The statues and figurines of Buddha we see all around us are the statues of Shakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama the "Buddha" who was born in Kapilavastu, an ancient province of Nepal, as the son of king Suddhodana and Queen Maya Devi. The Queen had few auspicious dreams before the lord entered her womb from the Tushita heaven.
As Prince Siddhartha Gautama came to the age 28 he renounced the kingdom and lived the life of a mendicant. He sought and attained enlightenment in six years under a pipala tree and became a Buddha, in Bodhgaya. After enlightenment he uttered this stanza: "Through many births I have passed the builder of the house of pain is gone and I am free from any more births"
Shakyamuni Buddha preached dharma through out his life and the light of the world had gone out and lord passed away into Nirvana at an old age of over 80.
Talking of Buddha statues & figurines , the statues of Buddha are found in a wide variety of poses, the most common of all the type is the sitting Buddha statue in a lotus position. The posture displays inner and outer balance and tranquillity. In meditating Buddha statues the posture of the hand or the mudra, have the fingers of the right hand resting lightly on the left as they lay in the enlightened one's lap and legs are crossed in a Lotus position. Many Buddha statues sit on a pedestal in a lotus blossom which represents the enlightened being or emptiness.
Another posture is the Abhaya mudra in which the right hand is raised and is the gesture of dispelling fear. Statues calling the earth to bear witness are represented by postures where the right hand is touching the earth below, which displays total faith. And, finally the reclining Buddha statue represents Buddha's passage into death or Nirvana, as the disciples, angles and gods bade farewell to never returner Shakyamuni Buddha. Medicine Buddha statue symbolizes the belief that Buddha parted knowledge on medicine along with spiritual guidance.
The Mudras or postures of Hands of the Shakyamuni Buddha figures are either in abhaya (Fearlessness), Dhyana (meditation), Dharmachakra Parivartana (turning of the wheel of Dharma or doctrine or religion) and Bhumisparsa (calling the earth goddess to witness the touching of the earth by the right hand)
Buddha statues are hand made and thus they are artisan's labour of Love, or a loving heart and moving hands giving them shapes in definite postures. The earliest representations of Buddha were mounds erected on the relics of Buddha, also known as "Stupa". The external decorations on the stupas display the entire life of the Buddha from leaving home to enlightenment and to Mahaparinirvana.
The largest and tallest Buddha statues were found in Afghanistan which were colossal in size and have been much recently destroyed by the Taliban's. The Statues of Buddha in Nepal are generally made out of gold, granite, bronze, copper, brass, resin, silver, ceramic, wood, etc. And, they are put on sale in a fine work of display in Thamel and Durbar Square in the ancient city of Kathmandu in Nepal or sold in various online Buddha Statues store like http://www.himalayacrafts.com at wholesale or retail. The standing Buddha statues with flowering robes is also common. And Buddha heads and hands are also found for sale.
All these meanings behind the Buddha statues bring forth the memories of the enlightened master who once walked upon this earth 2500 years ago. In other words they are reminiscences of the "Grand Master".