Notes About The Images
Images of Buddha or other famous individuals in Buddhism are utilized as symbols of respect and/or objects of devotion for Buddhist disciples. In the earliest tradition, no figures of Buddha were crafted for fear that such a gesture would develop into a cult of personality at best or a deification of Buddha at worst. Such a position is consistent with Buddha's repeated statements that he was just a man. In time, perhaps as early as the reign of King Kanisha(100 A.D.), as Buddha's absence was felt deeply and in similarity with other Indian religious traditions, Buddha-figures gradually began to appear, in both Theravada and Mahayana art. With the development of the Vajrayana tradition, an even greater emphasis developed around various Buddhist images, reflecting the significant role of the symbolism in the Tantric tradition. Within several hundred years, images could be found extensively in cave temples, monasteries, and other sites.
(Adapted from Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism)