The oldest statues of deities in the Rijksmuseum are from Asia, and stem from the tradition of Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhist statues as well as handscrolls depict the historical Buddha, the five wisdom Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas in various stages of enlightenment.
This situation is different in the artistic representations of Hinduism, a polytheistic religion, with Shiva and Vishnu as the leading deities. Artists portrayed the Hindu divinities in their various incarnations as strongly idealized human figures with unusual physical features and attributes, for instance Ganesh with the head of an elephant or Shiva with his many arms. Moreover, they can assume different forms and use appropriate poses and gestures to make themselves seem benevolent or, conversely, frightening. The more important the deity, the more manifestations of it there are.