Reading Buddhist Art
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A visual guide to understanding the Buddhist world.
Buddhism has a history of over 2,500 years, and its arts have existed for almost as long, weaving their way with monks and pilgrims through broad areas of the Asian continent and across seas, intermingling with the arts and styles of indigenous cultures. Not surprisingly, the teachings and imagery of this international religion are vast and complex; to many students of Buddhism and its arts the task of deciphering Buddhist iconography and symbolism can seem as challenging as the search for enlightenment itself.
All the principal symbols, objects, and figures of Buddhist worship are gathered here in a rich, informative, and easy-to-use book that will serve equally well as an art-lover's reference tool and as an introduction to the principles of the religion itself. After an explanation of the early history of Buddhism and its subsequent spread, the book discusses the main figures of Buddhist worship—the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, deities, protectors of the faith, and historical personages—and explains their origins, characters, identifying features, and the areas where they are most commonly worshiped. This is followed by illustrated explanations of the main Buddhist symbols and of many of the objects used during worship and meditation, as well as an overview of major Buddhist sites throughout the world.