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Two main branches of Buddhism: Mahayana and Theravada Mahayana Buddhism is considered the Northern route and
encompasses Central Asia, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
Mahayana Buddhism focuses more on BodhisaDvas, enlightened beings who remain on earth unFl all are enlightened. All are called to become bodhisaDvas on the path to full Buddhahood.
Theravada Buddhism , the southern route, encompasses Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Theravada Buddhists are more orthodox, admiNng only the oldest of Buddhist texts into their beliefs. For them, bodhisaDvas are prior incarnaFons of the Buddha, on his path to enlightenment.
India, the homeland of Buddhism, has a small populaFon of Buddhists.
Spread of Buddhism
Cliff notes: History of Buddhism 566 486 BCE Life of Siddhartha Guatama, historical Buddha,
Lumbini, Nepal 486 BCE Buddhist Canon formalized at First Buddhist Council 272 231 BCE Indian Emperor Ashoka enthusiasFcally embraces
Buddhism & builds temples, stupas; his son Mahinda spreads Buddhism to Sri Lanka
Ca. 100 AD Buddhism established in Cambodia, Vietnam, Central Asia and China
Ca. 200 AD Expansion of Buddhism to Burma, Laos, Indonesia. Ca. 300 AD Buddhism enters Korea 538 AD Buddhism enters Japan and quickly becomes state religion. Ca. 900 AD Buddhism in Thailand; Islam replaces Buddhism in
Central Asia 1193 Muslims conquer Magadha, heartland of Buddhism in India,
destroying Buddhist monasteries and universiFes and wiping out Buddhism in that region.
15th century Dalai Lama lineage begins in Tibet 17th century Zen Buddhism revived and thrives in Japan
Aniconic Buddha imagery IniFally, Buddha was not
represented by the human form. Footprints (to show his human side), an empty chair or throne, or empty space were all stand-ins for Buddha.
Mara aDacking Buddha (symbolized by empty throne). Ashoka C. 300 BCE, India
Attributes of Buddha Mudras = hand gestures which signify a variety of
aNtudes and purposes Elongated earlobes = renunciaFon of earthly riches and
denial of greed There are a total of 32 major lakshanas including, for
example, hair curls turning to the right. One of the most important is the Ushnisha = Head bump (someFmes shown as a bun) signifies enlightened wisdom.
Lotus flower grows up from muck at boDom of a pond, symbolizing the spiritual journey to rise above problems to find enlightenment
Bodhisattvas Right: BodhisaDva Maitreya (final
Buddha) Below: BodhisaDva Padmapani
Common mudras Abhaya mudra = no fear, protecFon Dharmachakra mudra = wheel of Dharma, gesture of
teaching Vitarka mudra = discussion and transmission of
Buddhist teaching Dhyana mudra = gesture of meditaFon Varada mudra = offering, welcome, charity,
compassion Bhumisparsha mudra = earth-touching gesture which
depicts Buddhas moment of enlightenment and vanquishing of the temptaFon of demons; the transformaFon of anger to wisdom.
Gandharan Buddha, ca. 100 AD
Considered the oldest extant image of Buddha
Tokyo NaFonal Museum Gandhara = Greco-Roman
influence daFng from conquest of region by Alexander the Great
NaturalisFc rendering Greek style toga, ushnisha
becomes a hair bun Buddha Shakyamuni (current
Ca. 100-200 AD
BriFsh Museum collecFon
Carved in schist (metamorphic rock)
Man-bun as ushnisha; elongated ear lobes; Dharmachakra mudra (gesture of teaching) recalls Buddhas first sermon aoer aDaining enlightenment.
Mathura Buddha ca. 470
Red sandstone Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Abhaya mudra (protecFon)
Simple monk robes Robust musculature and frontal standing pose recall warrior-savior figures of Kushan period (northwest India, 100 BCE - 200 AD)
Mathura Buddha, 82
AD Kimball Art Museum, TX Carved of local red
sandstone Indigenous figural style
(less naturalisFc) Emphasis on grace and
delight (smile) Large halo = diviinity Hands and feet marked
with lotus and wheel, symbolizing divinity and teaching.
Same style and some aDributes shared with Hinduism and Jainism
Gupta BuddhaCa. 550 AD Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Bronze Mathura influence ProporFons reflect aestheFc canons of the Fme
Elegant body, stylized hair
Buddhist architecture in India
IniFally, shrines or temples followed the same paDern as Hindu temples: square inner space with surrounding pathway with colonnade.
Spire represented Mount Meru, center of the universe and home of the deiFes.
Viharas are Buddhist monasteries. The stupa is a uniquely Buddhist structure, originally designed to hold relics of the Buddha.
Stupa (Sanskrit for heap)
Early stupas were simply dirt burial mounds. The earliest surviving stupa is located at Sanchi, India, and was constructed by Ashoka, Indian emperor who converted to Buddhism aoer witnessing the carnage caused by his conquest of Kalinga and enthusiasFcally converted his kingdom, building stupas to house parts of the historical Buddhas remains and scaDering pillars throughout his kingdom.
Stupa at Sanchi ca. 200 BCE Oldest stone structure in India, doubled in size in later years.
Ashokas pillar at Lumbini (birthplace of Buddha) ca.
Ashokas apology to village of Kalinga
Two periods of construcFon: 300 100 BCE; 460 480 AD
Considered the finest surviving examples of Indian art
They include stupas, viharas (monasteries), shrines and temples: approximately 30 in total
Dry fresco painFngs survive in both early and late caves; earliest examples of Indian painFng.
Although considered early manifestaFons of Mahayana Buddhist tradiFon, the Buddha is the key figure, not the BodhisaDvas only a few are depicted at Ajanta.
Aerial view of Ajanta caves
Ajanta Cave 1
Cave 1 is a vihara halls for prayer and living for monks;
Note individual cells around central space,
sanctuary at rear (image above)
Ajanta Cave 1The Ajanta cave painFngs mostly reference Jatakas, or birth stories, stories about the various lives of the Buddha.
Cave 4 ceiling painting
Cave 9 early Chaitya (stupa hall)
Cave 26 late chaitya
Cave 4 ceiling painting
Cave 4 Buddha surrounded by Bodhisattvas
Some painFngs from various caves
Buddhism in China Buddhism entered China ca. 200 BCE China and India traded influences unFl 11th 12th
century when Islam took over India. Aoer that, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan became world centers of Buddhism.
In China, Mahayana Buddhism embraced more than the historical Buddha, Siddharta Guatama (Buddha Shakyamuni); rather, celesFal Buddhas and BodhisaDvas are also revered. Between 300 900 AD, 2 branches of Chinese Buddhism developed: Pure Land (based on devoFon and faith as the path to enlightenment) and Chan (Zen) Buddhism (based on meditaFon and mindfulness during daily acFviFes).
Buddha Maitreya, 486 AD, Northern Wei Dynasty
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), ca. 550, N.Qi
dynasty Nearly 14 feet
tall, sandstone Extreme
adornment references Central Asian and Chinese culture of the Fme
Alludes to passage in Lotus Sutra
Avalokiteshvara as Guan-yin
Ca. 1025, China Contemporary statue
Avalokiteshvara, China Thousand-armed Guanyin Guanyin vowed that "Should He
ever become disheartened in saving senFent beings, may His body shaDer into a thousand pieces. Baoen Temple, China
Qingzhou, Shandong Province site, 1996
Qingzhou Buddhist sculptures: What happened?
1996, a bulldozer was leveling a playing field in Qingzhou, Shandong Province, when bits of statuary started turning up.
Archaeologists, excavaFng under severe Fme restraints, found 400+ Buddhist statues, all broken, daFng between 529 577 AD. (Northern Wei, Eastern Wei and Northern Qi dynasFes.
Statues were carefully placed: biggest and most complete in the middle, surrounded by many heads of Buddhas, covered by remains of reed mats.
Among the sculptures were found coins and poDery daFng to the early 12th century. What does it all mean??
Earliest dates to 529 AD Note flaDened bodies hidden
by drapery Later sculpture shows more
rounded bodies. Which is the older?
In pre-modern Fmes, sculptures were usually painted. Bright pigments were expensive and rare, so the presence of dazzling color on a sculpture reinforced its sancFty.
Most of the Qingzhou sculptures retain some pigment, usually in several layers, indicaFng that they were regularly repainted, repaired and regilded.
BodhisaDva Avalokiteshvara Northern Qi Dynasty, 550 557 AD Influenced by Gandhara and
Mathuran (Indian) style Buddhas
Some differences between Chinese and Indian Buddhist sculpture:
Typically thin bodies and thick drapery in Chinese Buddhas, typical of Chinese scholars
Early Chinese Buddhas are formal and sFff, with no sense of the body beneath the robe; later there are Indian influences.
Many statues of elaborately carved and ornamented bodhisaDvas in China