"Buddha: Radiant Awakening" is the catalog of an exhibition of Buddhist art held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia from Nov. 2001 to Feb. 2002. The exhibit featured 132 objects from various museums and private collections, and focused exclusively on images of the Buddha in stone sculptures, bronzes, and paintings from China, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Tibet, with dates ranging from 200 A.D. to the present.
In connection with the interesting and beautiful objects featured in the exhibition, this catalog contains a lot of information about Buddhist iconography that is hard to find elsewhere, and is conveniently organized here in a single book.
Contents include images and articles about: the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni), Buddist cosmology (Pure Lands, Heavens), the five Transcendent or Dhyani Buddhas (Vairocana, Amogasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, Akshobhya, Amitayus), Amitabha (the Buddha of the Western Paradise), Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future), Bhaisajyaguru (Japanese "Yakushi," the Buddha of Healing), and other Buddhas imaged in the Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana systems of worship. Conceptually, the catalog is unified by the idea of the forms of Buddha radiating through cosmic time and space.
The exhibit's focus on images of Buddha means that the rest of the Buddhist pantheon (Bodhisattvas, Guardians, etc) is touched upon only in passing, but has the advantage of allowing a deeper exploration of its central subject. For general readers, this book will get you "up to speed" really fast, while students and scholars will appreciate its expert commentary and references to current scholarship. Plus, you get large-format photographs of the objects in the exhibition. Highly recommended for anyone who loves Asian art!