From inside

2010 – Mudra – head body hands – terra cruda

During a visit to Ladak, I spend some time in Leh to get acclimated to the altitude.

I feel like I was in a bubble where everything is soft and smooth, hard and slow pace, shortness of breath…

Despite lack of oxygen stresses the physicality of the body struggling to adapt, I have more and more the impression to have entered another dimension closer to the immaterial, more similar to rarefied air, in connection to the “subtle energies” of the universe.

Next to a modern temple, erected in one of the highest places of the town, I notice a building yard of a future worship building; walls with plastering, cement sacks, paint buckets everywhere… inside the building I see a Buddha statue covered by a white veil, as if this only presence would define the sense and the origin of that place, its origin, even before floors, ceilings, doors or windows.

At the same time is just as a statue, having a symbolic meaning, was revealing itself in its physicality becoming a body to be touched, covered.


In the history of human communication, gestures come before words. That is why every culture still uses a lot of the ancient gesture language depicted in oriental and western religious iconography.

I think that gestures originate one of the first human’s abstraction forms: the ability to create signs, to give a form to a thought, an idea.

Mudra, literally “seal”, is a Sanskrit term indicating the positions of hands and fingers of a statue assuming a relevant symbolic meaning.

The original function of Mudra was to express through gestures the peculiar features of a god or the form through which the divinity manifest itself in human beings.”

“The hand is the only part allowing a “sensorial reciprocity”: it can touch and be touched (while the eye can see without being seen, the ear can listen without being listened to, the nose can smell without necessarily being smelled)…

Hands are symbols of power (the Jewish word iad means both “hand” and “power”).

The right hand, doing most of the movements, generates a more masculine energy; the left hand, more submissive and obedient, produces a more feminine energy.

With this piece of art I represent the body of the Buddha divided into bust, head, hands (representing some Mudra positions), sculpted in raw earth. Both bust and head are empty and built with “colombino” technique, used to shape clay vases or containers in general.


Figure  SEQ Figura \* ARABIC 1


Hand up with palm outwards, thumb and forefinger joint.

It refers to the teaching of the doctrine


Hands in lap, palms upwards.

Meditation, spiritual enlightenment, it represent the feminine principle of wisdom.

Figure  SEQ Figura \* ARABIC 2

Right and left hands JNYANA-MUDRA

The left hand hold the right index.

Muda of supreme wisdom symbolizing the unity of Buddha’s body containing the multiplicity of creatures.

Figure  SEQ Figura \* ARABIC 3


Right hand at shoulders level, straight fingers and palm outwards.

It invites the disciples to have absolute faith, assuring protection.


Left hand kept low with palm outwards.

It indicated goodwill and compassion: the faithful desires will be satisfied.

Figure  SEQ Figura \* ARABIC 4


Right hand rests over the knee, back facing the faithful.

It indicates the earth to call her as testimony of the reached enlightenment.


Hand rests in lap with palm upwards.

Meditation, spiritual enlightenment, it represent the feminine principle of wisdom.

Figure  SEQ Figura \* ARABIC 5

Right and left hands APAN-MUDRA

Thumb, middle and ring finger joined keeping the other fingers straight and relaxed.

It is the Mudra of energy.

Figure 6


Quote from “Dizionario delle religioni Orientali”, A. Vallardi.

Quote from “Mudra: la magia della gestualità”, P. Perriello

The art and the senses
Every means has its limits:
the music is blind,
the painting is silent
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