Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs & Symbols / Edition 1

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"A concise, accessible primer to the intricate world of Buddhist art."—Publishers Weekly
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 Asia 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, and the task of deciphering Buddhist 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. Photographs and two-color line drawings and maps accompany the explanatory texts. With a comprehensive glossary of key Buddhist terms and a well-researched bibliography, this book will prove indispensable to anyone with an interest in Buddhism and its arts.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500284285
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 3/19/2004
  • Edition description: First Paperback Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Meher McArthur is an art historian and the former curator of East Asian Art at the Pacific Asian Museum in California. She is the author of Reading
Buddist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols, The Arts of Asia: Materials, Techniques, Styles, and Confucius: A Throneless King. She lives in
Pasadena, CA.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7
Preface 8
Introduction 9
Section I The Buddhist Pantheon
1 Shakyamuni 27
2 Bhaishajyaguru 31
3 Maitreya 33
4 Vairochana 35
5 Akshobhya 37
6 Amitabha, Amitayus 39
7 Ratnasambhava, Amoghasiddhi 41
8 Avalokiteshvara 43
9 Tara 47
10 Akashagarbha 49
11 Kshitigarbha 51
12 Manjushri 53
13 Samantabhadra 55
14 Vajrapani 57
15 Yama 59
16 Yamantaka 61
17 Mahakala 63
18 Lokapala (Guardian Kings) 65
19 Vaishravana, Kubera 67
20 Gate Guardians 69
21 The Five Kings of Mystical Knowledge 71
22 Yidams 73
23 Devas 75
24 Prajnaparamita, Sarasvati, Marici 77
25 Dakinis, Rakshas, Shaktis 79
26 Ashuras, Yakshas, Apsaras 81
27 Arhats 83
28 Bodhidharma 85
29 Padmasambhava 87
30 Xuanzang, Atisha 89
31 Kobo Daishi 91
32 Facial Features 93
33 The Thirty-Two Marks of a Great Man 95
34 Hairstyles, Crowns and Headdresses 97
35 Jewelry and Adornments 99
36 Thrones and Aureoles 101
37 Standing and Walking Postures 103
38 Sitting Postures 105
39 Lying Position 107
40 Embracing Postures 109
41 Gestures of Fearlessness, Gift Giving 111
42 Gestures of Explanation, Turning of the Wheel of the Law 113
43 Gestures of Earth-Touching, Meditation 115
44 Fist of Wisdom, Gesture of Prayer 117
Section II Signs, Symbols and Ritual Objects
45 The Eight Auspicious Symbols 119
46 Footprints 121
47 The Wheel of the Law 123
48 Lotus 125
49 Precious Jewel 127
50 Swastika 129
51 Trees 131
52 Mountains 133
53 Real Animals 135
54 Mythical Animals 137
55 Diamond Thunderbolt 139
56 Weapons and Instruments 141
57 Daggers and Choppers 143
58 Musical Instruments 145
59 Water and Flower Containers 147
60 Begging Bowls and Skull Cups 149
61 Incense Burners 151
62 Prayer Beads 153
63 Robes and Hats 155
64 Prayer Wheel 157
65 Stupas and Pagodas 159
66 Altars and Shrines 161
67 Sanskrit Letters 163
68 Sacred Texts 165
69 Zen Ink Painting and Calligraphy 167
70 The Six Realms of Rebirth 169
71 Hell Scenes 171
72 Paradise Scenes 173
73 Mandalas 175
Section III Major Buddhist Sites
74 Bodh Gaya, India 177
75 Sanchi, India 179
76 Ajanta, India 181
77 Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka 183
78 Pagan, Burma 185
79 Sukhothai, Thailand 187
80 Angkor, Cambodia 189
81 Borobodur, Indonesia 191
82 Bamiyan, Afghanistan 193
83 Potala Palace, Tibet 195
84 Longmen Caves, China 197
85 Sokkuram, Korea 199
86 Todaiji, Japan 201
87 Ryoanji, Japan 203
Glossary of Key Buddhist Terms 204
Further Reading 209
Illustration Acknowledgments 210
Index 211
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