Lokapala with the Vara Mudra hand gesture
The image shows a sculptural relief depiiting Lokapala carved on the inner wall of the balustrade surrounding the inner sanctum of the Shiva Temple in Prambanan, a Hindu temple complex located 11 miles northeast of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Lokapala (means guardian of the world in Sanskrit) is seated on a beautifully decorated throne (partly damaged). Lokapalas are also guardians of the directions. For example, Indra is a lokapala who guards the east direction.
Lokapala is in a sitting position with the Vara Mudra gesture, i.e., the right-hand palm is open upwards with the fingers slightly pointing downwards. This gesture indicates the person is handing out varas, which in Sanskrit means boons. Therefore, the varamudra gesture symbolizes charity and compassion. Typically, statues facing south have the Vara Mudra gestures, implying that the Lokapala guards the south direction.
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