What do the many heads the Buddha has represent?
Marichi is a deity with many properties. The name Marichi translates to "A ray of Light." Marichi is the Buddhist goddess of dawn, because she drives away the darkness of night as well as the spiritual darkness caused by ignorance and fear. Like many Buddhist deities, she is usually depicted with many hands and faces, each representing a different ability or characteristic. The boar, which is the face on the left side of her head for example, is admired in Asia for its tenacity. Her gentle character however is associated with her property as the protector who removes obstacles and brings great pleasure.
Why does this figure have three heads?
Marichi, like many Buddhist deities, is usually depicted with many hands and faces, each representing a different ability or characteristic. The boar face, for example, is admired in Asia for its tenacity. Her mood can be either peaceful or wrathful, which is the reason for the front-facing calm face, and the side-facing more fierce face, respectively.
Can you tell me more about why Indian deities are portrayed with so many arms? Is it considered beautiful or slightly creepy/uncanny by people native to that culture?
It is not considered creepy by people who practice religions with this common iconography. Hindu and Buddhist gods often have multiple arms as a way of showing that they can do many things at once. Many arms also represent the fact that they can interact with many different people, move in many directions at once, etc. at the same time. It is also a representation of powerfulness.
I've always wondered about these different faces in one statue.
In representations of Buddhist deities, each face shows a different ability or characteristic.
Marichi can be either peaceful or angry. That is the reason for the front-facing calm face, and the fierce face. And the symbol of a boar on one face represents determination.
This one is the goddess of dawn.