nl en

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 requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Contractonderwijs / à la carte onderwijs.

Studeren à la carte


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