There are many Buddhas in the world. The story by Ashvaghosha called The Life of Buddha talks about the original Buddha, and how he came to be. Sculptures and pictures of Buddha always have the same features. From the Art Institute in Chicago comes a sculpture of Buddha from China. These two things have a lot in common. The parts of the body in the sculptures depict certain things about a Buddhas life and the way Buddhism spread though Asia influenced the arts depicting Buddha.
Most works of art involving Buddha have features that are almost always there. Whenever a person sees Buddha, he always has most of the ten qualities or powers of a Buddha, described in Story of the Life of Buddha Shakyamuni. However there are thirty-two major characteristics and eight minor, among them is the eight-spoked lines on the soles and palms. The spot between Buddhas eyebrows, sometimes calls the third eye or wisdom bump, is a mark of wisdom. The nose has a specific length like the ears have their own characteristics. The enlightenment-elevation on the top of the head, describe by old texts as emerging from the head of a saint, symbolize Buddhas enlightenment and is a visible symbol of the spiritual generative power that strives toward heaven and passes into the immaterial sphere. (Buddhist Art: Perfect Proportions of a Buddha, Para. 3). The Yoga position stemming from the pre-Buddhist tradition in India hides the lower half of Buddhas body, but show the divine meditating with the utmost concentration, soles visible. The image of Buddha expresses serenity and proportional beauty. These Measurements are laid out in the canon of Buddhist art, which corresponds to ideal physical proportions; each span has a twelve-finger breadth and has 9 breadths. If there is a background behind Buddha it usually depicts a halo around his head. For example, the Buddha in Buddhism: a Brief Introduction on page thirty-eight exhibits a fiery halo.The Buddha statue from the Art Institute is sitting in the lotus position, have the wisdom bump, and the hair is knotted on the top of the head. Also the Buddha would have had long ear lobes if they were not broken off. The long ear lobes seem to be a symbol of his wealth and that the fact that they are now longer filled shows that he renounced wealth. At the end of the story the Prince did just the he renounced his wealth and became Buddha. He went throughout the land spreading his thoughts and teaching in a way. The hair in a knot was part of a fashion at the time and to also renounce comfort. The halo in the back can represent a few things it can either be the sun behind him, or a symbol for Buddhist teachings. Also most images of Buddha that are created seem to depict him as being Asian or at least light skinned.
Buddhism spread through China during the Tang Dynasty. Before the Tang Dynasty Confucianism held it back. The Tang Dynasty was the age of literature and art in China. When it was accepted in China it spread quickly due to the invention of the block printing. This allowed written word to spread quicker then before. During this time there were lots of images of Buddha and sculptures created during this period as well. The Art Institute in Chicago has several works of art dealing with Buddhism in someway. All of the Chinese figures of Buddha exhibit the ten qualities of Buddha and most of the thirty-two characteristics.
When you look at it these pieces have a lot in common. By looking at the statue you see the things that he has given up by Buddha and the story about his life show why he is this way. I found the religion and the art somewhat strange. Some of the concepts did not grab quite right.