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  • Architecture

  • Caves &

  • Sculpture

  • Painting

  • Calligraphy
    & Seal
  • Artifacts &

  • People

  • Index


Buddhist architecture has a long history. Following the spread of Buddhism, Buddhist architecture developed from monasteries and stupas in India to myriad forms integrating local cultures.

The architecture category is comprised of four volumes. The 1,467 selected entries with 3,103 colorful pictures display Buddhist architectures of historical and artistic values, such as historical sites, monasteries, stupas, and sutra pillars. The first volume contains an overview that details the history, architectural layout, features, and artistic styles of Buddhist architecture. The appendices in the fourth volume list different forms of halls, stupas, and pagodas.

Caves & Rock Carvings

Buddhist caves were constructed along rock cliff for secluded practice. The caves were constructed with niches containing Buddhist images, turning these caves into Buddhist art galleries.

The Caves and Rock Carvings category is made up of five volumes. There are 1,788 selected entries with 3,062 pictures that illustrate Buddhist caves and rock carvings of historical and artistic values. The first volume contains an overview that details the development of Buddhist caves and rock carvings across the world. The appendices in the last volume list different types of caves, different forms of niches, and the distribution of selected caves and rock carvings.


When the Buddha was giving teachings to his mother in the Trayastrimsa Heaven, having missed the presence of the Buddha, King Udayana gave instructed for an image of the Buddha to be sculpted. This marks the beginning of Buddhist sculpture.

The sculpture category consists of four volumes. It includes 2,326 selected entries with 3,217 pictures of Buddhist sculptures from temples and museums around the world. These entries include symbols from the aniconic phase, and Buddhist figures in the iconic period.

The overview in the first volume details the origin, development, and artistic features of the Buddhist sculptures. The appendices in the last volume list different thrones and pedestals, nimbuses, aureoles, and mandalas, mudras and postures, and sculptural techniques.


As Buddhist paintings are relatively easy to produce, transport, and adapt, they have a larger impact on the development of Buddhist propagation. The Painting category consists of three volumes that have 1,399 selected entries with 2,732 pictures including temple murals, engravings, and rubbings, as well as silk and paper artworks collected by museums around the world.

The volume contains an overview that details types and styles of Buddhist paintings in different regions and countries. The appendices in the last volume list different types of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors.

Calligraphy & Seal Engraving

This category consists of 411 selected entries with 632 images. These entries are important evidences of Buddhist calligraphy and seal engraving works for the past two thousand years, including sutra transcription, sutra engravings, stele, precept certificates, official letters, certificates of spiritual achievements, Buddhist verses, letter requesting donations, sutra announcement boards, and couplets.

There are two overviews introducing Buddhist calligraphy and Buddhist seal engraving respectively. The appendices show different calligraphy forms, calligraphy scripts, calligraphy terminology, and seal terminology.

Artifacts & Decorative Arts

The Artifacts & Decorative Arts category includes 917 selected entries with 1,394 pictures of a collection of Buddhist artifacts from all over the world, including offerings, reliquaries, mandalas, figurines, and so on.

The overview in the first volume introduces the development of Buddhist artifacts in various countries. These artworks reflect the influence of Buddhist faith on everyday lives. The appendices on common techniques and Buddhist objects provide information on the richness and variety of Buddhist artifacts.


The people category contains 919 selected entries with 809 pictures show a list of artists and artisans, some of whom have remained anonymous. This is the first compilation of people in the history of Buddhist art.

The overview in this volume gives an introduction to people and their contributions to the history of Buddhist art.


The index volume provides acknowledgements, combined list of entries, bibliography, photo credits, chronology, Sanskrit terms with diacritic marks, English-Chinese conversion list, glossary, and combined index.