Der traditionelle Ursprung der Skulpturen und Bemalungen der buddhistischen Figuren war, dass sie der Meditation helfen und gleichzeitig die unterschiedlichen Stadien der Spiritualität repräsentieren sollten.
Traditionally, paintings or sculptures of Buddhist icons were created to remind the different states of spirit and used as supports for meditation. But the philosophic symbolism of iconography get lost in the practice of tantric forms of Tibetan Buddhism practised in Mongolia, with the representation of gods who had the power to respond to the faithfuls' prayers.
Icons are sticked up in sight in temples and houses, and offerings of incense, sweets, butter, seeds or money are placed outside. Mongolian people think that each divinity has specific skills, like protecting from illness or granting a long life. Each person has his/her own "protecting god" according to his/her date of birth.
Among deities most commonly represented in Mongolian paintings and sculptures, we find Buddhas of past, present and future. Avalokiteshvara (Janraisig) represents compassion, Manzushri represents wisdom, and Tara represents the feminine side of compassion. Janraiseg and Manzushri are the two bodhisattvas who reached perfect wisdom and virtue, but they go on helping others by taking their pain before they enter Nirvana.
In the Buddhist iconography, each divinty is represented doing typical gestures with its hands, which symbolizes its activity or state of mind.