13th century copy of the Taima Mandala. Japan, Kamakura period.

Buddhist art – The devotional artistic practices

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Buddhist is the artistic practices that are influenced by Buddhism.

It includes art media which depict Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other entities, notable Buddhist figures, both historical and mythical, narrative scenes from the lives of all of these, and other graphic aids to practice, as well as physical objects associated with Buddhist practice, such as vajras, bells, stupas and Buddhist temple architecture.

Table of Contents

Origin of Buddhist art

Buddhist art originated on the Indian subcontinent following the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama, 6th to 5th century BCE, and thereafter evolved by contact with other cultures as it spread throughout Asia and the world.

Initially the emphasis was on devotional statues of the historical Buddha, as well as detailed scenes in relief of his life, and former lives, but as the Buddhist pantheon developed devotional images of bodhisattvas and other figures became common subjects in themselves in Northern Buddhist art, rather than just attendants of the Buddha, and by the late first millenium came to predominate.

Buddhist artworks & places of discovery

This is a non-exhaustive list of some famous Buddhist artworks and places of discovery.


A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.

A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.


Paubhā is a traditional religious painting made by the Newar people of Nepal. depict deities, mandalas or monuments, and are used to help the practitioner meditate. The Tibetan equivalent is known as Thangka.

Chandavaram Buddhist site

Buddha statue, now at the Hussain Sagar, Hyderabad.

is an ancient Buddhist site in Chandavaram village in Prakasam district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

In 1985, a project called the “Buddha Poornima Project” was proposed.

Under this project, the world’s tallest standing monolith statue of Buddha was to be erected on the site. Made out of granite, the statue was carved by 200 sculptors in two years and on completion it weighed 440 tonnes with an overall height of 17 metres (56 ft).

However, the Buddha statue was transported to city of Hyderabad in 1988 instead, where it was erected in 1992 in the Hussain sagar lake and stands today.


Head of the Buddha, crowned by the ushnisha, 3rd century, Hadda, Afghanistan.

is the crown protuberance of a Buddha, often topped with a jewel-like ornament; one of the 32 major marks of a Buddha.

Buddhist painting

, Butsuga (仏画) in a broad sense, refers to Buddhist paintings in general, including Buddhist biographies, Jataka tales, Pure Land variant paintings, Raigō, Buddhist narrative paintings such as the Two Rivers White Path and Six Paths paintings, Ancestors biographies, Emaki, E-toki, Ancestors drawings, Chinsō portraits of Zen monks, and portraits of ordinary monks. Chinsō, portraits of Zen monks, and portraits of ordinary monks.


Stupa is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the State of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located in 46 kilometres (29 mi) north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India, and an important monument of Indian Architecture. It was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the chhatri, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics. The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant of nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her and Ashoka’s wedding. In the 1st century BCE, four elaborately carved toranas and a balustrade encircling the entire structure were added. The Sanchi Stupa built during Mauryan period was made of bricks. The composite flourished until the 11th century.


is the small dot on the forehead of the Buddha, actually a white hair tuft, and one of the 32 major marks of a Buddha.


, or Graeco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between Hellenistic culture and Buddhism, which developed between the fourth century BCE and the fifth century CE in Bactria and the Gandhara. It was a cultural consequence of a long chain of interactions begun by Greek forays into India from the time of Alexander the Great. The Macedonian satraps were then conquered by the Mauryan Empire, under the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka would convert to Buddhism and spread the religious philosophy throughout his domain, as recorded in the Edicts of Ashoka.


The is popularly referred to as the wheel of life. This term is also translated as wheel of cyclic existence or wheel of becoming.

It is found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region, to help ordinary people understand Buddhist teachings.

It is used in Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.

Greco-Buddhist art

The or Gandhara art of the north Indian subcontinent is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between Ancient Greek art and Buddhism.


, are the guardian deities of the Buddhist temple (Sangharama), equivalent to the Taoism “realm master deity”, and is also the Buddhist Dharmapala. It is dedicated to protecting the monastery area and the four disciples.

Sikri stupa

The is a work of Buddhist art dated to 3rd-4th century from the Kushan period in Gandahara, consisting of 13 narrative panels that tell the story of Buddha. Modern restoration accounts for their order in the Lahore Museum. The restoration began while Harold Arthur Deane was still assigned to the North-West Frontier Province in what was then British India. Three photos taken around 1890 show the order of the panels in the earliest restoration.

Sonari Stupas

Sonari is the archaeological site of an ancient monastic complex of Buddhist stupas. The site, positioned on a hill, is located about 10 km southwest of Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, India.


or Dhauligiri is a hill located on the banks of the river Daya, 8 km south of Bhubaneswar in Odisha. It’s known for “Dhauli Santi Stupa”, a peace pagoda monument which witnesses the great Kalinga War built by Japan Budhha Sangha and Kalinga Nippon Budhha Sangha.


Nanzo-in is a Shingon sect Buddhist temple in Sasaguri, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is notable for its bronze statue of a reclining Buddha, said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.

is a Shingon sect Buddhist temple in Sasaguri, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is notable for its bronze statue of a reclining Buddha, said to be the largest bronze statue in the world.

Luang pho phet

Luang pho phet

The is a type of image of the Buddha found in Thailand. A luang pho phet depicts the Buddha in the Diamond Lotus Position.

The Butsuzōzui (仏像図彙) is a collection of Buddhist iconographic sketches said to have been painted by Hidenobu Tosa of the Tosa school. Originally published in 1690 in five volumes, it comprises more than 800 sketches, inspired by the Chinese style of paintings called Paihuo, with the Buddhist icons divided into five parts and further categorized. In Edo-period Japan the Butsuzōzui compendium was the most widely distributed source for information on Buddhist and Shinbutsu deities.

Naga Prok attitude

(Thai: ปางนาคปรก; RTGS: pang nak prok), translated as “sheltered-by-the-naga Buddha”, is an attitude of Buddha in Burmese, Khmer, Lao and Thai art of which the seated Buddha in either the , or , is sheltered by or covered with a multi-headed nāga. The naga, whose name is Mucalinda, usually has seven or nine heads and appeared to coil the base of the Buddha statue.

Buddhist architecture

Buddhist religious architecture developed in the Indian subcontinent. Three types of structures are associated with the religious architecture of early Buddhism: monasteries (viharas), places to venerate relics (stupas), and shrines or prayer halls, which later came to be called temples in some places.

Buddhas of Bamiyan

The were two 6th-century monumental statues, Salsal and Shahmama, which were carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Carbon dating of the structural components of the Buddhas has determined that the smaller 38 m (125 ft) “Eastern Buddha” was built around 570 AD, and the larger 55 m (180 ft) “Western Buddha” was built around 618 AD, which would date both to the time when the Hephthalites ruled the region.

Meditation attitude

Meditation attitude or known as meditating Buddha is an attitude of Buddha in Thai, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, and other Buddhist countries art, of which the seated Buddha is putting both of his upturned hands on the lap, usually putting his right hand on the top. His eyes are closed. The attitude refers to an episode where he reached enlightenment, meditating in this posture under the Bodhi tree. Other names in Thai are “reaching enlightment attitude” or the “first attitude” The attitude has another version called “Diamond Mediation attitude”, which the positions of his feet differs from this one.

U Thong Style

The is one of the definitive styles for Buddha icons which developed in Thailand (Siam) in the southern capital of Ayutthaya. There are three distinct periods for the style, 12th to 13th century, 13th to 14th century and 13th to the 15th century, with some obvious overlap.

Maravijaya attitude

Māravijaya attitude or mara vichai is an attitude of Buddha in Thai art of which the seated Buddha is putting his hand in the relax posture towards to the ground, loosely holding his knee. The other hand is on his lap. His eyes, sometimes closed, look down to the ground. The gesture of the hand reaching the ground is called bhumisparshamudra, which also refers to the attitude as well. The gesture refers to the episode which the Buddha calling the earth to witness.

Leela attitude

is an attitude of Buddha in Thai art of which the Buddha is stepping with his right foot and his right hand swinging and the other hand put towards to the front. The attitude is sometimes called the Walking Buddha.

Mes Aynak

, also called Mis Ainak or Mis-e-Ainak, was a major Buddhist settlement 40 km (25 mi) southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, located in a barren region of Logar Province. The site is also the location of Afghanistan’s largest copper deposit.

Paradise of Maitreya

The is a wall painting created by Zhu Haogu during China’s Yuan Dynasty. The painting was originally housed in the Xinghua Si Temple of Xiaoning, Shanxi. During the 1920s and 1930s, it was disassembled and moved to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) of Toronto, Canada, where it remains today. Museum officials have undertaken a series of restorations to preserve and stabilize the painting. Currently, it can be found in the museum’s “” as part of the Far Eastern Collection and is described as one of its must-see Iconic Objects.

Mathura lion capital

The is an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital from Mathura in Northern India, dated to the first decade of the 1st century CE. It was consecrated under the rule of Rajuvula, one of the Northern Satraps of the region of Mathura.

Sambas Treasure

The is a hoard of ancient gold and silver buddhist sculptures found near the town of Sambas in west Borneo that now form part of the British Museum’s collection. Dating from 8th–9th centuries AD, they pre-date the coming of Islam to the Indonesian archipelago by four centuries and were probably made in Java.

Mingun Bell

The is a bell located in Mingun, Sagaing Region, Myanmar. It is located approximately 11 km (6.8 mi) north of Mandalay on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River. It was the heaviest functioning bell in the world at several times in history.

Aniconism in Buddhism

Since the beginning of the serious study of the history of Buddhist art in the 1890s, the earliest phase, lasting until the 1st century CE, has been described as aniconic; the Buddha was only represented through symbols such as an empty throne, Bodhi tree, a riderless horse with a parasol floating above an empty space, Buddha’s footprints, and the wheel.

Sanchi Yakshi Figure

The is a sandstone statue of the Shalabhanjika Yakshi from the ancient Buddhist site of Sanchi in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. One of the earliest Buddhist sculptures from the Indian subcontinent, it has been part of the British Museum’s collection since 1842.

Seated Bodhisattva (left attendant of a triad)

Seated Bodhisattva is a statue of a Bodhisattva belonging to mid-17th century, Joseon dynastic period of Korean peninsula. The statue, made of gilt wood, was originally one of the two attendant Bodhisattva figures that flanked a central Shakyamuni or Amitabha Buddha statue. It is believed that this Bodhisattva was the left attendant Bodhisattva of the triad. The tall ornate crown, oblong face and drapery with cascading folds of the statue indicate that the statue was probably produced in a Buddhist sculpture school in South Jeolla province, Korea. This statue was granted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Mary and Jackson Berke Foundation in 2015.

Sirpur Group of Monuments

are an archaeological and tourism site containing Hindu, Jain and Buddhist monuments from the 5th to 12th centuries in Mahasamund district of the state of Chhattisgarh, India. Located near an eponymous village, it is 78 kilometres (48 mi) east of Raipur, the capital of the state. The site is spread near the banks of the river Mahanadi.

Sutra mound

A is an archaeological site where sūtras were buried underground. In Japanese Buddhism, it is a type of good deed, and was done as a type of puja.


T’aenghwa is a characteristic type of Korean Buddhist visual art. A genre of Buddhist art, the paintings of icons can be on hanging scrolls, or framed pictures, or wall-paintings. T’aenghwa may be small, private and made for indoor display, or large and made for outdoor display. The craft is considered an extension of an earlier tradition of mural painting. There are no manuals that describe t’aenghwa painting, instead, the tradition preserves its models through paper stencils. Though most of the Koryo era t’aenghwa are held in Japanese collections, museums in Berlin, Boston, and Cologne carry some as well.

Taima mandala

The (當麻曼荼羅,綴織当麻曼荼羅図) is an 8th century mandala in Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. It depicts Sukhavati, the western Pure Land, with the Buddha Amitābha in the center. The original copy was made around 763 AD, and is currently kept at Taima-dera temple in Nara. Many copies have been made since, and the original work has degraded considerably.

Takht-e Rostam

or Stupa of Takht-e Rostam is a stupa buddhist monastery complex 2 km south of the town of Haibak. Built in the 3rd-4th century AD while the area was part of the Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom the complex is carved entirely from the bedrock and “consists of five chambers, two of them sanctuaries. One of them has a domed ceiling with an elaborate lotus leaf decoration. On an adjacent hill is the stupa, surmounted by a harmika, with several more rough caves around the base. A hoard of Ghaznavid coins was found by chance in one of the caves.”

Tapa Shotor

, also Tape Shotor or Tapa-e-shotor, was a large Sarvastivadin monastery near Hadda, Afghanistan, and is now an archaeological site. According to archaeologist Raymond Allchin, the site of Tapa Shotor suggests that the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara descended directly from the art of Hellenistic Bactria, as seen in Ai-Khanoum.

The Tenjukoku Shūchō Mandala (天寿国繍帳) is a Japanese work of textile art. It is the oldest known example of embroidery in Japan, dating back to 622 CE. It was created in honour of Prince Shōtoku, one of the earliest proponents of Japanese Buddhism.

Tepe Sardar

, also Tapa Sardar or Tepe-e-Sardar, is an ancient Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan. It is located near Ghazni, and it dominates the Dasht-i Manara plain. The site displays two major artistic phases, an Hellenistic phase during the 3rd to 6th century CE, followed by a Sinicized-Indian phase during the 7th to 9th century.

Tharrawaddy Min Bell

The , also known as the Maha Tissada Gandha Bell, is a large bell located at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). It was donated in 1841 by King Tharrawaddy, of Konbaung Dynasty. The official Pali name of the bell is Maha Tissada Gandha, which means “Great Three-toned Sweet Sound”.

Wardak Vase

The is the name of an ancient globular-shaped buddhist copper vase that was found as part of a stupa relic deposit in the early nineteenth century near Chaki Wardak in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. The importance of the vase lies in the long Kharoshthi inscription, which claims that the stupa contained the relics of the Buddha. Since 1880, the vase has been part of the British Museum’s Asian collection.

Washing the Elephant

is a Yuan or Song Dynasty ink on silk hanging scroll attributed to Li Gonglin. The painting depicts the common scene of Manjushri cleaning the elephant. The painting depicts 8 foreign grooms, 2 foreign observers, four monks, and two Chinese attired in loose robes. The heavy labor is left to foreign grooms. It is in the collection of the Indiana University Art Museum.


In Buddhist texts, is a previous life of Gotama Buddha in which he declares his intention to become a Buddha. Buddhist traditions describe that this takes place when Gotama Buddha is still a Buddha-to-be. Traditions regard Sumedha’s life as the beginning of the spiritual journey leading up to the attainment of Buddhahood by Gotama in his last life, a journey which takes place through many lifetimes. Born in a brahmin family, Sumedha begins to live as an ascetic in the mountains. One day he meets Dīpankara Buddha and offers his own body for him to walk over. During this sacrifice, he makes a vow that he also will be a Buddha in a future lifetime, which is confirmed by Dīpankara through a prophecy.

Khair Khaneh

is an archaeological site located near Kabul, Afghanistan. A Brahmanical Temple was excavated there in the 1930s by Joseph Hackin. The construction of the Khair Khaneh temple itself is dated to 608-630 CE, at the beginning of the Turk Shahis period. Most of the remains, including marble statuettes, date to the 7th–8th century, during the time of the Turk Shahi.

Mahamuni Buddha Temple

The is a Buddhist temple and major pilgrimage site, located southwest of Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma) (Myanmar). The Mahamuni Buddha image is deified in this temple, and originally came from Arakan. It is highly venerated in Burma and central to many people’s lives, as it is seen as an expression of representing the Buddha’s life.


or emaki (絵巻) is an illustrated horizontal narration system of painted handscrolls that dates back to the Nara period in 8th century CE Japan, initially copying its much older Chinese counterparts. Japanese scrolls, however, stood out distinctly during the Heian and Kamakura periods; the term “emakimono” therefore refers only to Japanese painted narrative scrolls.


is an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Bagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas survive.

Bimaran casket

The or Bimaran reliquary is a small gold reliquary for Buddhist relics that was found inside the stupa no.2 at Bimaran, near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.

The Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art is one of four galleries in the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) that are dedicated to Chinese art and archaeology. It contains one of the most important collections of Chinese temple art in the world, including three Yuan Dynasty temple wall paintings from Shanxi Province that adorn the three walls of the Gallery, and several wooden sculptures depicting bodhisattvas from the 12th to the 15th centuries. These are some of the earliest acquisitions and most iconic objects in the ROM.

Bodhisattva statues of Sri Lanka

Although currently a Theravada Buddhism flourishing country, the Mahayana cult of worshipping Bodhisattva statues has existed in ancient Sri Lanka. Archaeological evidences show that Bodhisattva cult had existed as a secondary cult inferior to worship of Buddha during the Anuradhapura period. This can be assumed by the surviving Bodhisattva statues.

Buddha in art

Much Buddhist art uses depictions of the historical Buddha, Gautama Buddha, which are known as Buddharūpa in Sanskrit and Pali. These may be statues or other images such as paintings. The main figure in an image may be someone else who has obtained Buddhahood, or a boddhisattva, especially in the various traditions of Mahayana Buddhism. Other have become increasingly common over the centuries, perhaps now outnumbering images of the historical Buddha.

Buddhapad Hoard

The or Buddam Hoard is a large cache of Buddhist sculptures found near the town of Buddam in Andhra Pradesh, southern India. Since 1905, it has formed an important part of the British Museum’s South Asian collection. Dating from 6th-8th centuries AD, the style of craftsmanship fuses the northern influences of the Gupta period with the southern traditions of the Deccan, which in turn greatly influenced Buddhist art in South East Asia in subsequent centuries.

Buddhas and bodhisattvas in art

The many different varieties of Buddhist art often show buddhas and bodhisattvas, as well as depictions of the historical Buddha, known as Gautama Buddha.

Buddhist art in Japan

Buddhism played an important role in the development of Japanese art between the 6th and the 16th centuries. Buddhist art and Buddhist religious thought came to Japan from China through Korea. Buddhist art was encouraged by Crown Prince Shōtoku in the Suiko period in the sixth century, and by Emperor Shōmu in the Nara period in the eighth century. In the early Heian period, Buddhist art and architecture greatly influenced the traditional Shinto arts, and Buddhist painting became fashionable among wealthy Japanese. The Kamakura period saw a flowering of Japanese Buddhist sculpture, whose origins are in the works of Heian period sculptor Jōchō. During this period, outstanding appeared one after another in the Kei school, and Unkei, Kaikei, and Tankei were especially famous. The Amida sect of Buddhism provided the basis for many popular artworks. Buddhist art became popular among the masses via scroll paintings, paintings used in worship and paintings of Buddhas, saint’s lives, hells and other religious themes. Under the Zen sect of Buddhism, portraiture of priests such as Bodhidharma became popular as well as scroll calligraphy and sumi-e brush painting.

Bunleua Sulilat

was a Thai/Isan/Lao mystic, myth-maker, spiritual cult leader and sculpture artist. He is responsible for creating two religious-themed parks featuring giant fantastic sculptures made of concrete on the banks of the Mekong river near Thai-Lao border: Buddha Park on the Lao side, and Sala Keoku on the Thai side.


A Busshi (仏師) is a Japanese sculptor specializing in Buddha statues.

Chitra (art)

Chitra, also spelled as Citra, is an Indian genre of art that includes painting, sketch and any art form of delineation. The earliest mention of the term Chitra in the context of painting or picture is found in some of the ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism and Pali texts of Buddhism.

Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga , commonly shortened to Chōjū-giga , is a famous set of four picture scrolls, or emakimono, belonging to Kōzan-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan. The Chōjū-giga scrolls are also referred to as Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and Humans in English. Some think that Toba Sōjō created the scrolls; however, it seems clear from the style that more than one artist is involved. The right-to-left reading direction of Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga is traditional in East Asia, and is still common in Japan. Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga is also credited as the oldest work of manga. The scrolls are now entrusted to the Kyoto National Museum and Tokyo National Museum.

Dvaravati art

is a form of artistic work originating from Mon. Dvaravati flourished from the Dvaravati Mon ancient artifacts are in present-day Thailand and Burma, Mon states to the west in southern Myanmar (Burma) and with the Mon state in northern Thailand. Dvaravati experienced political domination by neighbouring peoples on three occasions: in the 10th century, when the Burmese conquered the Mon state of Thaton west of the Tenasserim Yoma; from the 11th to the 13th century, when the Khmer Empire (Cambodia) arose in the east; and finally, in the late 13th century, when Dvaravati was absorbed by the Thai empire.

Encyclopedia of Buddhist Arts

is a set of books that was started by the founder of Fo Guang Shan, Venerable Master Hsing Yun. The project started in 2001 and was completed in March 2013. There are 20 volumes in total and the artwork spans all 5 continents with information from more than 30 countries. The project was made possible with the help of numerous scholars and volunteers, 300 monastics, 140 scholars from 16 different countries, and more than 400 volunteers. Fo Guang Shan has donated copies of the encyclopedia to libraries and academic institutions across the world.

Kushan art

, the art of the Kushan Empire in northern India, flourished between the 1st and the 4th century CE. It blended the traditions of the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, influenced by Hellenistic artistic canons, and the more Indian art of Mathura. Kushan art follows the Hellenistic art of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom as well as Indo-Greek art which had been flourishing between the 3rd century BCE and 1st century CE in Bactria and northwestern India, and the succeeding Indo-Scythian art. Before invading northern and central India and establishing themselves as a full-fledged empire, the Kushans had migrated from northwestern China and occupied for more than a century these Central Asian lands, where they are thought to have assimilated remnants of Greek populations, Greek culture and Greek art, as well as the languages and scripts which they used in their coins and inscriptions: Greek and Bactrian, which they used together with the Indian Brahmi script.

Extermination of Evil

is a set of five paintings depicting traditional Asian deities banishing evil. The paintings are collectively listed as a national treasure of Japan and held at the Nara national museum.

Fondukistan monastery

The was a Buddhist monastery located at the very top of a conical hill next to the Ghorband Valley, Parwan Province, about 117 kilometers northeast of Kabul. The monastery dates to the early 8th century CE, with a terminus post quem in 689 CE obtained through numismatic evidence, so that the Buddhist art of the site has been estimated to around 700 CE. This is the only secure date for this artistic period in the Hindu Kush, and it serves as an important chronological reference point.

Gilt-bronze Maitreya in Meditation (National Treasure No. 78)

The Gilt-bronze Maitreya in Meditation is a gilt-bronze statue of Maitreya seated in meditation and is one of the best known and most highly regarded Korean Buddhist sculptures. Now part of the collection of the National Museum of Korea, it was designated as the 78th national treasure of Korea.

Goryeo Buddhist paintings

” are prominent Korean artworks that are said to have originated in the 13th and 14th centuries. Known for their intricate depiction of Buddhist icons in the form of colossal hanging scrolls, artists made use of vibrant colours and adorned the patterns with gold. Owing to the wide spread following of Buddhism during the Goryeo period, these Buddhist paintings were usually sponsored by the royal families, who used them for ceremonies and funerals. Illustrations often reflected the messages of Pure Land Buddhism or Amidism featuring Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for instance Avalokiteśvara amongst others, who were worshipped by their devotees to achieve the goal of rebirth in the “Pure Land” or paradise.

Great Daruma

The was a monumental portrait created by Japanese artist Hokusai on 5 October 1817. Also known as the Great Bodhidarma, the work is a depiction of Bodhidharma, known in Japan as Daruma, a revered Buddhist monk of the 5th or 6th century. The original artwork was destroyed by the bombing of Nagoya in May 1945.

Guldara stupa

The is not far from the village of Guldara in, Kabul Province, Afghanistan, set on the summit of a high hill at the end of the Valley of Guldara. It appears to have been established in the late 2nd century CE, as it contained six gold coins of the Kushan king Vima Kadphises ruled c. 113-127 CE, the father of Kanishka I, and two from Huvishka, Kanishka’s son, who is thought to have ruled c. 150-190 CE. None of the coins appear very worn, and the two Huvishka coins look to be in almost mint condition.

Gupta art

is the art of the Gupta Empire, which ruled most of northern India, with its peak between about 300 and 480 CE, surviving in much reduced form until c. 550. The Gupta period is generally regarded as a classic peak and golden age of North Indian art for all the major religious groups. Gupta art is characterized by its “Classical decorum”, in contrast to the subsequent Indian medieval art, which “subordinated the figure to the larger religious purpose”.


(괘불), meaning “Large Buddhist Banner Painting,” are extremely large-scale Buddhist scroll paintings found throughout Korea. They are fairly rare, and only 53 were studied between 1986 and 2001. The paintings are typically brought out only rarely for special festivals or holidays such as Buddha’s Birthday or Gwaebul Festivals when they are unrolled and hung from tall poles in the temple courtyard. When not in use, gwaebul are stored in a box behind the altar in a temple hall.

Hadda – Afghanistan

Haḍḍa is a Greco-Buddhist archeological site located ten kilometers south of the city of Jalalabad, in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan.

Halo (religious iconography)

A halo is a crown of light rays, circle or disk of light that surrounds a person in art. It has been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and has at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes. In the religious art of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism among other religions, sacred persons may be depicted with a halo in the form of a circular glow, or flames in Asian art, around the head or around the whole body—this last one is often called a mandorla. Halos may be shown as almost any colour or combination of colours, but are most often depicted as golden, yellow or white when representing light or red when representing flames.


are Japanese Buddhist icons or statues concealed from public view. Hibutsu are generally located within Buddhist temples in shrines called zushi . They are generally unavailable for viewing or worship, although they are brought out for specific religious ceremonies; it is also possible in some cases for the hibutsu to be viewed in exchange for an offering to the temple. Certain hibutsu, such as the wooden statue of Gautama Buddha at Seiryō-ji or the Amida statuary at Zenkō-ji, are almost never displayed, even to initiates of the temples in which they are held. Others are put on public display only rarely, in a ceremony called kaichō .

Ars Buddhica

is a bi-monthly academic journal of Buddhist art, particularly that of Japan. It is published in Japanese by Mainichi Shinbunsha.


(截金) is a Japanese decorative technique used for Buddhist statues and paintings, using gold leaf, silver leaf, or platinum leaf cut into lines, diamonds, and triangles.

Kulu Vase

The is the name of an ancient Buddhist bronze goblet found in the foothills of the Himalayas during the mid-19th century. The importance of the vase lies in the fact that it is one of the oldest metal objects to be decorated in this fashion on the Indian Subcontinent. Since 1880, the vase has been part of the British Museum’s Asian collection.

Yantra tattooing

or Sak Yant is a form of tattooing using Indian yantra designs. It consists of sacred geometrical, animal and deity designs accompanied by Pali phrases that are said to offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other benefits for the bearer. Sak Yant designs originated from the Khmer Empire

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Namkhai Nyingpo Thangka Painting from 19th century

19th century Painting of Namkhai Nyingpo 

'i Nyingpo one of the twenty-five disciples of , is depicted with long-life implements. Other details of this nineteenth-century from Kham suggest from 's story of and Dorje Tso. Namkhai Nyingpo is performing a long-life ritual in this . He holds upraised in the right hand an arrow of and a scepter. In the left hand, a is held close to the heart. In the sky above, at the .

Tibetan Mandala tantric practices & benefits

practices are used to cultivate and generate energy, and to bring about transformation and . Tibetan Mandala as a can be created with a variety of materials commonly including sand, paint or fabric (appliqué). According to the Tibetan the mandala is a tool for working with the energies of the cosmos including : the bodythe mindthe In other words, the mandala can help control inner by accessing and channeling .
A Thai Dhamma wheel at Wat Phothivihan, Tumpat, Kelantan

Buddhist symbolism – From representation to auspiciousness

is the use of to represent certain aspects of the Buddha's (teaching). Early Buddhist symbols which remain important today include the Dharma wheel, the Indian lotus, the three jewels and the Bodhi tree. Anthropomorphic symbolism depicting the Buddha (as well as other figures) became very popular around the first century CE with the arts of Mathura and the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara. New symbols continued to develop into the medieval period, .
Maruyama Ōkyo by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Buddhist artists – The creative Buddha Mind

During the Pre-iconic phase (5th–1st century BCE) artists were reluctant to depict the Buddha anthropomorphically, and developed sophisticated aniconic symbols to avoid doing so (even in narrative scenes where other human figures would appear). This tendency remained as late as the 2nd century CE in the southern parts of India, in the of the Amaravati School. In Tibet the vast majority of surviving artworks created before the mid-20th century are dedicated to the depiction .

All you need to know about Thangkas

A , variously spelt as thangka, tangka, thanka, or tanka, is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. Thangkas are traditionally kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, mounted on a textile backing somewhat in the style of Chinese scroll paintings, with a further silk cover on the front. So treated, thangkas can last a long time, but because of their delicate nature, .
Over life-size figure of the bodhisattva Padmapani, cave 1, Ajanta Caves, 5th century

Different types of Buddhist paintings

Buddhist originated in the north of the Indian subcontinent, in modern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the earliest survivals dating from a few centuries after the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama from the 6th to 5th century BCE. are visual art produced in the context of Buddhism. It includes depictions of Gautama Buddha and other Buddhas and bodhisattvas, notable Buddhist figures both historical and mythical, narrative scenes from their lives, , and .
Dombi Heruka or Dombipa was one of the eighty-four mahasiddhas and student of Virupa. He is usually depicted riding a tiger and holding a snake.

Mahasiddhas – The Siddhi of perfection

is a term for someone who embodies and cultivates the "siddhi of perfection". A siddha is an individual who, through the practice of sādhanā, attains the realization of siddhis, psychic and spiritual abilities and powers. Mahasiddhas were practitioners of yoga and tantra, or tantrikas. The Mahasiddhas are the founders of Vajrayana traditions and lineages such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra. There is a symbiotic relationship between Tantric Buddhist communities and the Buddhist monastic university such as Nalanda .
Greek scroll supported by Indian Yaksas, Amaravati, 3rd century AD

Indian Buddhist sculptures – The sculptural art of enlightenment

Buddhist sculptures originated in the north of the Indian subcontinent with the earliest survivals dating from a few centuries after the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama from the 6th to 5th century BCE. In India, Buddhist sculptures flourished and co-developed with Hindu and Jain sculptures, with cave temple complexes built together, each likely influencing the other. Although India had a long sculptural tradition and a mastery of rich iconography, the Buddha was never represented in human .
Ubosot of Wat Nimmanoradi, Bangkok

Buddhist art & architecture in Thailand

is the and architecture of Buddhist temples in Thailand. Temples are known as wats, from the Pāḷi vāṭa, meaning "enclosure." A temple has an enclosing wall that divides it from the secular world. Wat architecture adheres to consistent principles. A wat, with few exceptions, consists of two parts: the Phutthawat and the Sangkhawat. Thai Theravada Buddhism and Hindu cultures merged, and Hindu elements were introduced into Thai iconography. Popular figures .
Interior of the vihara of the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat

Buddha statues in Thailand – iconography & examples

Buddha statues in Thailand are typically made of stone, wood, clay, or metal cast. While there are such figures in all regions where Buddhism is commonly practiced, the appearance, composition and position of the statues vary greatly from country to country. In Thailand the statues of Buddha recall specific episodes during his travels and teachings that are familiar to the Thai according to an iconography with specific rules. .