Aniconism in Buddhism

Aniconism in Buddhism

Buddhist art used to be aniconicFact|date=February 2007: the Buddha was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi tree, the Buddha's footprints, the prayer wheel). This reluctance towards anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha, and the sophisticated development of aniconic symbols to avoid it (even in narrative scenes where other human figures would appear), seem to be connected to one of the Buddha's sayings, reported in the Digha Nikaya, that discouraged representations of himself after the extinction of his body.Fact|date=February 2007 Although there is still some debate, the first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha himself are often considered a result of the Greco-Buddhist interaction. Fact|date=February 2007

However, in recent times, the notion of aniconism in Buddhism was challenged by a number of Buddhologists.Fact|date=February 2007 They point to the fact there is only one indirect reference for the doctrine to be found, and that pertaining to only one sect. As for the archeological evidence, it shows anthropomorphic sculptures of Buddha actually existing during the supposedly aniconic period, which ended in the first centuries CE. [(Huntington 1990) [] ]

See also

* Iconoclasm
* Censorship, Censorship by organized religion



*Jack Goody, "Representations and Contradictions: Ambivalence Towards Images, Theatre, Fiction, Relics and Sexuality", London, Blackwell Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-631-20526-8.


*S. L. Huntington, "Early Buddhist art and the theory of aniconism", "Art Journal", 49:4 (1990): 401-8. []
* Rob Linrothe, "Inquiries into the Origin of the Buddha

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