BuddhaNet.Net Art & Architecture
The image of Buddha expresses serene quiescence. The harmony of his physical proportions is the expression of great beauty. The required measurements are laid down in the canon (or standard pattern) of Buddhist art, which corresponds to ideal physical proportions. The span is the basic measure, i.e. the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the tip of the thumb of the outspread hand. This distance corresponds to the space between the dimple in the chin and the hair-line. Each span has twelve finger-breadths. The whole figure measures 108 finger-breadths or 9 spans corresponding to the macro-micro-cosmic harmony measurements.
The perfect proportions of a Buddha, the graciousness of his physical form, represent one of the ten qualities or powers of a Buddha. They are the characteristics of the physical harmony and beauty of a Great Being, and are described in Story of the Life of Buddha Shakyamuni. There are thirty-two major and eighty minor characteristics. The lines of the eight-spoked on the soles and palms of a Buddha are among them. The appearance and the measurements of a Buddha are perishable and a worldly conception: they describe the ideal picture of a Heavenly Body. They are not subject to change like growth, sickness and death, which can only affect the earthly incarnation of a Buddha.