Symbols and art

A nimbus (Lat. ‘cloud’) refers to a luminous cloud or halo that surrounds the head or the whole body of a depicted figure. In art, the nimbus distinguishes particularly powerful or spiritually advanced figures such as kings, gods, saints, or enlightened beings.

In Buddhist art, buddhas, bodhisattvas, deities, and great masters are embellished with a nimbus in the shape of a disc of light or a wreath of rays or flames. The motif probably reaches back to ancient Persian art where it symbolized a ruler’s unsurpassed ‘glory’.