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Impact of Buddhism on Art and Architecture in Thailand and Burma

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All types of civilizations have produced cultures which as a result have led into creation of art and architecture, philosophy, literature, music and social dance, ethics and behavior and religion.

Buddhism has contributed a number of things to various nations in the world. This article explores on the profound analysis of and a practical solution for the problem of human beings and heritage to the world of art and architecture. The images of Tathagata by Buddha were meant to teach and encourage people to follow his example and be self reliant and therefore work towards putting an end to human suffering (Tambiah, Stanley, pp 67).


To begin with, the earliest artistic tributes to Buddha Gotama which are the abstract symbols indicate major achievements in his life. They are meant to remind people of his teaching and therefore inspire them inlife. The Buddha’s footprints represent his acts that were directed towards achieving perfection.  Another representation is the Bodhi-tree which is a symbolic of Gotama’s enlightment at the age thirty five. The lotus flower symbolizes purity. The wheel is a clear reminder of the Buddha’s first sermon and also suffering in Samsara in Tibetan Buddhism. A rider’s horse normally is used to recall Prince Siddhattha’s renunciation. An empty throne symbolizes his passing away and also the attaining of Parinibbana (Kabilsingh Chatsumarm, pp 85).


Terwiel, Jonh, (pp 398) emphasizes that the Theravada and Mahayana were the schools created to contribute to development of many types of Buddhist art and architecture. Beliefs and ideals were mirrored in the art and architecture created by Theravadins and Mahayanists throughout the history of Buddhism.    Arahat is the ideal for The Theravadins who seeks to remove suffering and rebirth in Samsara by renouncing the world, and through the eradication of greed, hatred and delusion. The Mahayana’s concentrate on rite and rituals that purify the mind.  In Thailand the appearance of bidhisattva Lokesvara were used to reveal the influence of Mahayana. The images of Maitreya often in Budai form are used for dedication to worship to the end.

Therefore, the above mentioned examples show how beliefs and religion especially in Thailand and Burma have had an impact or contributed to the art and architecture. It is evident that these examples of Buddhism as a practice in Burma and Thailand have contributed greatly in the world’s art and architecture (specifically in these two countries).


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