Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

Daibutsu Hand
Daibutsu Hand, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on image to enlarge).
Daibutsu Daibutsu, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on image to enlarge).

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, I am using Buddha hands to represent the theme.  I took these photos of the large Buddha statue, called Daibutsu, at the Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan.  (See my posting here for more information.)   They show the right and left hands of Daibutsu positioned in two different “mudra.”  A mudra is a symbolic gesture, usually with the hands, used in Hinduism and Buddhism.  Mudra is used primarily to indicate the nature and function of the deity.

The first photo shows the right hand, and the second photo shows parts of both hands.  The right hand is in the “Fear Not” mudra, called Semui-in, in Japanese.  The left hand, which is visible in the second photo, is in the “Welcome” mudra, called Yogan-in.

The Semui-in mudra represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. It is usually made with the right hand raised to shoulder height in front of the chest, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers pointing up.  In Japan, when this mudra is used with the middle finger slightly projected forward, it is a symbol of the Shingon Buddhism.

The Yogan-in mudra signifies offering, welcome, charity, giving, compassion and sincerity.  Primarily represents the fulfillment of wishes and granting of benefits to humanity.  The palm offered slightly turned up.  This mudra is usually seen in combination with the semui-in mudra.

I tried to make the first photo look like mostly like an old and faded black-and-white, yet keeping some of the color in the hand to emphasize its focus.

Other interesting information:

  • Daibutsu (大仏) is the largest bronze statue of Buddha.  It is almost 15 meters tall and weighs 500 metric tonnes.
  • Todaiji Temple (東大寺 Eastern Great Temple) is the largest wooden building in the world, even though it is only about two-thirds of it’s original size (57 meters x 50 meters).
  • Construction of the Todaiji Temple began in year 728 and was completed in 752.
  • Nara was the ancient capital of Japan from years 710 to 784