What does a man with all 32 Marks of a Great Man look like?

When reading the marks I always imagine they probably described an Alien Reptilian. I cannot find a picture/presentation where all 32 marks are properly display according to the text. Has there been such an effort yet?

Image Source: https://www.deviantart.com/spearhafoc/art/The-Grey-Reptilian-Hybrids-460883533

1. Level feet
2. Thousand-spoked wheel sign on feet
3. Long, slender fingers
4. Pliant hands and feet
5. Toes and fingers finely webbed
6. Full-sized heels
7. Arched insteps
8. Thighs like a royal stag
9. Hands reaching below the knees
10. Well-retracted male organ
11. Height and stretch of arms equal
12. Every hair-root dark colored
13. Body hair graceful and curly
14. Golden-hued body
15. Ten-foot aura around him
16. Soft, smooth skin
17. Soles, palms, shoulders, and crown of head well-rounded
18. Area below armpits well-filled
19. Lion-shaped body
20. Body erect and upright
21. Full, round shoulders
22. Forty teeth
23. Teeth white, even, and close
24. Four canine teeth pure white
25. Jaw like a lion
26. Saliva that improves the taste of all food
27. Tongue long and broad
28. Voice deep and resonant
29. Eyes deep blue
30. Eyelashes like a royal bull
31. White ūrṇā curl that emits light between eyebrows
32. Fleshy protuberance on the crown of the head

In exobiology there is Silurian Hypothesis, the chance of modern science’s ability to detect evidence of a prior advanced civilizations here on earth, perhaps several million years or even billion years ago, is next to impossible.


The “Discourse of the Marks” (Lakkhaṇa Sutta) in DN 30 (= MA 59 ) enumerates and explains the 32 characteristics. These are also enumerated in MN 91, the Brahmāyu Sutta (= MA161).

Did the Buddha teach these discourses of the 32 marks for the Buddha himself?

I think the 32 marks were possibly connected with the religious ‘image worship’ at that time, after the first Buddhist council?

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Possibly, but there are mentions everywhere in the suttas, DN 14 for example, past Buddhas also possess these 32 marks.

The thing that nags me is that, despite uncountable of statues and depictions of the Buddhas, currently there is no complete depiction with all of the 32 marks present.

My hypothesis is that if they were to include all of the marks in their depictions or statues then they would just be too terrify for the worshipers, hence, often only the curly hair are depicted.

Never thought about this. But I believe its just a indian real humans tradition. I myself have some of the qualities. Everyone can have some of them.

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In suttanipata Buddha said which of the marks a master had.

Yeah, but it’s a different story when one person possesses all 32 marks, if you imagine it enough I believe you would come quite close to my conclusion - that Reptilian picture. Hence, no one ever depicted the Buddha with all 32 marks on a statue or picture.

I think the religious artists did not follow closely entirely the idealistic images of Buddhas required or presented by the DN/MN (= DA/MA) editors. But they did follow some of them.

Well. I know of one Ghandara depiction where Buddha Kassapa is shown really bigger than the bodhisatta.

This is not the one I meant. But found this. And if see more Ghandara art. Buddha is mostly bigger than the people around. So imagine “long” fingers etc


Same tradition as in egypt.


The earliest surviving phase of Buddhist art was generally aniconic. The Buddha was represented as symbols such as a footprint, an empty chair, a riderless horse, or an umbrella.

Later, iconic sculptural traditions were established. Two of the most important were in the regions of Gandhara and Mathura.

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From wiki Buddha footprint. So the tradition truly Buddhas was giants. :slight_smile:

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One of the issues in history was who had made the ‘rules’ (such as the 32 marks) for presenting the Buddha images for religious worship?

Is this now the scholarly consensus?

I haven’t paid the issue much attention for the last couple of decades, but the last time I did so the aniconism theory was actually a subject of hot debate, following the 1990 publication of Susan Huntington’s critique of it.

This is her paper:

Early Buddhist Art and the Theory of Aniconism

And from Wikipedia:

However, in 1990, the notion of aniconism in Buddhism was challenged by Susan Huntington, initiating a vigorous debate among specialists that still continues to occur. She sees many early scenes claimed to be aniconic as in fact not depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha, but worship of cetiya (relics) or re-enactments by devotees at the places where these scenes occurred. Thus the image of the empty throne shows an actual relic-throne at Bodh Gaya or elsewhere. She points out that there is only one indirect reference for a specific aniconic doctrine in Buddhism to be found, and that pertaining to only one sect.

As for the archeological evidence, it shows that some anthropomorphic sculptures of the Buddha actually existed during the supposedly aniconistic period, which ended during the 1st century CE. Huntington also rejects the association of “aniconistic” and “iconic” art with the division that emerged between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. Huntington’s views have been challenged by Vidya Dehejia and others.


Are any Buddha images found during 5th–1st century BCE (the so-called ‘Pre-iconic phase’)?

Knowing almost nothing about the archaeology of India, I’m afraid I can’t say what has or hasn’t been found.

Your question, however, seems to be sidestepping Huntington’s central contention, which is that what scholars had previously taken to be aniconic depictions of the Buddha are not in fact depictions of the Buddha at all. The cogency of this contention would not be affected by whether pre-CE images of the Buddha’s person are found or not found.

I think I have to disagree with her viewpoint. The aniconic religious art indicates clearly a representation of the Buddha.

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Just returning to this, as I review the text I am learning that some of these translations are not quite right.

This is actually arched top of the foot, i.e. his foot is curved on top.

The pali is “stretched”, described as “abundantly long”. I think it means literally his ankles were stretched out long.

Actually calves like an antelope. I think it means the hind legs of the Indian blackbuck, which has long calves relative to the thighs.

To the knees.

Covered in foreskin

It is only possible to reconcile the proportions if we assume that both his arms are extra long, and his ankles and calves were extra long. Then he could have equal proportions and still touch his knees. You know, like a proper alien!

? No idea what this is, but it’s not in the 32 marks.

I’ll stop there, but anyway for an more accurate list and discussion, see my translations at DN 14 and DN 30. (Currently writing notes for DN 30).


Hello friend.

We are all aware of 31 realms of existence. Every realm above human realm is said to be more beautiful than the present one. Human realm is where you can get a ticket to all above realms(heavenly and Brahma realms) and also below realms(lower realms) through deeds.

Buddha was said to be having those 32 signs as mark of superior being and not someone strange being like alien or like that.

How are you so sure that we as humans have highest imaginative capacity and we can imagine things exactly without erring? Just remember your childhood. As a child who just became aware of imagination, our imagination was very rudimentary. It developed as we grew older. Still we are humans. We cannot imagine things perfectly.

If you consider yourself to be able to perfectly imagine things based on just description then off course you will not imagine properly.

Now you forgot read the complete syllabus(80 minor signs) and jumped on rudimentary conclusion of reptilian body structure.

Buddha had 32 major signs of great man along with 80 minor signs of great man. Imagining his body with only 32 signs is like studying half of the syllabus and appearing for exam. Result will be off course failure.

Even having studied the thirty-two signs of a great man, we find that they are not enough to let us explain/imagine all the things related to appearance of lord buddha. What is missing is the following eighty sub-characteristics:

1) beautiful fingers and toes
2) well-proportioned fingers and toes
3) tube-shaped fingers and toes
4) finger- and toenails have rosy tint
5) finger- and toenails slightly upturned at tip (elegant)
6) finger- and toenails smooth & rounded without ridges (not like ours which have lines and rough parts)
7) ankles and wrists rounded and undinted (you don’t see the bones)
8) both feet equal (left and right feet are the same)
9) gait beautiful like a king-elephant
10) gait stately like king-lion
11) gait beautiful like that of a swan
12) gait majestic like royal ox
13) right foot leads when walking (not just a habit, but automatic for him)
14) knees have no (visible) kneecaps (thus there are know kneecaps to be painful when meditating)
15)comportment of a great man
16) navel without blemish
17) deep-shaped abdomen
18) clockwise marks on abdomen (sometimes represented as a swastika on the chest of the Buddha)
19) thighs rounded like banana sheaf (like a Burmese pagoda)
20) both arms shaped like elephant’s trunk (but without the wrinkles)
21) lines on palms have rosy tint
22) skin is thick or thin as it should be
23) skin unwrinkled
24) body spotless and without lumps
25) body unblemished above and below
26) body absolutely free of impurities
27) strength of 1,000 crore elephants or 100,000 crore men (Perhaps you have heard the story of when as a boy the Buddha found an elephant carcase which had been left lying at the side of the path by Devadatta, and which had been cleared to one side by Ananda? Even as a child he could without trouble throw it over the wall by its trunk)
28) protruding nose (more like an Aryan than an Asian)
29) nose well-proportioned
30) upper & lower lips equal in size and have rosy-tint
31) teeth unblemished and with no plaque
32) teeth long like polished conch
33) teeth smooth and unridged
34) all five sense-organs are unblemished
35) all four canine teeth are crystal and rounded
36) face long and beautiful
37) radiant cheeks
38) lines on palms are deep
39) lines on palms are long
40) lines on palms are straight
41) lines on palms are have rosy-tint
42) body has halo of light extending around him for two metres
43) cheek cavity is fully rounded and smooth
44) well-proportioned eyelids
45) five nerves of eyes unblemished (it is said that his eyesight was exceptionally good – he could distinguish a mustard seed in the dark at a distance of 16 kilometres)
46) tips of bodily hair neither curved nor bent
47) rounded tongue
48) tongue soft and with rosy-tint
49) ears long like lotus petals (long – but not so long as depicted in some Buddha images where they flap down over the shoulders)
50) earholes beautifully rounded
51) sinews and tendons don’t stick out anywhere
52) sinews and tendons deeply embedded in flesh
53) topknot is like a crown
54) forehead well-proportioned in length and breadth
55) forehead rounded and beautiful
56) eyebrows arched like a bow
57) fine hair on eyebrows
58) hair of eyebrows lies flat (not like the hair in other places which sticks up)
59) large brows
60) brows reach outward corner of eyes
61) skin fine throughout body
62) whole body abundant with (signs of) fortune
63) body always radiant
64) body always refreshed like a lotus flower
65) body exquisitely sensative to touch
66) scent of body like sandalwood
67) all bodily hair consistent (not in tufts or of different lengths)
68) fine bodily hair
69) breath always fine
70) mouth always beautiful like a smile
71) scent of mouth like a lotus flower (not only the Buddha but also many of his disciples – not like some people who have to use special products such as Listerine to take the unpleasant smell away)
72) hair has the colour of a dark shadow
73) hair is strongly scented
74) hair has the scent of a white lotus
75) curled hair (his hair would always stay the right length for a monk without him having to shave it)
76) hair doesn’t turn grey
77) fine hair
78) untangled hair
79) hair with long curls
80) topknot is as if crowned with flower garland

Now if you include above 80 signs, you will definitely not reach above conclusion of reptilian image.

Ordinary human’s body is like a plain mountain without any trees or greenary. 32 signs are like mountain with various beautiful trees covering it. 80 signs are like various beautiful nunerou flowers of those trees which further enhance the beauty and majestic ness of that mountain.

Now try to imagine Buddha’s physical appearance with above information. I am 100% sure you will not reach that alien reptilian conclusion which is like a result of child’s imagination.

I will share the link for 80 minor marks -

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There’s a fair amount of variation between different lists of the 32 signs. They describe a bit differently, and different traditions appear swap out signs from the list of 80 secondary signs that @saurabh has shared. The OP’s list is one I’ve yet to see so far, but it’s probably from a Chinese source. They sometimes added “deer king” to antelope.

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This is one of the common marks of the Buddha mentioned at least in some other Buddhist traditions. I’m just checking, and it looks like it’s at least one of the 80 minor marks.

This particular type of mark, which is commonly translated as aura or halo (i.e. supernatural) appears in Indian physiognomy in relation to a glowing or shining complexion (i.e. healthy skin). Oils like butter could be added to the body to enhance this healthy glow, but not to completely replace the natural oils of the skin.

Because these are physiognomy lists, there are a lot of descriptions that are exaggerations, or comparing features to those of animals.

I have found a image which I am sure may not be the exact image of Buddha but I am sure it has minimum mistakes. But we can say he was more majestic than that. Bellow it is.