Original Buddhas

The Halo - Religious Iconography

The Halo - Religious Iconography

View our collection of Buddha statues in our gallery

In most of the religion, the saint people are shown with a white circle of light around their head. A halo is also known as nimbusglory, or gloriole. In most of the religion such as Ancient GreekBuddhismAncient RomeChristianity, and Hinduism, and other religions, a halo was used to represent the holy figures as well as great rulers and heroes. Sometimes a halo is also depicted as flames in Asian art either around the head or around the whole body. In various culture and religion, a halo is shown in almost all colors but a halo is mostly shown in golden, yellow, white, and red when flames are depicted. Halo has been in use in the Western and Asian art for more than thousand years. The use of a halo was at its peak during the era of Egyptian and ChristianA Halo was also popular in the ancient Asian art of IndiaTibet, and China.

Halo in Ancient Greece and Rome


According to ancient Greek historya halo was used to describe a circle of lights around the head of heroes of ancient Greece. In ancient Greece, many spiritual characters were depicted with a halo such as PerseusLyssa (figure of madness), Sphinx (Sea demon), Thetis (the sea-nymph) and the Sun God Helios. Most of the Greek Gods were not depicted with a halo. The only Greek gods who were depicted with a halo were HeliosGoddess of Dawn (Eos) and Eos’s son Eosphorous.
Halo was quite popular in ancient art of Rome. In Late 2nd Century AD, Apollo Helios was depicted with a halo in the ancient city of RomeThysdrus. According to Roman historyHalo first appeared in the culture of Hellenistic Rome and Greece. Halo was particularly popular in mosaic, an art of creating images. Another great mosaic piece was the depiction of Alexander the Great with a light of Halo around his head.

Halo in Ancient art of Asia

Buddha heads

The halo as well as aureola is quite popular in Indian art as well as Chinese artA halo is often used to depict Buddhist iconography. The ancient depictions of Lord Buddha often show Gautama Buddha with a halo. But some Buddhist texts mentioned that Lord Buddha never had a halo around his head. These texts say that Lord Buddha emitted rays of light (of different color like blue, yellow, red and white) during the time of nirvana and ParinirvanaHalo was also in practice in ancient JapaneseChinese and Tibetan Buddhism. The Haloes were mostly used to depict Amitabha Buddha and others in Buddhist art of Japanese and Chinese Buddhism. Various Buddhist deities in Tibetan Buddhism such as Padmasambhava and Milarepa are also shown with Haloes around their head. The color of Haloes has their own meaning like the orange halo represented Buddhist monks, green colored halo represented circle of light around Lord Buddha head and other colors represented the elevated beings in BuddhismTheravada Buddhism and Jainism neglected the use of Halo in their art for many centuries but later adopted the use of Halo.
The earliest appearance of the halo in Asian art occurred in early 1st century AD. The kings and rulers of ancient Kushan Empire were the earliest to use Halo in their coins and in their art. It is said that the use of nimbus may have originated from Kushan Empire in Central Asia and later the use of Halo became quite popular in many religions of AsiaHalos are also found in Islamic art but in the form of flames. The flames were used to represent Prophet Muhammad and other sacred figure lead by Muhammad for prayer.

Halo in Christianity

The use of a halo was widely used with the rise in Christianity. According to Christian traditionJesus Christ was first shown with a nimbus around his head in 4th Century AD. Later the use of Halo became popular and was used to depict other saints and spiritual characters such Virgin Mary and other royal people. Jesus Christ was depicted with circular Halo around his head whereas Virgin Mary was shown with a full body Halo also known as Aureole.

Share this page

View our Buddha head statues in our gallery

Andesite stone Buddha head

750 euro

Special antique bronze early-Ayutthaya Buddha head

5,750 euro

Special antique marble Burmese Buddha head

5,200 euro

Special large antique marble Buddha head

8,500 euro
arrow-right keyboard_arrow_right arrow-down chevron-down keyboard_arrow_down chevron-up arrow-left keyboard_arrow_left close menu search twitter facebook youtube-play linkedin envelope instagram google-plus pinterest whatsapp heart-o Wishlist share file-pdf-o printer trash