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Article

T. I. Zeymal’

Buddhist monastery of the 7th century ad to first half of the 8th, in the valley of the Vakhsh River, 12 km east of Kurgan-Tyube, southern Tajikistan. During this early medieval period it belonged to Vakhsh (U-sha in Chinese sources), one of the 27 domains of Tokharistan. Excavations between ...

Article

Aihole  

Gary Michael Tartakov

Temple site and city in Karnataka, India, that flourished c. ad 525–1200.

An important centre of the early Chalukya dynasty (see Chalukya, §1), Aihole is situated, like the nearby sites of Pattadakal and Badami, near the Malaprabha River. Little is known of the ancient urban complex, but there are remains of a massive city wall with bastions and fragmentary crenellations. Inscriptions indicate that Aihole was a prominent commercial centre and the home of the ‘Ayyavole Five Hundred’, a corporation of traders and craftsmen. The remains of about 150 temples (in diverse styles) are preserved at the site. The oldest date to the mid-6th century and later examples to the time of the ...

Article

Ajanta  

Gary Michael Tartakov

Ancient Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site (c. 200 bcad 500) located 100 km north of Aurangabad in the Sahyadri range of western India.

Ajanta is India’s richest surviving Buddhist complex. Far from any city, but close to the trade routes linking northern India with the western coast and the Deccan plateau, the monastery (...

Article

Alchi  

W. A. P. Marr

Buddhist monastery in a small valley on the left bank of the River Indus, c. 64 km west of Leh in Ladakh, India. Tradition attributes the monastery’s origin to the Tibetan scholar and temple-builder Rinchen Sangpo (ad 958–1055), the ‘great translator’, and although its buildings mostly date from the 11th century, the site is replete with his memory, from the ancient tree he planted to his portraits and images in the temples. A treasure-house of art, Alchi has been preserved because of its isolation from trade routes and the decline of its community, the monks of the Dromtön sect of the Kadampa order....

Article

Robert Knox

Site near the ancient city of Dharanikota on the right bank of the Krishna River in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India, that flourished from the 3rd century bc to the 14th century ad. It is also the location of a modern town, but the site is celebrated for its stupa, which may have been the earliest Buddhist foundation in the region and which certainly came to be its largest and most elaborate (...

Article

Frederick M. Asher

Site of Buddhist monastery on the River Ganga in Bhagalpur District, Bihar, India. Until recently, the location of the monastery of Vikramashila was known only approximately from Tibetan sources, but excavations at Antichak have almost surely revealed its remains. The monastery was founded by the Pala dynasty monarch ...

Article

Senake Bandaranayake

Ancient city and religious centre in north-central Sri Lanka on the Malvatu Oya River. The site (see fig.) extends over an area of about 64 sq. km. At its centre are the vestiges of a fortified inner city, surrounded by several ancient Buddhist monastery complexes and four large, man-made lakes. The founding of Anuradhapura as a major urban complex is traditionally ascribed to the semi-historical figure of the pre-Buddhist period, King Pandukabhaya, in the ...

Article

Gary Michael Tartakov

Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site—fl c. 100 bcad 600—and later city in Maharashtra, India. Together with Ajanta and Ellora, it represents the culmination of Buddhist rock-cut art along the trade routes of western India. The Buddhist site, located in the hills north-west of the city, contains a dozen excavations, an aniconic prayer-hall (Skt ...

Article

Bagh  

Frederick M. Asher

Site of Buddhist rock-cut sanctuaries in Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh, India. During the second half of the 5th century ad a series of ten sanctuaries, one of them incomplete, was carved at Bagh from rock a great deal softer and thus less durable than that of sites in the Deccan plateau, such as Ajanta: consequently the work is not well preserved. The most elaborately carved caves are nos 2, 3, 4 and 6. All the caves at Bagh are ...

Article

Bamiyan  

Mary S. Lawton

Site in north-central Afghanistan. Located at the western end of the silk route, Bamiyan flourished as a trading and religious centre until the 13th century. It is the site of a rock-cut Buddhist monastery, the most distinctive feature of which were two monumental rock-cut standing ...

Article

Bedsa  

Gary Michael Tartakov

Buddhist monastic and pilgrimage site in Maharashtra, western India, that flourished c. 50 bcad 50. Situated in the hills a few kilometres east of the rock-cut shrines of Bhaja and Karle, Bedsa overlooks the trade route linking the ancient seaport of Kalyan with the interior (...

Article

M. Yaldiz

Site in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, 56 km north-east of Turfan. It is the site of the most outstanding complex of Buddhist cave temples in Khocho and is located in the steep side of an extensive terrace above the Murtuk River. At one time access to the caves was via free-standing timber buildings or terraces constructed in front of them, but by the time the caves were discovered by ...

Article

Bhaja  

A. P. Jamkhedkar

Site of Buddhist rock-cut temples and other buildings in Pune District, Maharashtra, India. Bhaja is one of a series of cave-temple sites that developed in western India during the last two centuries bc in proximity to important trade routes. The caves were probably created by followers of Hinayana Buddhism, though paintings of Buddhas and ...

Article

Bharhut  

Kurt Behrendt

Site of a Buddhist stupa of the 2nd century bc in Satna District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The fragmentary remains of the Bharhut Stupa (see Stupa, §1) were discovered near the village of Bhaironpur by Alexander Cunningham in 1873. The stupa itself was largely destroyed, having been pillaged by local villagers for building material. Only the eastern gateway (Skt ...

Article

Frederick M. Asher

Pilgrimage centres and towns located on the Phalagu (Niranjana) River in Bihar, India. From an early date Gaya has been a site for the performance of śrāddha, rites for recently deceased parents. This ancient tradition and the general sanctity of Gaya in the 5th century...

Article

Erberto F. Lo Bue

Stupa site 7 km east of Kathmandu, Nepal. The stupa (h. 45 m, diam. 90 m) is the largest of its kind in the Kathmandu Valley. Its great plinth consists of three broad terraces of intersected squares and rectangles forming a platform of 20 angles (Skt ...

Article

R. Soekmono

Indonesian monumental site, located in central Java, c. 40 km north-west of Yogyakarta. Indonesia’s largest religious monument, Candi Borobudur was erected c. ad 800 to glorify the founder of the ruling Buddhist dynasty of the Shailendras. In addition to demonstrating high esteem for the ancestors, it was also intended to express in visual form the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. This dual purpose accounts for its unique plan. The stepped pyramid surmounted by a stupa symbolizes the merit accumulated by the dynasty along the way shown by the Buddha. Candi Borobudur was constructed on a natural hill some 15 m above the extensive Kedu Plain. The construction required about two million blocks of volcanic stone. Rising from a redented square base 107×107×3.7 m, the monument is set back 6 m from its edge, so that a broad platform is created. Each of the five succeeding square terraces is set back just 2 m from the one below, forming narrow galleries that have balustrades on their outer sides. The superstructure, set on the uppermost square terrace, is composed of three circular platforms, each of which supports a ring of latticed stupas or dagobs (72 in total). Surmounting the whole edifice is an unlatticed central stupa, the top of which is more than 30 m above ground-level. Access to the upper part of the monument is by stairways on the axes that bisect the sides of the pyramid. They lead through a series of gates directly to the circular platforms, intersecting the corridors of the square terraces....

Article

Butkara  

E. Errington

Group of three sites east of Saidu Sharif, Swat, Pakistan. The sacred precinct of the great Buddhist stupa at Butkara I (3rd century bc–10th century ad) and the graveyard known as Butkara II (c. 4th century bc) were excavated by the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Extremo Oriente; Butkara III, a smaller Buddhist site (...

Article

Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan

Japanese Buddhist temple in the city of Uji, c. 18 km south of Kyoto. It occupies 1.65 ha of woodland along the western bank of the River Uji. Its ‘mountain name’ (sangō) and identifier prefix is Asahiyama.

Byōdōin is an independent temple affiliated with the Jōdo (Pure land) school of the Tendai sect of Esoteric ...

Article

Raja de Silva

A large rocky outcrop in central Sri Lanka noted for its cave shrines and paintings, which flourished from the 2nd century bc. On the upper slopes of the outcrop of gneiss 600 m long and 150 m above the surrounding plain is a series of five caves, aligned east–west and more or less contiguous, which have been occupied from the ...