Every statue of the Buddha I have seen depicts him as having long ears.

Did Buddha really have long ears? If so, why and how did he get long ears?

  • @kingkero I can't go through long articles. I'm looking for short and precise answer.
    – Mawia
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 12:11
  • Fixed my answer, it isn't the 32 marks. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 13:43
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    At first sight, this would appear to be the kind of question that would put me off coming to buddhism.SE at all. HOWEVER, on seeing @MatthewMartin's answer, and recalling a tour of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco where a lot of points of iconography were explained, I realized that it could be made into a pretty good one by changing it to "Why do statues of the Buddha often have long ears?"
    – tkp
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 16:53

3 Answers 3



The earlobes are elongated, partly to indicate the Buddha is all-hearing and partly as a reminder of the heavy earrings that weighed them down before Siddhartha renounced material things to seek enlightenment.

ref: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2714/why-do-statues-of-buddha-have-long-earlobes

Ah ha, the Ears reference comes from the 80 minor marks: ref: http://news.fjnet.com/english/abcOfBudd/200606/t20060626_30901.htm (credit to yuttadhammo for solving the mystery)

The idea that the Buddha or a Buddha has 32 marks or physical qualities popped up in Buddhism and iconographers followed this list, but long ears isn't on that list.

ref: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level2_lamrim/initial_scope/safe_direction/thirty_excellent_signs_major_marks_.htmlo

  • So, we are not sure whether Buddha actually had long ears or not, right?
    – Mawia
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 13:53
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    There are no written documents, painting or or the like dating from the time of the Buddha. Iconographers didn't start trying to create statues and pictures of the Buddha for 100s of years after his death. We can safely assume he had a family resemblance to ethnic Maghadans (the district of India where he was from). Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 13:55
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    It is on the list of eighty minor characteristics though... Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:02
  1. His ears are long like lotus petals.

The Buddha have The 32 Signs of a Great Man and The 80 secondary characteristics. This is one of the 80 minor Characteristics as the the comment by Ven. @yuttadhammo. For further details see: Physical characteristics of the Buddha and Lakkhana Sutta


These marks are historically conditioned, related to the ideal of beauty at that time, or at least of the people writing those lists; seemingly rational arguments for long ears are a part of the idealization game, be they accurate or not. D. Ingram in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (pg. 302):

The old Theravada texts go to great lengths to list the 32 interesting physical qualities of the Buddha, such as having 40 teeth and arms so long that he could touch his knees without bending down. It is interesting how things change, as in our modern context that would make him look more to us like a dentally challenged Cro-Magnon than a spiritual superhero, but I digress.

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