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Representations of the Buddha
Strayer, pp. 225-235
• Why might the wheel
serve as an effective
symbol of the Buddha’s
• What does the inclusion
of the yukshis add to the
message of this image?
• What overall religious
message might this
footprint convey to those
who gazed upon it?
• What might account for the
emergence of human images of
the Buddha?
• What overall impression or
religious meaning is this statue
intended to convey?
• The elongated earlobes remind
the viewer that, earlier in his
life, they prince Siddhartha had
worn heavy and luxurious
earrings. What does their
absence suggest about his
transformation as the Buddha?
• Notice the partially closed and
downcast eyes of the Buddha
as well as his bare feet. What
might these features suggest?
• What elements of Buddhist
imagery can you identify in this
• To whom might such an image
appeal? Why?
• Notice the lotus flower, for
centuries a rich Buddhist
symbol, on which the
bodhisattva is resting. With its
roots in the mud, the lotus
emerges on the surface of the
water as a pure, beautiful, and
fragrant flower. Why would the
artist choose to place the
bodhisattva atop such a flower?
• Some scholars have identified
similarities between the
Bodhisattva of Compassion and
the Virgin Mary in the Christian
tradition. What common
elements and what differences
can you identify?
• How does this Buddha
image differ, both
physically and in its
religious implications,
from the Buddhas in the
previous images?
• Why might this image be
appealing to some
Buddhists, and why might
others take exception to
• In what ways does this
figure represent an
adaptation of Buddhist
imagery to Chinese
culture? Consider what
you know about
Confucian and Daoist
postures to the world.
• Why do you think the practice
of Pure Land Buddhism
became so widely popular in
China by the mid-seventh
century? What features of this
image might help to explain its
• What details from this
painting support the sacred
character of the Buddha and
bodhisattva figures?
• What is the significance of the
small figure sitting in
meditation under a tree at the
bottom left of this painting?
• What transformations in Buddhist belief and practice
are disclosed in these images?
• What evidence do these images provide about the
blending of Buddhism into a variety of cultural
• What do these images suggest about the appeal of
Buddhism to growing numbers of people across Asia?
• To what extent are these images meaningful to people
outside of the Buddhist tradition? In what ways do they
speak to universal human needs or desires? What is
specifically Buddhist or Asian about them?