Buddhist symbolism

Buddhist symbolism

Buddhist symbolism appeared from around the 3rd century BCE, and started with aniconic symbolism, avoiding direct representations of the Buddha. Anthropomorphic symbolism appeared from around the 1st century CE with the arts of Mathura and the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, and were combined with the previous symbols. Various symbolic innovations were later introduced, especially through Tibetan Buddhism.

Early aniconic symbols

[
Buddha. 1st century, Gandhara, with depictions of the triratna and the Dharmacakra.]

Among the earliest and most common symbols of Buddhism are the stupa, Dharma wheel, and the lotus flower. The dharma wheel, traditionally represented with eight spokes, can have a variety of meanings. It initially only meant royalty (concept of the "Monarch of the Wheel, or "Chakravatin"), but started to be used in a Buddhist context on the Pillars of Ashoka during the 3rd century BCE. The Dharma wheel is generally seen as referring to the historical process of teaching the buddhadharma; the eight spokes refer to the Noble Eightfold Path. The lotus, as well, can have several meanings, often referring to the inherently pure potential of the mind.

The swastika was traditionally used in India by Buddhists and Hindus as a good luck sign. In East Asia, the swastika is often used as a general symbol of Buddhism. Swastikas used in this context can either be left or right-facing.

Other early aniconic symbols include the trisula, a symbol use since around the 2nd century BCE that combine the lotus, the vajra diamond rod and a symbolization of the three jewels (The Buddha, the dharma, the sangha).

The first hint of a human representation in Buddhist symbolism appear with the Buddha footprint.

Physical characteristics of the Buddha

Although the Buddha was not represented in human form until around the 1st century CE (see Buddhist art), the Physical characteristics of the Buddha are described in one of the central texts of the traditional Pali canon, the Digha Nikaya, in the discourse titled "Sutra of the Marks" (Pali: "Lakkhana Sutta") (D.iii.142ff.).

These characteristics comprise 32 signs, "The 32 signs of a Great Man" (Pali: "Lakkhana Mahapurisa 32"), and were supplemented by another 80 Secondary Characteristics (Pali:"Anubyanjana"). These traits are said to have defined the appearance of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama and have been used symbolically in many of his representations.

Mudras

The Mudras are a series of symbolic hand gestures describing the actions of the characters represented in only the most interesting Buddhist art.

Eight auspicious symbols

Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist art frequently makes use of a particular set of eight auspicious symbols, "ashtamangala", in household and public art. These symbols have spread with Buddhism to many cultures' arts, including Indian, Tibetan, Nepalese, and Chinese art.

These symbols include:

# Endless knot, or, the Mandala. Representing harmony.
# Lotus flower. Representing enlightenment.
# Victory Banner. Representing a victorious battle.
# Wheel of Dharma or Chamaru in Nepali Buddhism. Representing knowledge.
# Treasure Vase. Representing inexhaustible treasure and wealth.
# Golden Fish pair. Representing conjugal happiness and freedom.
# Parasol. Representing the crown, and protection from the elements.
# Conch shell. Representing the thoughts of the Buddha.

International symbols of the World Fellowship of Buddhists

At its founding in 1952, the World Fellowship of Buddhists adopted two symbols [http://www.mandala.hr/5/relations.html] . These were a traditional eight-spoked dharma wheel and the five-colored flag which had been designed in Sri Lanka in the 1880s with the assistance of Henry Steele Olcott [http://www.dailynews.lk/2003/06/04/fea06.html] .

ee also

* Buddhist art
* Mandala
* Religious symbolism
* Tibetan art
* Chinese art
* Japanese art

External links

* [http://www.fpmt-osel.org/gallery/signs.htm web site showing iconic representations of the 8 auspicious symbols along with explanations]
* [http://www.kheper.net/topics/Buddhism/symbols.html the eight auspicious symbols of buddhism — a study in spiritual evolution]
* [http://buddhism.kalachakranet.org/general_symbols_buddhism.html General Buddhist Symbols]
* [http://www.nepalscraft.com/astamangal_eight_auspicious_symbols.asp web site showing hand carvings on metal crafts of the 8 auspicious symbols along with explanations]
* [http://www.meditateinlondon.org.uk/buddhist-symbols.php Buddhist Symbols: the Eight Auspicious Signs]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Buddhist art — Part of a series on Buddhism Outline · Portal History Timeline · Councils …   Wikipedia

  • Symbolism — Religious symbolism Buddhist symbolism Christian symbolism Jewish symbolism Solar symbols Hindu Symbolism Jain Symbolism Sikh Symbolism Islamic Symbolism Representationalism United States military chaplain symbols Arts Symbolism (arts) or… …   Wikipedia

  • Buddhist cuisine — Buddhist Vegetarian Cuisine A vegetarian restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan serving Buddhist cuisine in buffet style Chinese name Traditional Chinese …   Wikipedia

  • Buddhist prayer beads — Juzu Buddhist prayer beads are a traditional tool used to count the number of times a mantra is recited whilst meditating. They are similar to other forms of prayer beads used in various world religions; thus some call this tool the Buddhist… …   Wikipedia

  • Buddhist meditation — Part of a series on Buddhism Outline · Portal History Timeline · Councils …   Wikipedia

  • Buddhist philosophy — Part of a series on Buddhism Outline · Portal History Timeline · Councils …   Wikipedia

  • Buddhist texts — Chinese Song Period Maha prajna paramita Sutra Page, Nantoyōsō Collection, Japan Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms scripture and canonical are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars:… …   Wikipedia

  • Greco-Buddhist art — is the artistic manifestation of Greco Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th …   Wikipedia

  • religious symbolism and iconography — Introduction       respectively, the basic and often complex artistic forms and gestures used as a kind of key to convey religious concepts and the visual, auditory, and kinetic representations of religious ideas and events. Symbolism and… …   Universalium

  • Religious symbolism in the United States military — Insignias (left to right) for Christian, Muslim and Jewish chaplains are shown on the uniforms of three U.S. Navy chaplains, 1998. (These were the only insignias in use at that time.) Religious symbolism in the United States military includes the …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”