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Ushnisha - Crown of Lord Buddha

By Gaurav Manandhar at
Ushnisha | Crown of Buddha
Three Dimensional Oval shaped on the top of Buddha that symbolizes the attainment of reliance in spiritual realm.

Ushnisha

Before Lord Buddha as young Prince Siddhartha leave the royal palace to choose ascetic life, there existed a culture of keeping topknot of the hair. This culture especially existed in the royal family that lived in the Lumbini that lies in the land of Himalayas. And many people as well Buddhist monks have a misunderstanding that the topknot of Prince Siddhartha is also called Ushnisha. But this very fact is wrong because, Ushnisha is the three dimensional oval shaped found in the top of the head and is the representation of achievement of spiritual reliance.

"His topknot is like a crown.
He has a topknot as if crowned with a flower garland."

In Buddhist tradition and architecture, Ushnisha is considered as an important features of Buddha statues, Buddhist sculptures. Ushnisha is quite popular in Burmese Buddhist tradition. Even though the actual proof of whether Lord Buddha had Ushnisha during his lifetime had not been solved but the first representation of Ushnisha was first found in the 1st Century. The first representation was done in Greco-Buddhist art that existed in kingdom of Gandhara. In early Mahayana Buddhism, the plastic art that existed in Mathura represented Ushnisha in quite different version. They represent Bodhisattvas in the form of ushnisin i.e. "Monks wearing hair Binding".

  • Ushnisha

Representation of Ushnisha in Buddhist art

Ushnisha is quite popular features in the ancient, medieval as well as modern Buddhist art. As mentioned above, even the Buddha images from 1st century represent Ushnisha in Gandhara art. Even though the styles and meanings of Ushnisha were different in ancient Buddhist art, there are many cases in Medieval as well as modern Buddhist art that includes the high importance of Ushnisha in the Buddha statues as well Buddha images.

The representation of Ushnisha can also vary according to various Buddhist tradition that existed in different Buddhist countries. The appearance is mostly different in the Buddha statues when compared in different Buddhist tradition. In South Asian Buddhist countries, the Ushnisha were given quite a different appearance i.e. schematic appearance where flame or lotus flower was used instead of chignon in Ushnisha of Buddha statues, and Buddhist sculptures.