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Glossary
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Amitabha (literally infinite light and infinite life) --- The Buddha who establishes the paradise at the west of this world (Western Pure Land) where suffering beings can be reborn and practice to reach enlightenment. He is also calledAmitayus.

Ananda--- Sakyamuni’s young cousin and his most learned disciple,having followed Sakyamuni the longest time and was able to memorize all the teachings. Often he flanks the Buddha on the altars in Chinese Buddhist art. 

Arhat (literally the worthy one) --- One of ten titles of a Buddha, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist. However, the later branch Mahayana claims that an arhat has not achieved perfect enlightenment.

Apsaras--- the flying celestial beings in Buddhist art.

Asana --- A sitting or standing pose. For more details, see ‘How to identify a Buddhist image’.

Avalokitesvara--- The Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. He is the most popular Bodhisattva worshipped in Mahayana Buddhism, popularly known in Chinese as Guanshiyin (观世音) or Guanyin (观音).

Asura --- One of the six categories of sentient beings, the titans warring with the gods.

Bodhisattva--- Originally a term for the stage Sakyamuni achieved before he attained enlightenment. In Mahayana Buddhism, it refers to the sentient beings who devote themselves to seeking Buddhahood for the benefit of all.

Brahmin --- A Hindu priest or teacher, also member of the highest (sacerdotal) class among the Four Castes of India.

Buddha--- An enlightened one or an awaken one. The first known Buddha is the historical one, Siddhartha Gautama, also called Sakyamuni.
Circumambulation--- An act of worship by walking around a holy object (e.g. a stupa) in clockwise direction.

Deva--- The heavenly being(s), god (devi for goddess).

Devaraja (the Heavenly Kings) --- They are the dharma guardians of the four directions. As protectors, they always appear dressed as army generals.

Dharma--- (1) The phenomena;(2) The law of universe; (3) The Buddha’s teachings.

Dhoti --- loin cloth for Hindu men in India.

Enlightenment (Sanskrit: bodhi) --- The eradication of all greed, hatred and egotism from one’s mind; and the cultivation of compassion. It is the ultimate goal of a Buddhist, which can be attained by adhering to the Buddha’s teachings.

Gandhara--- An art style that has deep Hellenistic influences. Its characteristic features are that figures are sculpted with straight, sharply chiseled profile, wavy hair, drapery robes and a contemplative attitude.

Jataka --- The stories of Sakyamuni’s previous lives.

Jingbian (经变)--- Illustrations of the narratives from a sutra.

Ksitigarbha--- Saviour from Hell. He is the only great Boddhisattva appearing in the form of a monk, usually holding a jewel in his right hand and/or a tin staff in his left.

Lifenduijin(沥粉堆金) --- A painting technique by “squeezing plaster and adhering gold foil (on the painting)”. Plaster mixed with glue was squeezed on lines or spots of a painting, such as at the image of jewelry, and then gold foil was glued while the plaster dried. It gives the effect as resplendent bas-relief.

Lotus Sutra (SaddharmapundarikaSutra, Chinese: 妙法莲华经 or 法华经;means the Lotus of the Wonderful Law) --- A very important Mahayanistsutra proclaims metaphysical concepts and the unity of all vehicles (paths) to salvation.

Mani pearl (Cintamani)--- A wish-fulfilling jewel and is used also asa metaphor for perfect wisdom.

Mahakasyapa--- A Brahmin who converted and became the disciple of Sakyamuni. After Sakyamuni’s death, he became the leader of the disciples, and directed the first assembly to recite the scriptures. He was famous for his ascetic practice.

Mahasthama (or Mahasthamaprapta, literally the extreme strength)--- A Bodhisattva representing the wisdom of Amitabha Buddha, usually flanks Amitabha with Avalokitesvara.

Mahayana (literally the Great Vehicle/Path) --- A branch of Buddhism split from Theravada, a.k.a. the Northern Buddhism (of India) which emphasizes Universalism or Salvation for all, rather than individual perfection.

Maitreya--- The Buddhist Messiah worshiped by all Buddhist schools. He will be the Buddha of the Future coming to Earth and help all the beings to enlightenment.

Manjusri--- Bodhisattva of Transcendental Wisdom. He is depicted riding on a green lion in China.

Mathura--- An art style of India In which Buddha images closely resembled the Indian male fertility gods and have shorter, curlier hair, and lighter robes which look transparent or simply suggested by a few lines.

Medicine Buddha(Sanskrit: Bhaisajaguru) --- The Buddha of Healing who establishes the paradise at the east of this world (Eastern Pure Land). He cures physical diseases as well as inner illness of greed, hatred and ignorance.

Meditation--- A step in the spiritual practice to concentrate one’s mind to understand the meaning of life.

Mudra--- A symbolic hand gesture to show the universal meanings of life. For details, see ‘Who is This’.

Nirvana--- The ultimate goal of a Buddhist. The state in which all vaxations and sufferings from samsara (the cycle of birth-and-death) are extinguished.

Prabhutaratna (literally abundant treasures) --- A Buddha of the past usually appears together with Sakyamuni to praise the teaching of Lotus Sutra.

Pure Land--- A paradise where sentient beings can strive toward enlightenment, and be free from the sufferings and difficulties of life on earth.

Sakyamuni(literally the Saint from the Sakya Clan) --- The historical BuddhaSiddhartha Gautama (c.600 BC).

Samantabhadra --- The Bodhisattva of Universal Worthy. He is always depicted riding on a six-tusked white elephant in China.

Samsara --- the endless cycle of birth-and-death. The sentient beings are reborn within these six realms as: a deva (god), a human being, an asura, an animal, a hungry ghost or a being in hell.

Sassanian--- The last great Iranian empire (224-651 AD) before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam in Western Asia.

Stupa --- A religious structure which serves as a receptacle for relics or just a site of worship and pilgrimage, representing the Buddha.

Sumeru--- The cosmic mountain at the centre of the universe, shaped like an hourglass.

Sutra--- The Buddhist scriptures.

Theravada (literally the Elders’ Teachings) --- A form of Buddhism, a.k.a. the Southern Buddhism (of India), which is closer to the originally teachings of the Buddha than the other forms.

Usnisa--- Flesh protuberance on the crown of the Buddha’s head, one of his thirty-two distinctive and auspicious physical marks.

Urna--- A white curl hair on the Buddha’s forehead, one of his thirty-two distinctive and auspicious physical marks.

Vajra (literally diamond) --- A symbol of indestructibility, the power of wisdom over illusion and evil spirits. It also means a thunderbolt, a ritual object symbolizing a weapon to conquer vexation. For details, see ‘Who is This’.

Vajrapani--- A dharma guardian who holds a vajra (the thunderbolt). In Chinese Buddhist iconography they are depicted as wrestlers and the vajra is not always shown.

Vajrayana (literally the Diamond Vehicle/Path) --- A form of Buddhism also known as Tantrayana. Itis esoteric and highly symbolic. It was the last phrase of Indian Buddhism.

Vimalakirti --- A rich lay Buddhist who reaches enlightenment without monastic practice.

Yunran (晕染) --- A technique of image colouring from Indiaand was assimilated into the Chinese painting technique.

Zaojing (藻井)--- The decorated coffer insetat the crown of a pyramidal ceiling.