The Buddhist Art module introduces you to the religious, historical and geographic context for the spread of Buddhism and Buddhist art across Asia: from Buddhism’s origins two and a half millennia ago in Northern India, to its current status as a global religion. The course begins with a brief overview of the life and teachings of the Buddha and considers the earliest Buddhist images in South Asia. We then trace the movement of Buddhist images, ideas and beliefs across the deserts and mountains of Central Asia into China. Exploring the adaptations and developments of Buddhism in China, we go on to examine how these iterations of Buddhist art and culture acted as a catalyst for subsequent developments; first in Korea and Japan, and later in Southeast Asia, Vietnam, Java and Cambodia. The course also explores how Esoteric Buddhism reached its apogee in Tibet and Theravadin Buddhism engendered distinctive forms of Buddhist art in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia.
In exploring the diverse incarnations of Buddhist art across Asia, this course offers a broad and immersive introduction to the visual and material manifestations of one of the world’s most significant religions.
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