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The 32 Marks of the Buddha


Have you ever noticed the many variations of Buddhas depicted in different pieces of artwork? Some of these differences can be attributed to tradition or cultural influences, while others are simply artistic liberty. Many artistic renditions  incorporate primary ‘Buddha’ traits described in the Pali Canon. Some Buddhist streams of thought believe another 80 secondary characteristics also exist. The 32 marks of the Buddha, also known as “The 32 Marks of a Great Man,” are physical characteristics believed to have been endowed by the Buddha.

What are the 32 marks of the Buddha and how have some of them been represented in artwork? 


  1. The soles of his feet are level.
  2. The soles of his feet (and palms of his hands) display discus or wheel patterns.
  3. His fingers are long and slender.
  4. His hands and feet are soft.
  5. He has finely netted (or webbed) hands and feet.
  6. He has projecting heels…
  7. … and arched insteps…
  8. … and thighs like a royal stag or antelope.
  9. When standing, the palms of his hands reach his knees
  10. His sexual organ is well-retracted/concealed (usually in a sheath).
  11. His body height equals that of his arm span.
  12. Every strand of hair grows from a single pore…
  13. and turns upward to the right forming small curls that never grey.
  14. His skin shimmers like gold…
  15. … and there is an subtle aura radiating from his skin so that dust and dirt never cling.
  16. His skin is soft and smooth.
  17. The soles, palms, shoulders, and crown of his head are well-rounded.
  18. The area below his armpits is well-filled or there is no hollow space between his shoulders.
  19. He has the body of a lion.
  20. He stands erect and upright…
  21. … with full, round shoulders.
  22. His forty teeth…
  23. …are white and spaced evenly .
  24. He has four pure white canine teeth…
  25. … and a jaw like a lion.
  26. His saliva improves the taste of all food he eats.
  27. His tongue is long and broad…
  28. … and his voice deep and resonant.
  29. He has eyes that are deep blue…
  30. … and eyelashes like a royal bull.
  31. ūrṇā curl releases light between his eyebrows.
  32. He has a fleshy protuberance on the crown of the head.

M. xo

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