Chapter 5. Buddhist

Mahabodhi temple

The navel of the earth, the Bodhi tree, and the Great Awakening Temple at Bodh Gaya are where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment around 589 BCE. The earliest temple was built around the Bodhi tree to protect it. After the fifth century a stepped pyramid with a round stupa finial housed a golden buddha with a safron robe sitting on a raised platform.

Sanchi stupa

The Great Stupa at Sanchi is a hemispherical brick dome built over the relics of the Buddha. At the top of the dome is a square fence around a small parasol, which symbolizes high rank and symbolically shelters the relics.

Borobudur candi

The world of desire, the world of forms, and the world of formlessness. Thousands of relief panels, hundreds of statues, nine platforms stacked up, and topped by a central dome. On platform six, sixty-four Buddhas sit inside stupas. From the sky the design is like a mandala.

Pagoda of Ichijō-ji

This three-storeyed pagoda with broad tile roofs completed in 1171 and having survived fires that destroyed the temple complex twice, is an example of the wayō style developed during the Heian period. The Ichijō-ji temple is number twenty-six in the Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage. Inside, a central pole, continued by the spire at the top, symbolizes Mount Sumeru, the center of the universe.

Pagoda spire

The iron pinnacle of the Ichijō-ji pagoda was not designed as a lightning rod, nor as a prototype of a space-alien ray gun. The whole idea was borrowed from India via China; it’s based on the Buddhist stupa, a mound or tower for the ashes of Buddha or for the ashes of an honored temple priest, which are called the buisshari. The topmost knob, below its point, is the hoju, marking a place to enshrine the buisshari. The second knob is the ryusha, which symbolizes a courier of a person with high status. Below the ryusha is a filligree in a branching pattern, which is called the suien, which means water, but, originally, it represented fire, the fire of a funeral pyre. The Ichijō-ji suien has four fins, one for each cardinal direction. Below the suien are nine rings. These are the horin that symbolize the five honored names of Buddha and the four stages of the path of becoming a bodhisattva. Just above the base of the spire is the ukebana, symbolizing the petals of a lotus. Beauty arises from the grave. The base of the spire, just above the lotus, is hemispherical dome called a fusebachi, which symbolizes the grave mound.