Portrait of Buddha

Dear All,

I was reading the first chapter of Gotama Buddha by Hajime Nakamura, which discusses the Sakya origin and as the descent of Aryan-Mediteranean tribe. I have a very large poster printed quite a long time ago which indicates that it is a portrait of Gotama Buddha, painted by Ananda and currently kept as part of the asset of the British Royal Museum. I've attached a low resolution of this picture.

It does resemble an Aryan-Mediteranean person more than Asian/Mongolian stock which some literature claims.

The features are consistent with very early buddhist sculpture.


Wong LC


First, "Aryan" (Indo-Aryan or Indoeuropean etc) and Mediterranean are two VERY distinct ethno-cultural spheres. I heard in a Russian documentary how they labeled the Buddha as "Aryan", an old idea that wanted the priestly and warrior castes as descendants of conquering Aryan tribes.
Today even the conquest hypothesis has been revised by some in favor of simple migration.
The same idea recurred in old France, where the upper caste of nobility was said to descend from conquering Franks, whereas the commoner would descend from extant Gallo-Roman groups.
Most would even dispute Buddha spoke Sanskrit -or a dialect related to the same- as he discarded Sanskrit as vehicle for the doctrine: Mahayana resurrected it.


A prohibition to represent Gautama Buddha was enforced for centuries. In the Ajanta Caves, early frescoes show devotees worshiping not a man, but the dharmachakra, the wheel of dharma. Buddha could also be represented by a tree, footprints, empty thrones etc. Then, this superhuman sage who is “not there” started to be represented as we know today. Buddhism stewed in the smelting pot of Bactria in contact with Greek culture, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism. Some argue that the Japanese Buddhist otaimatsu (Fire ceremony) at Todaiji Temple recalls Zoroastrian influences carried over from Bactria. In Bactria, Buddha was portrayed dressed in Greek style, in the company of Greek gods (possibly Hercules) and kings (possibly Alexander). Campbell (1989:The Way To Enlightenment) links this appearance to the doctrine of Buddha-nature. Art historian B.K. Behl suggests (no date: The Image Of The Buddha) that only under the Kushan Empire (I-IV century CE) in Northern India did kings represent themselves in sculpture. At Dharamsala (India), when the Dalai Lama in exile is not in residence and a great festival such as Losar arrives, his empty throne with his monastic robe is erected and presented with homage as if the real person was there. From a celestial prodigy manifesting in Hebrew scripture and visions only (the Pauline Jesus), Jesus started to be memorialized as an itinerant preacher roaming all across the Holy Land amazing crowds of thousands with miracles and parables.


Phung Nguyen's picture

Portrait of the Buddha

Thanks Wong for the picture of the Buddha.

This look really surprises me as it is very different from the ones I have seen. Do you have a higher res one if you don't mind?

Thanks again Wong

Portrait of Buddha

Dear Wong, Bro & Sis,


The picture is nicely painted. Gotama Buddha was having long hair as a Sangha. I thoughts all Sangha will be having short hair, right?

Just wonder compliance to short hair was one of the vinaya rule during G.Buddha time?

With metta,
gaik yen

Portrait of Buddha

Dear Gaik Yen,

Yes, this is a nicely painted picture by Ven Ananda (as claimed in the picture). A copy of the original poster is rare now.

Maybe opinions from other more knowledgable members are welcomed on this matter. by the way, as for the hair issue, i haven't seen a statue/painting/description of the Buddha without hair/short hair.



Portrait of Buddha

The Buddhists while developing the spiritual attainments of the Buddha into the universal concept of Buddhahood, visualised a perfect man who has attained the spiritual height as a human being.
One of the Buddha’s physical attainments include his hair as we have discussed and it is designed differently to distinguish him from his other disciples. He has special curled hair and the hair is pulled back, forming elegant waves and culminating in a tied top-knot covering the ushnisha protuberance – one of the signs of Buddhahood or superior mental powers.
There are also 73 postures of the Buddha, each posture of Buddha images remind the Buddhists of the different episodes of the Buddha’s life – from birth to his Mahaparinibbana.
The first image of the Buddha appear in the 1st century C.E. in Indian style. Before that the human images of the Buddha does not occur during the first 150 centuries of Buddhist arts. In the Buddha’s prior lives, he is portrayed as a non human form in his earlier existence as a deer or other animals. So when Sakyamuni was represented, he was represented symbolically as a tree, a stupa or an empty throne. These symbols are associated with the Buddha. Statues of Buddha’s, bodhisattva emerged in the 1st century C.E. one of the reasons being that the followers miss their teacher and his images somehow indicates his presence to them.