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Mudras are a non-verbal mode of communication and self-expression, consisting of hand gestures and finger postures.

The composition of a mudra is based on certain movements of the fingers; in other words, they constitute a highly stylized form of body or hand language. It is an external expression of inner resolve, suggesting that such non-verbal communications are more powerful than the spoken word. 

Mudras are used not only to illustrate and emphasize the meaning of an esoteric ritual. It also gives significance to a sculptural image, dance movement, or meditative pose, intensifying their potency.

Another interesting meaning given to the idea of the mudra is that it reveals the secret imbibed in the five fingers. In such an interpretation, each of the fingers, starting with the thumb, is identified with one of the five elements, namely the sky, wind, fire, water, and the earth. Their contact with each other symbolizes the synthesis of these elements, significant because every form in this universe is said to be composed of a unique combination of these elements. This contact between the various elements creates conditions favorable for the presence of the deity at rites performed for securing some desired object or benefit. That is, mudras induce the deity to be near the worshipper.

Each one of our statues is unique in its own right.  Whether the statue is carved from granite stone, limestone, greenstone or lava stone, each statue comes with its own unique mudra. 

In the following section we will provide you with a brief description of each of the mudras that you will see at Trade Winds Statues™.

Parinirvana – Reclining

The Buddha, Shakyamuni died peacefully at the age of eighty or eighty-one in a grove of trees near Kushinagara in northern India.  In sculptural representations of the Buddha’s death, he is most commonly depicted laying on his right side, and wearing a peaceful, serene expression when he left his physical form and passed into final enlightenment.  The Parinirvana mudra is also commonly referred to as the Buddha’s “moment of death”.  

Abhaya – Fearlessness

Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearlessness. The Abhaya, or fearlessness gesture is one of the most commonly depicted mudras, representing benevolence and the absence of fear.  The gesture confers onto others the same freedom from fear, so this mudra can also be interpreted to mean, fear not.  The gesture is made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, with the arm bent and the palm facing outward.  A Buddhist legend tells of the historical Buddha being attacked by an angry elephant, to calm the raging animal he simply held up his hand in the fearlessness gesture. This mudra is nearly always used in images showing the Buddha upright, either immobile with the feet joined, or walking. This mudra, which initially appears to be a natural gesture, was probably used since prehistoric times as a sign of good intentions; the hand raised and unarmed proposes friendship, or at least peace; since antiquity, it was a plain way of showing that you meant no harm since you did not carry any weapon.

Bhumisparsa – Touching the Earth

Literally, Bhumisparsha translates into touching the earth. The gesture of "touching the earth" or as it is also referred to the “earth witness" mudra commemorates the posture in which Shakyamuni overcame the obstructions of the demon Mara while meditating on Truth. This mudra, formed with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground, symbolizes the Buddha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree, when he summoned the earth goddess, Sthavara, to bear witness to his attainment of enlightenment. 



Varada – Compassion

This mudra symbolizes charity and compassion. It is the mudra of the accomplishment of the wish to devote oneself to human salvation. It is nearly always made with the left hand, and can be made with the arm hanging naturally at the side of the body, the palm of the open hand facing forward. The five fingers in this mudra symbolize the following five perfections: generosity, morality, patience, effort, and meditative concentration.  This mudra is rarely used alone, but usually in combination with another made with the right hand.



Dharmachakra – Turning the Wheel of Dharma

Dharmachakra in Sanskrit means the Wheel of Dharma. This mudra symbolizes one of the most important moments in the life of the Buddha, the occasion when he preached to his companions the first sermon after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath. It thus denotes the setting into motion of the Wheel of the teaching of the Dharma.

In this mudra the thumb and index finger of both hands touch at their tips to form a circle. This circle represents the Wheel of Dharma, or in metaphysical terms, the union of method and wisdom. The three remaining fingers of the two hands remain extended. These fingers are themselves rich in symbolic significance.  The three extended fingers of the right hand represent the three vehicles of the Buddha's teachings, namely: the middle finger represents the 'hearers' of the teachings, the ring finger represents the 'solitary realizers', and the little finger represents the Mahayana or 'Great Vehicle'.  The three extended fingers of the left hand symbolize the Three Jewels of Buddhism, namely: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.  Significantly, in this mudra, the hands are held in front of the heart, symbolizing that these teachings are straight from the Buddha's heart.


Dhyana – Meditation

The Dhyana mudra, which may be made with one or both hands, is the gesture of absolute balance. Dhyana is the mudra of meditation, of concentration on the Good law, and of the attainment of spiritual perfection. When made with a single hand the left one is placed in the lap, while the right may be engaged elsewhere. The left hand making the Dhyana mudra in such cases symbolizes the female left-hand principle of wisdom. Ritual objects such as a text, or more commonly an alms bowl symbolizing renunciation, may be placed in the open palm of this left hand.


When made with both hands, the hands are generally held at the level of the stomach or on the thighs. The right hand is placed above the left, with the palms facing upwards, and the fingers extended. In some cases the thumbs of the two hands may touch at the tips, thus forming a mystic triangle.

The esoteric sects obviously attribute to this triangle a multitude of meanings, the most important being the identification with the mystic fire that consumes all impurities. This triangle is also said to represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism, mentioned above, namely the Buddha himself, the Good Law and the Sangha. According to tradition, this mudra derives from the one assumed by the Buddha when meditating under the pipal tree before his Enlightenment.



Jnanamudra – Teaching

Jnanamudra symbolizes the gesture of teaching, with the tips of the index finger and the thumb joined and held near the center of the chest, the palm turned inward. If the palm is turned outward, it is the Mudra of discussion and debate, called Vitarka.





Namaskara – Greeting

This mudra signifies the gesture of greeting, adoration and prayer; the two hands are kept close to the chest, touching palm to palm.  This mudra became the prototype of the Indian and Nepali greeting and a show of respect.




Samadhi – Awakening  

This is the mudra of meditation, and concentration (samadhi) on the Dharma, of the attainment of spiritual perfection, and of bodhi or awakening. This is the most common mudra used to depict the Buddha when meditating under the Bodhi tree before his Enlightenment. 

This mudra has been widely adopted by yogis and various practitioners during meditation and concentration exercises and it indicates perfect balance of thought, rest of the senses and tranquility.  The hands are generally held at the level of the stomach or the thighs, the right above the left, the palms upward, fingers extended and thumbs touching at the tips, thus forming a mystic triangle.  The triangle is symbolic of the spiritual fire (mystic fire that consumes all impurities - Chinese Mahayana).  In South East Asia, this mudra is frequently used in the image of the seated Buddha, the joined thumbs do not form a "mystic triangle" and are placed against the palm. The position of the Samadhi mudra with the joined thumbs forming a triangle is symbolic of the Tiratana (Three Jewels) namely the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The triangular form also indicates the firmness of the body and of the mind.