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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.

Ringed by a wall and votive chortens (stupas), the religious enclave (Tib. chökhor) comprises three entrance chortens, a number of shrines and temples, the Dukhang (assembly hall) with its courtyard and monastic dwellings (see Tibet §II, and Indian subcontinent §III 6., (i), (a)...

Article

Frederick M. Asher

and Gaya [Bodhgayā and Gayā]

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 bc probably drew Siddhartha Gautama to its outskirts, to the place now known as Bodhgaya, where, following profound meditation, he became a Buddha (Enlightened One). The tree under which he meditated (the bodhi tree) became an object of veneration; initially it was surrounded by a hypaethral temple (Pali bodhighara), the general form of which is known from relief sculptures of the 2nd–1st centuries bc at Bodhgaya and other sites (see also Indian subcontinent, §III, 3). A stone slab (Skt vajrāsana) at the site, dating to the 3rd century bc, carries motifs similar to those found on contemporary Mauryan pillars (see...

Article

J. Marr and Christopher Tadgell

[Daulatābād; anc. Devagiri, Deogiri]

Fortress site in central Maharashtra, India, a key link in the chain of forts that once controlled the Deccan. The conical mountain of granite, rising over 180 m, was originally a Buddhist monastic site; some of its excavated shrines were incorporated into the earliest defences, which were probably created in the 9th century ad by a feudatory of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. In 1187, the Yadava king Billama V (reg 1185–93) made Devagiri his capital, after which a succession of dynasties vied for its control. Devagiri first fell in 1293 to the powerful Sultanate armies of ‛Ala al-Din Khalji (reg 1296–1316). The Jami‛ Masjid (congregational mosque) was founded in 1318; recycled temple pillars figure in its construction. After the Tughluq dynasty took control of the Sultanate in 1320, they continued a policy of expansion into the Deccan. In 1328, feeling that Delhi was too far from his military operations, Muhammad Tughluq (...

Article

Dorothy C. Wang

[Tun-huang.]

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 ...

Article

Bruce A. Coats

[Kūtaiji; Kūdaiji; Kubonji]

Buddhist temple and garden near Nara in the Sōraku District, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. It is a temple of the Pure Land (Jōdo) sect of Esoteric Buddhism. The present compound contains a honden (main hall), a pagoda and a pond garden. Alone among Pure Land temples, Jōruriji retains its original 12th-century garden designed to look like the Western Paradise. Temple records indicate that the temple was established in 1047 with the construction of a honden dedicated to Yakushi (Skt Bhaishajyaguru; the Buddha of healing). It was reconstructed in 1107 as a hall for the worship of Amida (Skt Amitabha; Buddha of the Western Paradise) and moved to its present position in 1157.

The Amida Hall (Amidadō) stands on the western side of the pond. It is a wooden post-and-beam structure in the yosemune zukuri (‘hipped-gable roof construction’) format, 11 bays long and 4 bays deep, and is the only extant example of a ...

Article

Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan

[Kōya, Mt; Kōyasan; Kōyasanji; Kōyasan Kongōbuji]

Japanese Buddhist temple and shrine complex in Ito district, Wakayama Prefecture. Lying about 70 km south of Osaka on Mt Kōya (Kōyasan), a plateau on the eastern slope of the Takamine range, it was founded in the 9th century ad as the headquarters of the Shingon sect (see Buddhism §III 10.) and is one of the two main centres of Esoteric Buddhism (mikkyō) in Japan (see also Enryakuji). At Amano Jinja (Amano Shrine) on the north-western flank of the uplands, Niu Myōjin and Kōya Myōjin, the chief Shinto tutelary deities of the complex, are enshrined. The complex now occupies c. 12 sq. km of hilly terrain, encompassing some 125 structures and housing important art works.

Kongōbuji’s founder, Kōbō Daishi (see Kūkai), had spent the years 804–6 in China studying the system of tantric belief that was to be the basis of Shingon teachings and was seeking a suitable location to perform the religious exercises and Esoteric rituals required by these beliefs. In 816 he received from Emperor Saga (...

Article

Pagan  

Pierre Pichard and Richard M. Cooler

[Pali Arimaddanapura]

Capital of the first kingdom of Burma from the 11th to the 14th century. Famous for its temples and other religious monuments, Pagan was probably founded in the 9th century ad. The city’s official Pali name, meaning ‘crusher of foes’, appears in contemporary stone inscriptions. The name Pagan is first mentioned (as Pukam) in Chinese sources c. 1004 and in a Cham inscription from Po Nagar in Vietnam dated 1050. Pagan’s foreign relations were mostly with eastern India (Bengal and Orissa), Sri Lanka, the Mon kingdoms to the south and China. The chief influences on its architecture and arts came from Burma itself (Pyu and Mon), from eastern India and from Sri Lanka.

Pierre Pichard

The city is on a bend of the Irrawaddy River in the arid region of central Burma, described in ancient inscriptions as tattadessa (the parched land). Its subsistence was always dependent on the rice-producing areas of Kyaukse, some 170 km upstream, and Minbu, 110 km downstream. The site is an alluvial terrace on the east bank of the river. It is bordered on the south-east by a low hill range; a higher range closes the western horizon across the river. At the foot of the south-east range a dam was built in the 12th century to store water during the meagre rainy season (June to November). A few other reservoirs were set up in the plain, but no evidence of irrigation channels has been found. Several streams cross the site from the east to the Irrawaddy; they are dry most of the year, their sandy beds used as cart tracks. Most of the plain is cultivated (palm trees and dry crops such as millet, sesame, cotton and groundnuts). About 36,000 people live in several villages within the archaeological area of some 13×8 km....