In Hinduism, a murti, or murthi, or vigraha or pratima typically refers to an image that expresses a Divine Spirit (murta). Meaning literally "embodiment", a murti is a representation of a divinity, made usually of stone, clay or pottery, wood, or metal, which serves as a means through which a divinity may be worshiped. Hindus consider a murti worthy of serving as a focus of divine worship only after the divine is invoked in it for the purpose of offering worship. The depiction of the divinity must reflect the gestures and proportions outlined in religious tradition.
A murti is a means of communication with the god or Brahman in Hinduism. Murti is a Sanskrit term which is meant to point to the transcendent "otherness" of the divine; therefore the word "murti" cannot be substituted with or translated as statue or idol without losing the underlying concept's inherent meaning and taking on unrelated connotations.
Puja of murtis is recommended, especially for Dvapara Yuga, and described in Pancharatra texts. Only after achieving remarkable expertise in the portrayal of the Buddha figure and of animal and human, did Indian stonemasons turn to producing images of the orthodox 'Hindu' deities.
Example via www.ramdass.org: Manifestation of Murtis