Buddhism dates back to the 6th century BC and was founded by a prince, Siddhartha Gautama, who was later given the name of Buddha. The V&A holds one of the most important Asian collections in the UK containing Central, South, South East and East Asian Buddhist sculptures and paintings.
Buddhism & the Life of the Buddha
The legends associated with the major events of the Buddha's life, given here in condensed form, are based on a number of sources. Among the most important is the Buddhacarita or 'The Acts of the Buddha', the first full length biography of the Buddha written by an Indian poet called Ashvaghosha in the 1st century AD.
The Radiant Buddha
This standing figure of the Buddha Sakyamuni is one of only a tiny number of Indian metal Buddha images surviving from a formative period in the development of the image of Buddha. Its style was to have a far-reaching influence throughout Asia. The sculpture shows the Buddha standing with his hand raised in a gesture of benevolent reassurance known as abhaya-mudra.
The Mandalay Shrine
The shrine, and its associated group of objects, bring together the skills of several craftsmen and unite them in the service of Buddhism, which was the purpose of a great deal of Burmese art. But although it may be possible to imagine the brilliant surroundings in which the shrine was originally placed as the object of devout adoration, its links with royalty and the symbolism of its design are not immediately obvious.
Explore Buddhist pilgrimage across Asia from the most famous Indian sites associated with the Buddha's life to more distant sites in Korea, China and Japan. Read about the most famous Buddhist pilgrims of the past and follow the routes of the two most important early Chinese pilgrims to India.