Sakyamuni ['Sage of the Sakya tribe'] is the title given to the historical Buddha. He was born Siddhartha Guatama in modern Nepal, and probably lived between 563 and 483BC.

Here we focus on the various typical characteristics of Sakyamuni Buddha - hair style, the 'urna' ('third eye'), ears, hand gestures (mudra), lotus flower base.

Click on the links below to explore this rock carving in more detail

Hair style

The Buddha's hair is depicted as short curls, which grew after he cut off his long hair and beard with his sword to show how he had rejected his previous life of luxury.

Third eye

Between his eyebrows, the Buddha has a tuft of hair or a third eye known as the urna, symbolising his spiritual insight.


The Buddha's elongated ears are a reminder of the heavy earrings and other jewellery that he once wore, before he rejected the life of princely luxury that he had been born into.

Hand gestures

The Buddha's missing right hand was probably once raised with the palm facing forwards, the gesture of protection and reassurance known as abhaya mudra. Or it may have had the tips of the thumb and forefinger touching, the gesture of Buddhist teaching known as vitarka mudra.

The Buddha's left hand is in avakasha mudra, the gesture of leisure.

Lotus flower base

The lotus flower is a Buddhist symbol of purity and enlightenment, because it grows out of the mud at the bottom of a pond but remains unspoiled at the surface.


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