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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 (see fig.). It was rediscovered in 1799 as a ruined but largely intact mound by Colonel Colin Mackenzie, first Surveyor General of India. His work in that year and in 1816 led to the excavations conducted in 1845 by Walter Elliot of the Madras Civil Service. Most of the sculptures now in the British Museum, London, were excavated at that time, although part of the Elliot collection remains in the Government Museum, Madras. Unfortunately, between the rediscovery of the stupa and these early excavations, much damage was done to it, with limestone slabs being quarried for building materials by the local residents. The stupa was further excavated in ...


Frederick M. Asher

[anc. Vikramashila, Vikramaśīla]

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 Dharmapala (reg c. ad 781–812; see Pala and Sena family). At the middle of the site is a tall brick stupa with a cruciform plan, closely related in form and dimensions to the stupa at Paharpur, also part of a monastic complex built by Dharmapala. Both stupas are set on an elevated terrace for circumambulation and in both cases the lowest portion of the stupa wall (where it survives) is decorated with terracotta plaques. At Antichak these depict mostly animals, human figures and ritual devices (pots, conch shells etc). Although sometimes described as ‘folk art’, they are carefully rendered and appear to be arranged according to a systematic programme. A row of cells forms the site’s outer perimeter, enclosing the large courtyard in which the stupa stands. These may have been intended as dwellings for monks or to accommodate images and likely functioned as the outer rim of the three-dimensional ...



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 viharas (monastic dwellings). The characteristic plan places monks’ cells around the outer walls enclosing a large pillared central hall. The pillars have thicker shafts than those of contemporary shrines at Ajanta (probably to compensate for the quality of stone), yet their design is imaginatively varied. Some of the shafts have diagonal or spiral flutes, while others are composite varieties combining a lower section of four sides, with upper sections moving from an octagonal to a 16-sided section; yet others become 12- or 24-sided. The pillar brackets of Cave 4 depict animals, some with riders. At the rear of most of the sanctuaries is an image shrine housing a stupa, not a Buddha figure as in the Ajanta shrines. Buddha images are, however, carved elsewhere in the Bagh sanctuaries, for example in the antechamber of several of the caves. The most famous are those of Cave 2, where larger-than-life-size standing Buddha figures flanked by bodhisattvas are depicted on two of the side walls. These figures bear a close resemblance to contemporary figural sculpture of Ajanta....



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 Buddhas that bracket the religious complex. Confined in mandorla-shaped niches, they represented the first appearance of the colossal cult image in Buddhist art. Their size not only encouraged approaching pilgrims but exemplified the esoteric Mahayana doctrine of the Universal Buddha (see also Buddhism, §I). Faces and folds in the robes were modelled in mud mixed with chopped straw. This was supported by dowels and ropes pegged into the rock; a final coating of lime plaster was applied before gilding. The smaller Buddha (h. c. 38.5 m) probably dated to the 2nd–3rd century ad and its somewhat fluid drapery folds suggested Gandharan traditions. The frescoes and accompanying minor sculptures of donor figures were provincial Sasanian in technique and imagery. The larger Buddha (h. 55 m) was related to the style of Mathura during the ...


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 Albert von Le Coq at the beginning of the 20th century these were largely in ruins. In type the caves conform to those in the Kucha region (see Kizil; see also Central Asia, §II, 2).

The cave temples contained sculptures made of unfired clay, but it was mainly the wall paintings (removed by von Le Coq for safekeeping, few survive; see below) that in their unsurpassable diversity provided evidence of a flourishing Buddhist community. The most impressive were the paintings depicting consecration of a ...



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 bodhisattvas indicate that Bhaja came under the sway of Mahayana doctrine. The number of known excavations at Bhaja has been increased by archaeological discoveries to some 26. These consist of monasteries for Buddhist monks (Skt vihāra), prayer-halls (caitya gṛha), water-cisterns and an assemblage of memorial stupas. The largest monument is the main prayer-hall, an apsidal excavation 17.08 m long and 8.13 m broad. The roof is barrel-shaped and the hall has 27 octagonal pillars (3.45 m high), which are slightly tapered and have an inward rake. On either side of the pillars are aisles that meet behind a stone stupa, thus forming a circumambulatory. The roof-ribs are wooden. An inscription (...



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 toraṇa) and a portion of the railing (vedikā) with crossbars (sūci) and coping stones (uṣṇiṣa) were recovered. These are now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Individual uprights and coping fragments are in the Allahabad Museum, while smaller pieces have found their way to museums around the world.

The stupa (diam. 20 m) was made of large flat bricks (305 × 305 × 59 mm) and was originally surrounded by a railing (diam. 25 m) with four gates. Reliefs on the surviving gate suggest the stupa had a cylindrical base with a hemispherical dome ornamented with floral designs. The summit was crowned by parasols. There is further evidence that a smaller railing either encircled the main railing or edged a raised circumambulatory platform, as at ...


I. Kruglikova

[Dal’verzin; Dil’berdz̆in.]

Site in northern Afghanistan, 40 km north-west of Balkh, which flourished from the Achaemenid period (c. 6th century bc) to the Hephthalite invasion (c. 5th century ad). It was excavated by a Soviet-Afghan team in 1970–77; all finds are in the Kabul Museum.

The fortified town (383×393 m) is enclosed by mud-brick walls with rectangular bastions. There was a circular citadel in the centre, and at the north-east corner of the town a 2nd-century bc temple, perhaps to the Dioscuri, was excavated, which shows several phases of rebuilding. Only a fragment of a wall painting from the earliest period is extant, depicting two nude youths painted red leading white horses by the bridle. Above this are the fragmentary red legs of athletes. To the latest period belongs a polychrome wall painting depicting Shiva and Parvarti on a bull, flanked by two men with four worshippers below. In the main part of the temple a throne ornamented with sculpture was found....


Dorothy C. Wang


Site of Buddhist cave sanctuaries located 25 km south-east of the county town of Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. In the wider definition Dunhuang also includes the Yulin caves at Anxi and the Xi qianfo dong (Western Cave of the Thousand Buddhas). From the 4th century to the 14th, Buddhist cave sanctuaries were continuously carved out in four or five tiers on the cliff face of an alluvial hill that faces east over the Dang River. At its height as a Buddhist complex in the 8th century ad, the complex is believed to have comprised more than 1000 caves. A total of 492 caves with wall paintings and sculptures survive, the earliest of which date to the early 5th century ad. A hoard of old and rare manuscripts was also found at Dunhuang, including the world’s oldest complete printed book (see China, People’s Republic of, §XIV, 3).

Dunhuang was first established as a garrison town in the ...



M. Soar

[Elura, Marathi Verul; anc. Elāpura.]

Site of outstanding cave temples, datable between c. ad 575 and the end of the 9th century, 20 km north of Aurangabad in the Sahyadri Hills, Maharashtra, India. The caves were excavated into volcanic rock along a 2-km stretch of west-facing embankment; there are 34 major caves, numbered consecutively rather than chronologically, starting with the Buddhist group (Caves 1–12) in the south. Other groups are dedicated to the Brahmanical pantheon (Caves 14–29) and to Jainism (Caves 30–34). The most notable monument is Cave 16, the Kailasa Temple.

The caves contain some of the best examples of large-scale sculptured reliefs in India. The earliest caves, which are Hindu, were excavated between c. 575 and 600, when the Kalachuris of Maharashtra family and Chalukya §1 were struggling for supremacy of the Deccan. Cave 29 is largely modelled on Cave 1 at Elephanta but without the three-faced relief of Mahadeva and the central positioning of the four-doored ...



Henrik H. Sørensen

[dga ’ldan]

Site near Dagzê, c. 40 km east of Lhasa, Tibet. It was the principal monastery founded by Tsong Khapa (1357–1419) in the early decades of the 15th century, and it thereafter became a major sanctuary of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism that he established. Formerly an impressive monastery town with several hundred shrines and chapels and a population of over 5000 lamas, Ganden was utterly destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–76). The monastery is still largely ruined, though some reconstruction has begun. The buildings that stand today all date from after 1980.

Ganden was built on the slopes of a hill with the buildings constructed in descending layers in a crescent shape. The heart of Ganden and its most important structure is Tsong Khapa’s Golden Tomb, the Ser Dung. This consists of several interconnecting buildings with high, tower-like superstructures and a courtyard; the inward-sloping walls are painted brown-red. This sanctuary contains several chapels with golden images of Buddhas and guardian deities. In the central chapel in the upper storey is Tsong Khapa’s tomb, a replica of the large stupa made of silver and gold in which the master was originally enclosed. Other main buildings include the Tri Dok Khang, where the abbot of Ganden lived. In a chapel on the second floor is kept a set of the ...


Molly Siuping Ho

[Kung hsien]

Site in Henan Province, China, east of the city of Luoyang. A complex of five Buddhist caves, dating from the Northern Wei period (ad 386–534), is located on the south side of Mt Mang on the northern bank of the Yiluo River. The ground level along the river is higher than the ground level inside the caves by over a metre because of dirt accumulated from flooding. The construction of the caves, sponsored by the Northern Wei imperial family, took place between c. ad 505 and 526, starting with Cave 1. In addition, many small niches and inscriptions sponsored by other devotees were carved later on the outside of the caves and bear dates ranging from ad 531 to 1735.

Cave 1, on the far west, measures 6×6 m; caves 3, 4 and 5 are successively smaller in size, and Cave 2 is unfinished. All are square in layout and, except for Cave 5, have internal central pillars. The once coherent sculpted façade between caves 1 and 2 is now in a fragmentary state. Inside the caves, all surfaces are fully sculpted. The main Buddhist images occur in configurations of three or five, in niches occupying the centre portions of the west, north and east walls and the central pillars. The ceilings of caves 1, 3 and 4 are divided into squares by crossbeams, and each square is decorated with an ...



E. Errington

[Haḍḍa; Hilo]

Site of numerous Buddhist monasteries, 8 km south-west of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. It flourished from the 1st century bc to the 8th century ad. The ancient site, known as Hilo to Chinese pilgrims of the 5th–8th century, is partially covered by a modern village. The earliest archaeological reports were compiled by Claude-Auguste Court (1827), Charles Masson (1834) and William Simpson (1878–9). Masson excavated 14 stupas, primarily at Gundi Kabul (also known as Tepe Kabul and Tepe Safed). He also uncovered the stupa at Tepe Kalan (also known as Tapa-é-Top-é-Kalan, Tope Kelan and Bordji-i Kafariha). A French delegation excavated most of the remaining ruins, including Tepe Kafariha and Bagh Gai, between 1926 and 1928. In 1965 a Japanese mission investigated Lalma, 3 km south-west of Hadda. Tepe Shotor (also known as Tapa-é-Shotor) and Tepe Kalan were excavated by the Afghan Institute of Archaeology between 1965 and ...


Ye. V. Zeymal’

Site of a small Buddhist temple complex in southern Tajikistan that flourished from the late 7th century ad to the 8th. It is situated in the Obimazar Valley, 12 km from Khovaling (anc. Khuttal’, in the region of Tokharistan). The site was excavated by Mullokandov between 1985 and 1988. The complex (c. 30×30 m) is built of clay and mud-brick and had a domed hall (room 1, 7×7 m) and a temple sanctuary (room 12) in the centre, surrounded by corridors (rooms 7–10), another sanctuary (room 20) containing a small clay stupa (3.2×3.1 m) and residential and storage rooms. In the main sanctuary (room 12) was a pedestal with a niche in the centre, flanked by columns of the kuzagi type (i.e. with a bulbous lower section). The pedestal was originally covered by an awning supported on poles. The remains of wall paintings with vegetal and geometric designs and some traces of gold leaf have been found in the corridors. The only figural painting to survive is a fragmentary scene depicting a procession of birds, possibly from a later period. The stupa in room 20 is cruciform but is much more poorly preserved than analogous stupas at Adzhina Tepe. At Hisht-Tepe over sixty miniature model stupas of two types were found, which precisely convey many details of the architectural decoration of such structures. Clay tablets of three types with a ritual text proclaiming the Buddhist teachings (...



A. P. Jamkhedkar

[Kārlī, Kārlā; anc. Valuraka]

Site of rock-cut Buddhist shrines and monasteries near Bhaja and Bedsa in Maharashtra, India. Sited on an ancient trade route, the 16 caves at Karle belong to the early phases of rock-cut architectural activity in western India. However, the intrusive figures in the verandah of Cave 8, traces of paintings in the hall of the same cave and sculpture in some of the other caves, as well as architectural features (Cave 4), show that the site continued to be occupied even after the introduction of the Buddha image.

The prayer-hall (caityagṛha) is perhaps the most remarkable example of its type. It shows an advance over earlier prayer-halls, including its immediate predecessor at Bedsa. Preceding the prayer-hall is a large column with a lion capital, the only parallel being at Kanheri. The hall proper is fronted by a verandah (about 16×4.5 m) and an outer screen of two pillars supporting a colonnade of four dwarf pillars. Entry to the hall is through a doorway and two side doors, which open into the nave and aisles respectively. Flanking the entrances are six couples (...



M. Yaldiz

[Karakhoja; Qočo; Chin. Gaochang]

Site 47 km south-east of Turfan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The most important complexes of monasteries in the Khocho area are Idikutshahri, Lenger, Senghim and Bezeklik. To the west of the town is the Chinese necropolis of Astana. The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is that a ruler of the Tujue dynasty, probably of Turkish origin, had an inscription placed on a temple of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, in Khocho in ad 445. Chinese, Sogdians and Tokharians also lived here between the 5th and 7th century. Khocho was occupied by forces of the Tang dynasty in 640. A brief Tibetan interregnum (c. 790–843) ended when the Uygurs established their kingdom here. From the evidence of their manuscripts and art objects, the Uygurs not only observed the Buddhist cult but also practised Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism (see also Central Asia §II 1., (v)...



M. Yaldiz


Site of Buddhist monastic complexes c. 40 km north-west of Kucha on the upper reaches of the Muzart River in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. So far 227 caves have been uncovered. They are in a wall of rock pierced by a ‘Great Gorge’ in the western third of the complex and two ‘small’ gulleys to the east. At the end of the main terrace of the complex of caves a narrow path below the Devil’s Caves (nos 198 and 199 in the Chinese numerical system) leads north-east along the edge of the mountain to the ‘second’ and ‘third’ complexes.

Because they are so well preserved the temples can be unhesitatingly assigned to four definite architectural categories. Type 1 is what is known as the pillar-temple, consisting of a square or rectangular cella with a pillar forming the back wall. The cult image stands on a pedestal in front of the pillar. On either side there are corridors leading into a transverse passageway and into the mountain; these are used in the ritual transformation (Skt ...



M. Yaldiz


Site of Buddhist monasteries c. 25 km south-west of Kucha in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The monasteries were built on both banks of the Muzart River, spread out over three gorges, and comprised both cave temples and free-standing buildings. The architecture is the same as that at Kizil. The wall paintings (some in situ; some Berlin, Mus. Ind. Kst) are in the first and second Indo-Iranian styles (5th–7th century ad). However, there are also caves with paintings in the style of the Chinese Tang period (ad 618–907) dating from the 8th to the 10th century, mainly in the eastern monastery site north of the Silk Route, such as the Kinnarī, Apsaras and Nirvāna caves. These paintings are similar to those at Shorchuk and Turfan further east. There are also a few paintings showing a gentle transition to a third style, such as a preaching scene (Berlin, Mus. Ind. Kst, MIK III 9024), where Indo-Iranian elements mix with Buddhist–Chinese ones, so that it is impossible to compare the drawing and colours with the work of the main schools. The facial traits of the Buddha, the flaming halo and the spotted garments are strong eastern characteristics, while the braid, lotus and clothes of the monk show influence from the west....


Frederick M. Asher


Site in Gaya District, Bihar, India. Although no excavations have been conducted, the many sculptures found at the site indicate it was the location of a Buddhist monastery. Best known among these is the hoard of 218 metal sculptures (most Patna Mus.) found when village residents were seeking bricks from the site’s main mound. Dates from the 9th to the 12th century are confirmed by inscriptions on nine of the figures. Most of the finely cast, sensitively worked metal sculptures depict the Buddha and bodhisattvas. Among these are an intricately worked Avalokiteshvara (9th century) and several crowned Buddhas (11th century). Though fewer in number, there are also images of Vishnu and Balarama.

Most of the stone sculptures at Kurkihar, almost all depicting Buddhist subjects, are collected in the courtyard of a Shiva temple known as the Devisthan, a modern construction that incorporates pillars of the 8th–12th century ad. Outstanding are figures of Manjushri, both standing and seated, and a seated Buddha. Other sculptures from Kurkihar are preserved in the Indian Museum, Calcutta....



V. A. Bulatova

[anc. Kuba; Quba]

Site in Uzbekistan, north-east of Ferghana, which flourished from the late 1st millennium bc to the 13th century ad. A Buddhist temple and settlement (c. 2 ha) was excavated in 1959–69 under V. A. Bulatova and produced ceramic and coin finds of the 7th century ad. The unusual plan of the temple suggests that it may have originated as a pagan shrine. The square sanctuary and adjoining rectangular temple building were linked by a portico, beneath which were clay sculptures comprising two equine groups and a gigantic statue of the deity. On the walls of the temple and the façade of the sanctuary dais were sculptural reliefs representing the Buddha’s life and apotheosis. Traces of painting remain on the walls of both buildings. The adjacent settlement was situated on a terraced hillside. The excavated part of the site comprised densely built artisan quarters for potters, jewellers, weavers and stone-cutters, linked by narrow alleys. Individual buildings were one or two storeys, and each comprised a central room or workshop, with a wooden roof supported on columns, off which were up to three chambers with vaulted roofs. Between the settlement and the temple was an open area for communal activities. The settlement was destroyed during the Arab conquest in the early 8th century. A large medieval town (11–12 ha), located between the archaeological site and the modern town of Kuva, was the capital of Ferghana in the 10th century but was destroyed in the 13th century during the Mongol invasions. Sculpture and other finds are displayed at the Museum of the History of Samarkand, Samarkand, and at the Tashkent Museum of the Arts of Uzbekistan, Tashkent....