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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 other parts of South and Southeast Asia. In particular, we discuss the form, function and development of reliquaries, Buddha and Bodhisattva images, the biography of the Buddha in art, stupas, temples, and mandalas. In the first block the focus is on South Asia and in the second on Southeast Asia. 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 at the end of the course.

Course objectives

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

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

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

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



Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Students are expected to actively participate in the lectures through a thorough preparation of the weekly readings.

Course load

5 EC

  • Meetings: 12 × 2 = 24h

  • Weekly readings: 10 × 6 = 60h

  • Book (200 pp): 40h

  • Preparation of exams: 2 × 8 = 16h

Assessment method

Two written examinations with essay questions (we): one at the end of block 1 (50%) and one at the end of block 2 (50%); The average counts. If the average is below 5.49 (=6) or lower there is a resit (100%) combining the two examinations in the resit period. You cannot do the resit if your average is 5.50 (=6) or higher.


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

Reading list

See Blackboard.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Contractonderwijs / à la carte onderwijs.

Studeren à la carte


Mw. Prof.dr. M.J. Klokke
Mw. Dr. E.M. Raven


Other Buddhism related courses

At BA-level
Fall Semester
Anthropology and Buddhism in Asia
Buddhism through Stories
Culture of Tibet
Introduction to Buddhism
Japanse religies en boeddhisme
Virtue, Vice and Depravity: Buddhist and Contemporary Accounts
Iconography of South and Southeast Asia
Elementary Pali
Tibetan 1

Spring Semester
Architecture: The Temple and the Stupa
Chinese Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibet: State and Society
Sacred Biography in Buddhism and Jainism
Indian Philosophy
Tibetan 2

At MA-level
Buddhism and Social Justice
Reading Buddhist Scriptures
Virtue, Vice and Depravity: Buddhist and Contemporary Accounts

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).