Different types of Buddhist architecture
The development of Buddhist religious architecture occurred in the Indian subcontinent, and included three main structures: viharas (monasteries), stupas (places to honor relics), and shrines or temples (later used for prayer).
Table of Contents
- 1 - Early Buddhist Architecture
- 2 - The Evolution of East Asian architecture
- 3 - Glossary of Buddhist architectural structures
- 3.1 - Stupa
- 3.2 - Buddhist temple
- 3.3 - Vihāra
- 3.4 - Pagoda
- 3.5 - Chaitya
- 3.6 - Vikramashila
- 3.7 - Mahavihara
- 3.8 - Torana
- 3.9 - Bharhut
- 3.10 - Wat
- 3.11 - Ordination hall
- 3.12 - Buddhist Texts Library
- 3.13 - Vajrasana – Bodh Gaya
- 3.14 - Stone lantern
- 3.15 - Nio
- 3.16 - Shanmen
- 3.17 - Pillars of Ashoka
- 3.18 - Hall of Guru
- 3.19 - Thai temple art and architecture
- 3.20 - Hall of Four Heavenly Kings
- 3.21 - Bonshō
- 3.22 - Komainu
- 3.23 - Mon (architecture)
- 3.24 - Pekada
- 3.25 - Prang (architecture)
- 3.26 - Rōmon
- 3.27 - Sanctuary of Truth
- 3.28 - Arhat Hall
- 3.29 - Sandakada pahana
- 3.30 - Sanmon
- 3.31 - Setchūyō
- 3.32 - Shichidō garan
- 3.33 - Shōrō
- 3.34 - Sōmon
- 3.35 - Three hares
- 3.36 - Tokyō (architecture)
- 3.37 - Valabhi University
- 3.38 - Wayō
- 3.39 - Ōbaku Zen architecture
- 3.40 - Main Hall (Japanese Buddhism)
- 3.41 - Niōmon
- 3.42 - Havitta
- 3.43 - Daibutsuyō
- 3.44 - Dharani pillar
- 3.45 - Dharma Hall
- 3.46 - Dō (architecture)
- 3.47 - Drum tower (Chinese Buddhism)
- 3.48 - Free Life Pond
- 3.49 - Gavaksha
- 3.50 - Hall of Bhaisajyaguru
- 3.51 - Hall of Guanyin
- 3.52 - Hall of Kshitigarbha
- 3.53 - Hall of Sangharama Palace
- 3.54 - Hall of Shanmen
- 3.55 - Indo-Corinthian capital
- 3.56 - Nijūmon
- 3.57 - Japanese pagoda
- 3.58 - Kairō
- 3.59 - Kataraya
- 3.60 - Katōmado
- 3.61 - Kizil Caves
- 3.62 - Korawakgala
- 3.63 - Kyōzō
- 3.64 - Madol Kurupawa
- 3.65 - Mahavira Hall
- 3.66 - Bell tower (Chinese Buddhism)
- 3.67 - Maya Devi Temple – Lumbini
- 3.68 - Muragala
- 3.69 - Zenshūyō
Early Buddhist Architecture
During the development of Buddhism in ancient India different dynasties, such as the Maurya, Satavahanas, Western Satraps, and Kushans, supported Buddhism and Jainism by building large architectural monuments such as stupas and cave complexes during their reign.
The original purpose of a stupa was to protect and honor the remains of Gautama Buddha. The oldest existing stupa is the relic stupa in Vaishali, Bihar, India.
In accordance with changes in religious practice, stupas were gradually incorporated into chaitya-grihas (prayer halls). These are exemplified by the complexes of the Ajanta Caves and the Ellora Caves (Maharashtra).
The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in Bihar is another well-known example of these architectural changes.
The Evolution of East Asian architecture
Among other very important Buddhist monuments we can find the Pagoda. The pagoda is believed to be an evolution of the Indian stupa.
A pagoda is a type of architectural structure that originated in ancient India, and is typically a tiered tower with multiple eaves, each one smaller than the one below it.
Over time, the stupa began to be more elaborate and decorative, and eventually evolved into the multi-tiered pagoda structure we know today.
This tiered structure is thought to represent the spiritual journey to enlightenment, with each level representing a different stage of development or understanding.
Pagodas also often feature decorative elements such as statues and carvings, which also serve to express the religious or spiritual significance of the structure.
In East Asia, the pagoda has a different architectural style, but the same religious significance. The Chinese and Japanese pagoda are multi-story tower with a spiral staircase inside.
The Chinese pagoda has a square or circular shape at the base and the Japanese pagoda has a pentagon shape at the base.
Glossary of Buddhist architectural structures
This is a compilation of various kinds of Buddhist architectural structures found around the world.
The stupa is a Buddhist funerary mound made of stone, a metal or clay reliquary, and a ritual object symbolically representing the mind of complete enlightenment.
Buddhists visit temples for religious worship. These temples are known by various names such as vihara, chaitya stupa, wat and pagoda, depending on the region and language.
Buddhist temples are seen as a representation of a Buddha’s tranquil and serene environment. They are intended to bring about inner tranquility and outer peace, and their designs may differ depending on the region.
Usually, the temple consists not only of its buildings, but also the surrounding environment.
The Buddhist temples are designed to symbolize 5 elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and Wisdom.
Vihara generally refers to a monastery for Buddhist renunciates. The concept is ancient and in early Sanskrit and Pali texts, it meant any arrangement of space or facilities for pleasure and entertainment. The term evolved into an architectural concept wherein it refers to living quarters for monks with an open shared space or courtyard, particularly in Buddhism. The term is also found in Ajivika, Hindu and Jain monastic literature, usually referring to temporary refuge for wandering monks or nuns during the annual Indian monsoons. In modern Jainism, the monks continue to wander from town to town except during the rainy season (Chaturmas), the term “vihara” refers their wanderings.
A pagoda is a tiered tower with multiple eaves, built in traditions originating as stupa in historic South Asia and further developed in East Asia or with respect to those traditions, common to Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia.
Chaitya is a Sanskrit word stands for Buddhist funerary mound made of stone, a metal or clay reliquary, and a ritual object symbolically representing the mind of complete enlightenment.
Vikramashila was one of the two most important centres of learning in India during the Pala Empire, along with Nalanda. Its location is now the site of Antichak village, Bhagalpur district in Bihar.
Mahavihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a great vihara and is used to describe a monastic complex of viharas.
Torana is the elaborate backrest surrounding the central Buddha subject of paintings and sculpture.
Bharhut is a village located in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh, central India. It is known for its famous relics from a Buddhist stupa.
A wat is a type of Buddhist temple and Hindu temple in Cambodia, Laos, East Shan State, Yunnan and Thailand.
The word wat is borrowed from Sanskrit vāṭa meaning ‘enclosure’.
The ordination hall is a Buddhist building specifically consecrated and designated for the performance of the Buddhist ordination ritual (upasampada) and other ritual ceremonies, such as the recitation of the Patimokkha. The ordination hall is located within a boundary that defines “the space within which all members of a single local community have to assemble as a complete Sangha at a place appointed for ecclesiastical acts .” The constitution of the sīmā is regulated and defined by the Vinaya and its commentaries and sub-commentaries.
Buddhist Texts Library
Buddhist Texts Library is a large building in Chinese Buddhist temples which is built specially for storing The Chinese Buddhist Canon (大藏經). It is encountered throughout East Asia, including in some Japanese Buddhist Kyōzōs (経蔵). The Chinese Buddhist Canon is the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical and was called “all the sutras” (一切經) in the ancient time. With four thousand kinds, it includes Āgama (經), Vinaya (律) and Abhidharma (論) texts. Āgama aretheories made by Buddha for disciples to practice, Vinaya are the rules formulated by Buddha for believers and Abhidharama are the collection of theories explanations by Buddha disciples.
Vajrasana – Bodh Gaya
The Vajrasana, or Enlightenment Throne of the Buddha, is an ancient stone slab located under the Bodhi tree, directly beside the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. The slab is thought to have been placed at Bodhgayā by emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire between 250-233 BCE, at the spot where the Buddha meditated.
Stone lanterns are a type of traditional East Asian lantern made of stone, wood, or metal. Originating in China, stone lanterns spread to Japan, Korea and Vietnam, though they are most commonly found in both China – extant in Buddhist temples and traditional Chinese gardens – and Japan. In Japan, tōrō were originally used only in Buddhist temples, where they lined and illuminated paths. Lit lanterns were then considered an offering to Buddha. Their use in Shinto shrines and also private homes started during the Heian period (794–1185).
Niō (仁王) or Kongōrikishi (金剛力士) are two wrathful and muscular guardians of the Buddha standing today at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in East Asian Buddhism in the form of frightening wrestler-like statues. They are dharmapala manifestations of the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi, the oldest and most powerful of the Mahayana Buddhist pantheon. According to Japanese tradition, they travelled with Gautama Buddha to protect him and there are references to this in the Pāli Canon as well as the Ambaṭṭha Sutta. Within the generally pacifist tradition of Buddhism, stories of dharmapalas justified the use of physical force to protect cherished values and beliefs against evil. The Niō are also seen as a manifestation of Mahasthamaprapta, the bodhisattva of power that flanks Amitābha in Pure Land Buddhism and as Vajrasattva in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Shanmen, also known as the Gate of Three Liberations, is the most important gate of a Chinese Chan Buddhist temple.
Pillars of Ashoka
The pillars of Ashoka are a series of monolithic columns dispersed throughout the Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed with edicts by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka during his reign from c. 268 to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression Dhaṃma thaṃbhā, i.e. “pillars of the Dharma” to describe his own pillars. These pillars constitute important monuments of the architecture of India, most of them exhibiting the characteristic Mauryan polish. Of the pillars erected by Ashoka, twenty still survive including those with inscriptions of his edicts. Only a few with animal capitals survive of which seven complete specimens are known. Two pillars were relocated by Firuz Shah Tughlaq to Delhi. Several pillars were relocated later by Mughal Empire rulers, the animal capitals being removed. Averaging between 12 and 15 m in height, and weighing up to 50 tons each, the pillars were dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected.
Hall of Guru
The Hall of Guru or Guru Hall, also known as the Founder’s Hall, is the most important annex halls in Chinese Buddhist temples for enshrining masters of various Buddhism schools. It is encountered throughout East Asia, including in some Japanese Buddhist Kaisandos (開山堂). The Hall of Guru is generally situated to the west of the Mahavira Hall. Chan Buddhist temples usually have the Hall of Guru, which is followed by other schools’ temples. Therefore three statues are always enshrined in the Guru Hall, namely the founder of the school, the senior monk who make significant contributions to the establishment of the school and the builder of the temple. Generally the Guru Hall in Chan Buddhism temples has Bodhidharma enshrined in the middle, the 6th Master Huineng’s (638-713) statue on the left and Master Baizhang Huaihai’s (720-814) statue on the right. Patriarch Bodhidharma and Damo for short, from south of ancient India, was the original ancestor of Chan Buddhism. The 6th Master Dajian Huineng was the actual founder of Chan Buddhism. After him, the Chan Buddhism in ancient China was almost changed and had far-reaching influence on Chinese traditional culture. Baizhang Huaihai was the third generation disciple of Huineng and his main achievements included: applying Chan Buddhism into practice, creating a set of regulations for Chan Buddhist temples and contributing to the steady development of Chan Buddhism.
Thai temple art and architecture
Thai temple art and architecture is the art 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.
Hall of Four Heavenly Kings
The Hall of Four Heavenly Kings or Four Heavenly Kings Hall, referred to as Hall of Heavenly Kings, is the first important hall inside shanmen in Chinese Pure Land Buddhist temples and Chan Buddhist temples and is named due to the Four Heavenly Kings statues enshrined in the hall.
Bonshō , also known as tsurigane or ōgane are large bells found in Buddhist temples throughout Japan, used to summon the monks to prayer and to demarcate periods of time. Rather than containing a clapper, bonshō are struck from the outside, using either a handheld mallet or a beam suspended on ropes.
Komainu (狛犬), often called lion-dogs in English, are statue pairs of lion-like creatures either guarding the entrance or the honden, or inner shrine of many Japanese Shinto shrines or kept inside the inner shrine itself, where they are not visible to the public. The first type, born during the Edo period, is called sandō komainu , the second and much older type jinnai komainu . They can sometimes be found also at Buddhist temples, nobility residences or even private homes.
Mon is a generic Japanese term for gate often used, either alone or as a suffix, in referring to the many gates used by Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and traditional-style buildings and castles.
Pekada, or pekadaya, are the decorative wooden pillar heads/brackets at the top of a stone or wooden column, known as kapa, supporting a beam or dandu. It is a unique feature of Kandyan architecture.
A prang is a tall tower-like spire, usually richly carved. They were a common shrine element of Hindu and Buddhist architecture in the Khmer Empire (802-1431). They were later adapted by Buddhist builders in Thailand, especially during the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1350–1767) and Rattanakosin Kingdom (1782–1932). In Thailand it appears only with the most important Buddhist temples.
The rōmon is one of two types of two-storied gate used in Japan. Even though it was originally developed by Buddhist architecture, it is now used at both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Its otherwise normal upper story is inaccessible and therefore offers no usable space. It is in this respect similar to the tahōtō and the multi-storied pagoda, neither of which offers, in spite of appearances, usable space beyond the first story. In the past, the name also used to be sometimes applied to double-roof gates.
Sanctuary of Truth
The Sanctuary of Truth is an unfinished museum in Pattaya, Thailand, which is a hybrid of temple and castle based on Ayutthaya period and Buddhist, Hindu beliefs. It was designed by the Thai businessman Lek Viriyaphan in the Ayutthaya style. The building is notably constructed entirely out of wood, specifically Mai Deang, Mai Takien, Mai Panchaat, and Teak, and it contains only wood-carved idols and sculptures. Construction first began on the Sanctuary of Truth in 1981 and continues as of 2020, though visitors are permitted inside with hard hats. Located on 13 hectares of land, the temple houses an internal space of 2,115 m2, with the tallest spire reaching to 105 m.
The Arhat Hall is mainly for enshrining Arhat in Han Chinese Buddhist temples. Arhat is short for Arahant, meaning self-enlightened. In the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, Arhats rank the third position in Buddhism, only below the Buddha and Bodhisattva. In the Theravada tradition of Buddhism, Arhats rank the highest the Karma position. Buddhists believe that Arhats position means to free oneself from being troubled and from the circle of rebirth.
Sandakada pahana, also known as Moon-stone, is a unique feature of the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka. It is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. First seen in the latter stage of the Anuradhapura period, the sandakada pahana evolved through the Polonnaruwa, Gampola and Kandy period. According to historians, the sandakada pahana symbolises the cycle of Sansāra in Buddhism.
A sanmon , also called sangedatsumon , is the most important gate of a Japanese Zen Buddhist temple, and is part of the Zen shichidō garan, the group of buildings that forms the heart of a Zen Buddhist temple. It can be often found in temples of other denominations too. Most sanmon are 2- or 3-bay nijūmon, but the name by itself does not imply any specific architecture.
Setchūyō is an architectural style born in Japan during the Muromachi period from the fusion of elements from three different antecedent styles: wayō, daibutsuyō, and zenshūyō. It is exemplified by the main hall at Kakurin-ji. The combination of wayō and daibutsuyō in particular became so frequent that sometimes it is classed separately by scholars under the name Shin-wayō .
Shichidō garan is a Japanese Buddhist term indicating the seven halls composing the ideal Buddhist temple compound. This compound word is composed by the word shichidō (七堂), literally meaning “seven halls”, and garan (伽藍), meaning “temple”. The term is often shortened to just garan. Which seven halls the term refers to varies, and it is also pointed out that 七堂 is possibly a misinterpretation of shitsudō (悉堂), meaning a complete temple. In practice, shichidō garan often simply means a large temple with many buildings. See below for more details about what are the possible seven buildings included.
The shōrō, shurō or kanetsuki-dō is the bell tower of a Buddhist temple in Japan, housing the temple’s bonshō (梵鐘). It can also be found at some Shinto shrines which used to function as temples, as for example Nikkō Tōshō-gū. Two main types exist, the older hakamagoshi (袴腰), which has walls, and the more recent fukihanachi (吹放ち) or fukinuki (吹貫・吹抜き), which does not.
Sōmon is the gate at the entrance of a Buddhist temple in Japan. It often precedes the bigger and more important sanmon.
The three hares is a circular motif or meme appearing in sacred sites from East Asia, the Middle East and to the churches of Devon, England, and historical synagogues in Europe. It is used as an architectural ornament, a religious symbol, and in other modern works of art or a logo for adornment, jewelry, and a coat of arms on an escutcheon. It is viewed as a puzzle, a topology problem or a visual challenge, and has been rendered as sculpture, drawing, and painting.
Tokyō is a system of supporting blocks and brackets supporting the eaves of a Japanese building, usually part of a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine. The use of tokyō is made necessary by the extent to which the eaves protrude, a functionally essential element of Japanese Buddhist architecture. The system has however always had also an important decorative function. The system is a more refined form of the Chinese Dougong that has evolved since its arrival into several original forms.
The University of Valabhi was an important centre of Buddhist learning and championed the cause of Hinayana Buddhism between 600 CE and 1200 CE. Valabhi was the capital of the Maitraka empire during the period 480-775 CE. It was an important port for international trade located in Saurashtra, present day it is called Vallabhipur located in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat in western India, identical with the old state of Vala. For some time, the university was considered to be a rival to Nalanda, in Bihar, in the field of education. In September 2017, the Indian central government started to consider a proposal to revive the ancient university.
Wayō is a Buddhist architectural style developed in Japan before the Kamakura period (1185－1333), and is one of the important Buddhist architectural styles in Japan along with Daibutsuyō and the Zenshūyō, which were developed based on Chinese architectural styles from the Kamakura period. This style originated in the Asuka (538－710) and Nara period (710－794), when Japanese studied Buddhist architecture of the Tang dynasty, and was improved in the Heian period (794－1185) to suit the Japanese climate and aesthetic sense. After the Kamakura period, the Wayō developed into the Shin-wayō style by combining it with the Daibutsuyō, and further developed into the Setchūyō by combining it with the Zenshūyō, and pure Wayō architecture decreased.
Ōbaku Zen architecture
The Ōbaku school of Zen arrived in Japan in the middle of the seventeenth century, several centuries after the other Zen schools, and as a consequence its temples typically have a different architecture, based on Chinese Ming and Qing architectures.
Main Hall (Japanese Buddhism)
Main hall is the building within a Japanese Buddhist temple compound (garan) which enshrines the main object of veneration. Because the various denominations deliberately use different terms, this single English term translates several Japanese words, among them butsuden, butsu-dō, kondō, konpon-chūdō, and hondō. Hondō is its exact Japanese equivalent, while the others are more specialized words used by particular sects or for edifices having a particular structure.
Niōmon is the Japanese name of a Buddhist temple gate guarded by two wooden warriors called Niō. The gate is called Heng Ha Er Jiang (哼哈二将) in China and Geumgangmun (금강문) in Korea. The two statues are inside the two posts of the gate itself, one at the left, one at the right. Structurally, it usually is either a rōmon or a nijūmon and can measure either 5×2 or 3×2 bays. It can sometimes have just one story, as in the case of Asakusa’s Kaminarimon.
Havitta is a name used to refer the ancient Buddhist stupas in Maldives. The word Haviita is believed to have some affinities with the Sanskrit word Caitya used to refer Buddhist sacred places. Some of the famous Havittas in Maldives include Fua Mulaku Havitta and Vādū Havitta.
Daibutsuyō is a Japanese religious architectural style which emerged in the late 12th or early 13th century. Together with Wayō and Zenshūyō, it is one of the three most significant styles developed by Japanese Buddhism on the basis of Chinese models.
A dharani pillar, sutra pillar, or jingchuang is a type of stone pillar engraved with dhāraṇī-sūtras or simple dhāraṇī incantations that is found in China. Dharani pillars were usually erected outside Buddhist temples, and became popular during the Tang dynasty (618–907).
The Dharma Hall, also known as Lecture Hall, is an important building in Han Chinese Buddhist temples. The Dharma Hall is the place for senior monks to preach and generally ranks right after the Mahavira Hall.
Dō . It is very often used in Japanese Buddhism as a suffix in the name of some of the many buildings that can be part of a Japanese temple compound. The prefix can be the name of a deity associated with it or express the building’s function within the temple’s compound.
Drum tower (Chinese Buddhism)
The drum tower is an important building in Han Chinese Buddhist temples. Together with a bell tower, they are usually placed on both sides of the Hall of Four Heavenly Kings. It is usually located on the right side while the bell tower is usually located on the left side. It is general a three-storey pavilion with a big drum placed on it. When it is beaten, it sounds grandly and loudly. Buddhist templea set times to beat the drums to inform the time and also wake people up.
Free Life Pond
The Free Life Pond is an annex pond of the Han Chinese Buddhist temples. It is usually located in front of the Shanmen or the Hall of Four Heavenly Kings. The Free Life Pond embodies Buddhist thoughts of compassion and understanding of all living beings.
In Indian architecture, gavaksha or chandrashala are the terms most often used to describe the motif centred on an ogee, circular or horseshoe arch that decorates many examples of Indian rock-cut architecture and later Indian structural temples and other buildings. In its original form, the arch is shaped like the cross-section of a barrel vault. It is called a chaitya arch when used on the facade of a chaitya hall, around the single large window. In later forms it develops well beyond this type, and becomes a very flexible unit, “the most common motif of Hindu temple architecture”. Gavākṣha is a Sanskrit word which means “bull’s or cow’s eye”. In Hindu temples, their role is envisioned as symbolically radiating the light and splendour of the central icon in its sanctum. Alternatively, they are described as providing a window for the deity to gaze out into the world.
Hall of Bhaisajyaguru
The Hall of Bhaisajyaguru is the hall to enshrine Bhaisajyaguru, who is also named “Yaoshifo” for short in Chinese Buddhism.
Hall of Guanyin
The Hall of Guanyin or Guanyin Hall is the most important annex halls in Chinese Buddhist temples and mainly for enshrining Guanyin (Avalokiteśvara). Guanyin, also called “Guanshiyin” (觀世音), “Guanshizizai” (觀世自在), “Guanzizai” (觀自在), etc., is the attendant of Amitabha and one of the “Western Three Saints” (西方三聖). Guanyin is renowned for his mercy and sympathy. According to Chapter of the Universal Gate of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva (《觀世音菩薩普門品》), if people are in danger, they just need to call his name and he will hear them and go to save them. Since he has many manifestations, different places enshrine different statues of Saint Guanyin (圣觀音), Guanzizai (觀自在), and Thousand-armed and eyed Guanyin (千手千眼觀音菩薩).
Hall of Kshitigarbha
The Hall of Kshitigarbha or Hall of Kshitigarbha Hall is the most important annex halls in Chinese Buddhist temples and Kshitigarbha is enshrined in it.
Hall of Sangharama Palace
The Hall of Sangharama Palace is an important building in Han Chinese Buddhist temples. It is the east annex hall of the Mahavira Hall. “Sangharama” with the short form “garan” (僧伽藍摩), means “gardens of monks” (眾園). In Buddhism, it originally refers to constructing the base of monks’ dormitories (僧舍) and later it refers to the general term of temples, including land and buildings.
Hall of Shanmen
The Hall of Shanmen or Shanmen Hall, also known as Hall of Three Liberation or Hall of Mount Gate, is the gate of a Chinese Chan Buddhist temple. In ancient times, nearly all Chinese Buddhist temples had a Shanmen, as an important gate of the temple. After successive wars and cultural discontinuity, with only one gate, most of the existing ancient Buddhist temples usually follow the hall style or change the middle gate of the three main gates into a hall called “Hall of Shanmen”.
Indo-Corinthian capitals are capitals crowning columns or pilasters, which can be found in the northwestern Indian subcontinent, and usually combine Hellenistic and Indian elements. These capitals are typically dated to the first centuries of the Common Era, and constitute an important aspect of Greco-Buddhist art. However, earlier Indian types reflecting Ionic influence are known from the 3rd century BCE, particularly with the Pataliputra capital.
Nijūmon is one of two types of two-story gate presently used in Japan, and can be found at most Japanese Buddhist temples. This gate is distinguishable from its relative by the roof above the first floor which skirts the entire upper story, absent in a rōmon. Accordingly, it has a series of brackets (tokyō) supporting the roof’s eaves both at the first and at the second story. In a rōmon, the brackets support a balcony. The tokyō are usually three-stepped (mitesaki) with tail rafters at the third step. A nijūmon is normally covered by a hip-and-gable roof.
Pagodas in Japan are called tō , sometimes buttō or tōba and historically derive from the Chinese pagoda, itself an interpretation of the Indian stupa. Like the stupa, pagodas were originally used as reliquaries but in many cases they ended up losing this function. Pagodas are quintessentially Buddhist and an important component of Japanese Buddhist temple compounds but, because until the Kami and Buddhas Separation Act of 1868, a Shinto shrine was normally also a Buddhist temple and vice versa, they are not rare at shrines either. The famous Itsukushima Shrine, for example, has one.
The kairō , bu (廡), sōrō or horō (歩廊) is the Japanese version of a cloister, a covered corridor originally built around the most sacred area of a Buddhist temple, a zone which contained the Kondō and the pagoda. Nowadays it can be found also at Shinto shrines and at shinden-zukuri aristocratic residences.
Katâraya are a unique feature of monastic caves (guhā-vihāra) and cave temples in Sri Lanka. It refers to a drip line or ledge carved around the mouth of a cave shelter to preserve the interiors and meditating monks from rainwater.
A katōmado , also written as , is a style of pointed arch or bell-shaped window found in Japanese architecture. It first arrived in Japan from China together with Zen Buddhism, as an element of Zen style architecture, but from the end of the 16th century it started to be used in temples of other Buddhist sects, Shinto shrines, castles, and samurai residences as well. the window initially was not flared, but its design and shape changed over time: the two vertical frames were widened and curves were added at the bottom. The kanji characters used for its name have also changed through the centuries, from the original “fire window” to “flower head window”.
The Kizil Caves are a set of Buddhist rock-cut caves located near Kizil Township in Baicheng County, Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang, China. The site is located on the northern bank of the Muzat River 65 kilometres west of Kucha. This area was a commercial hub of the Silk Road. The caves have an important role in Central Asian art and in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism, and are said to be the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China, with development occurring between the 3rd and 8th centuries CE. The caves of Kizil are the earlier of their type in China, and their model was later adopted in the construction of Buddhist caves further east. Another name for the site has been Ming-oi, although this term is now mainly used for the site of Shorchuk to the east.
Korawakgala, or koravakgal (wingstones), are stone balustrades, which are located on either side of the stairs/steps leading to the entrance or door of a religious building or structure. They form one of three distinct architectural features at the entrance of most Buddhist structures in Sri Lanka, being the sandakada pahana (moonstone), muragala (guardstones) and the korawakgala (wingstones).
Kyōzō (経蔵) in Japanese Buddhist architecture is a repository for sūtras and chronicles of the temple history. It is also called kyōko (経庫), kyō-dō (経堂), or zōden (蔵殿). In ancient times the kyōzō was placed opposite the belfry on the east–west axis of the temple. The earliest extant kyōzō is at Hōryū-ji, and it is a two-storied structure. An example of one-storied kyōzō is at Tōshōdai-ji in Nara. A kyōzō’s usual size is 3 x 3 ken.
Madol Kurupawa is a wooden king post or catch pin, which is used to secure numerous wooden beams of a roof structure to a single point. It is a unique feature of Kandyan architecture/joinery.
A Mahavira Hall, usually simply known as a Main Hall, is the main hall or building in a traditional Chinese Buddhist temple, enshrining representations of Gautama Buddha and various other buddhas and bodhisattvas. It is encountered throughout East Asia.
Bell tower (Chinese Buddhism)
The Bell tower is an important building in Han Chinese Buddhist temples. Together with Drum tower, they are usually placed on both sides of the Hall of Four Heavenly Kings. It is usually located on the left side while the Drum tower is usually located on the right side. It is general a three-storey pavilion with a large bell hung in it. The loud and melodious sound of the bell is often used to convene monks. In each morning and night, beating the bell 108 times symbolizes the relief of the 108 kinds of trouble in the human world.
Maya Devi Temple – Lumbini
Maya Devi Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple situated at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lumbini, Nepal. It is the main temple at Lumbini, a site traditionally considered the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. The temple stands adjacent to a sacred pool and a sacred garden. The archaeological remains at the site were previously dated to the third-century BCE brick buildings constructed by Ashoka. A sixth-century BCE timber shrine was discovered in 2013.
Muragala or muru gal, also known as a guardstone, are a unique feature of the Sinhalese architecture of ancient Sri Lanka. The muragala is a set of twin oblong slabs of stone, with a rounded top, located at the foot of the flight of steps, leading to a place of worship, situated on a higher elevation.
Zenshūyō is a Japanese Buddhist architectural style derived from Chinese Song Dynasty architecture. Named after the Zen sect of Buddhism which brought it to Japan, it emerged in the late 12th or early 13th century. Together with Wayō and Daibutsuyō, it is one of the three most significant styles developed by Japanese Buddhism on the basis of Chinese models. Until World War II, this style was called karayō but, like the Daibutsuyō style, it was re-christened by Ōta Hirotarō, a 20th-century scholar. Its most typical features are a more or less linear layout of the garan, paneled doors hanging from hinges, intercolumnar tokyō, cusped windows, tail rafters, ornaments called kibana, and decorative pent roofs.