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Buddhist Art


Admission requirements



Buddhism had a globalizing effect on the art of Asia, once it began to spread from the Indian subcontinent to the South (Sri Lanka) and the East (East and Southeast Asia). The spread of Buddhism and its contact with local cultures also led to processes of localization. This course focuses on the Indian origins of Buddhist art as well as on such processes of globalization and localization as expressed in Buddhist art and material culture in various parts of Asia. In particular, we discuss the form, function and development of reliquaries, Buddha and Bodhisattva images, narrative art, temples, stupas and mandalas.
We expect students to be actively involved, prepare weekly readings, and contribute to discussions in class. If possible, we will organize an excursion to Musée Guimet in Paris.

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge of the form, function and development of Buddhist art and material culture in Asia

  • Insight into the religious foundation and socio-cultural embedding of Buddhist art and material culture in Asia

  • Insight in dynamic processes such as globalization and interculturalization as expressed in Buddhist art

  • Ability to analyse scholarly literature, distinguish between main and side subjects, ask critical questions


See website

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Two examinations: one at the end of block 3 (40%) and one at the end of block 4 (60%)); the resit in the resit period is a combination of the two examinations (100%).


Powerpoint presentations and readings (conform to copyright rules) will be posted on blackboard.

Reading list

Karel R. van Kooij and Pauline Lunsingh Scheurleer (eds), 1997, A companion to Buddhist art. Leiden: Faculty of Arts (pdf on Blackboard), and weekly readings to be announced at the beginning of the course.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

Registration A la carte en contractonderwijs

Registration A la Carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


M.J. Klokke