhisurfer » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:19 am

I thought that the 'curls' on statues of the Buddha were snails that had covered his head to protect him from the sun while he was meditating - Now that I think of it I cant recall where I got that particular idea from, sadly that hasnt stopped me repeating it many times over the years :embarassed:
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:26 pm

I don't think the Buddha asked his disciples not to depict him in statue- but he did ask Ven Ananda to plant a Bodhi tree so that it may represent him to devotees who came when he wasn't around. However statue worship is done as a mark of faith and gratitude, rather than the idea of worshiping a living god which is the statue itself. Maybe it is Buddha's sense of humour that he showed 'no-one' sitting under a Bodhi tree!

I also read that monks were allowed to have two finger bredths' length of hair. I maybe wrong.

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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby adeh » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:20 pm

The curls on his head are, I think, a misunderstanding of one of the 32 marks. It says that: the tips of his body-hairs (not head hairs) turn up; the upturned body hairs are blue-black, the colour of collyrium, curled and turned to the right....
In one Sutta in the Sutta Nipaata-the Sundarikabhaaaradvaaja Sutta- he is refered to as shaven and a shaveling: ''Then at the sound of of the brahman Sundarikabhaaradvaaja's footsteps the Blessed One uncovered his head. Then the brahman Sundararikhabhaaradvaaja (thinking), 'The venerable one is shaven, the venerable one is a shaveling,' wanted to turn back, but the thought occurred to him: 'Some brahmans here are also shaven; what if I were to approach him and ask about his descent?' ''
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Orlando » Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:59 pm

According to some traditions it is an actual physical bump on his head, meant to be a sign of enlighenment, called an ushnisha. However I read that in the earliest representations it was probably simply a topknot, and that is later got interpreted as something else. Does anyone know about that?

Re, the Greek influience theory, I can't remember seeing any Greek statues with topknots, or, for that matter, the curious texture consisting of lots of little balls that his hairstyle often has. Not saying there weren't any, but it doesn't strike me as typical.
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby unspoken » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:58 am

Buddha is a buddha. Defilements had been destroyed completely. But, the monks are not. Maybe they got too attached to hairstyles and cling towards beauty. Maybe for monks tidy and fixing up their hairs do waste times and energies. So better off shave it.
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Refugee » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:47 am

The top knot could perhaps have been influenced by Hindu or pre-Hindu traditions. See pic below of Hindu God, Shiva:
Image
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:52 pm

The Buddha was bald, with a shaved head and face.

After his renunciation, like all other monks, he ‘cut off his hair and beard’ (M.I,163)
http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=310


The brahman seeing the Blessed One some way off, said this: "Stay there, you shaveling, stay there you wretched monk, stay there you outcast." When he spoke thus the Blessed One said to the brahman: "Do you know, brahman, who an outcast is and what the conditions are that make an outcast?" "No, indeed, Venerable Gotama, I do not know who an outcast is nor the conditions that make an outcast. It is good if Venerable Gotama were to explain the Dhamma to me so that I may know who an outcast is and what the conditions are that make an outcast."
Sn 116-142


And yet every Buddha statue seems to show the Buddha with hair. Has anyone seen even one statue depicting the Buddha as he really was, a bald arahant-samma-sam-buddha?
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby HenryDLacklaw » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:36 pm

Check out statues of the Greek god Apollo. Sometimes his hairstyle looks pretty similar.
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:56 pm

Kim OHara wrote: The very *idea* of god-statues was Greek and overcame the expressed wishes of the Buddha who asked that no statues representing him be made,
Source for this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:54 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Kim OHara wrote: The very *idea* of god-statues was Greek and overcame the expressed wishes of the Buddha who asked that no statues representing him be made,
Source for this?

I can't remember, Tilt - sorry. I did a fair bit of research into early Buddhism 8 - 10 years ago but haven't looked at it much since then. If you had asked me three years ago, when I wrote that sentence, I may have been able to tell you but it has gone from my memory now.
:shrug:
If it occurs to me, I will pop back and tell you.

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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:03 am

Kim OHara wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Kim OHara wrote: The very *idea* of god-statues was Greek and overcame the expressed wishes of the Buddha who asked that no statues representing him be made,
Source for this?

I can't remember, Tilt - sorry. I did a fair bit of research into early Buddhism 8 - 10 years ago but haven't looked at it much since then. If you had asked me three years ago, when I wrote that sentence, I may have been able to tell you but it has gone from my memory now.
:shrug:
If it occurs to me, I will pop back and tell you.

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That would be interesting. I rather seriously doubt such a sutta text that explicitly states that prohibition exists.

See:
http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/resour ... 0Image.pdf See pages 25-8.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Buddha Statues: Hairstyle?

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:16 am

I've heard that the Buddha asked that images not be made of him from several sources, but again no references.
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