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ARTH-370: Buddhist Art | Dr. Hong

Midterm Paper

The midterm paper is a research paper written about a piece of Buddhist artwork, or a pair of comparative artworks, from a major American museum collection, such as the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Further details are about the paper are available on the Canvas page for the course.

It is recommended that if possible you visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum to prepare your paper. On this page you will find a list of online museum collections you can visit virtually and selected books and databases for secondary sources to support your paper. Visit the Writing & Citing page on this guide for tips on how to write about art. 

Concept Mapping

A concept map is:

  • a visual tool for generating and organizing ideas
  • a way to explore different aspects of a topic
  • a method for triggering word associations

Use a concept map to:

  • aid thinking at the beginning of the research process
  • create a visual overview of a topic
  • develop questions on a topic
  • reveal patterns, themes, and associations between ideas
  • generate search terms to conduct research

The process is simple: start with the subject of your research question in the center, then in the space around the central concept, write words or phrases for any relevant subtopics or ideas. Then, for each of your focus subtopics, add related keywords or terms to your map.         Concept map with "research question" in the center. Four lines radiate out from the central idea, each labelled "main idea" with each of those having three smaller bubbles coming off it, all labeled "keyword"

You can use concept mapping software from Miro or Figma to create your concept map. Pencil and paper also work.

Example of a mind map on Will Smith's body in science fiction films

What's a tertiary source?

Tertiary sources are excellent starting points!  They consist of information synthesized from primary and secondary sources.  Examples include:

  • Almanacs
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
  • Directories
  • Fact books
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks

These resources give you succinct overviews of your topic, explain scholarly arguments, point out interesting questions, and refer you to especially key sources. 

Oxford Art Online

Covers biographies, criticism, country surveys, artistic styles and movements, art forms, subject matter and iconography, and techniques. Note: Limit of 3 simultaneous users.

Tertiary Sources (dictionaries and encyclopedias)

Reading Buddhist art : an illustrated guide to Buddhist signs and symbols

All the principal symbols, objects, and figures of Buddhist worship are gathered here in a rich, informative, and easy-to-use book that will serve equally well as an art-lover's reference tool and as an introduction to the principles of the religion.

cover art links to catalog record

Dictionary of Buddhist and Hindu Iconography

Compiled by a distinguished scholar of Buddhist Art; a dictionary of thousands of Buddhist and Hindu iconic representations.

Encyclopedia of Buddhism

This encyclopedia describes the Buddhist world view, basic teachings and practices of Buddhism, as well as its different schools and sects.

A Dictionary of Buddhism

Covers both historical and contemporary issues in Buddhism, and includes all Buddhist schools and cultures. Appendices include a chronology and a guide to canonical scriptures as well as a pronunciation guide for names and terms.

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism

The most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of Buddhism ever produced in English.

What's a secondary source?

In secondary sources, authors analyze and interpret primary source materials. 

Secondary sources can be scholarly or popular.  Scholarly sources (sometimes called "academic" or "peer-reviewed" sources) are written by and for experts and typically include bibliographies and citations.  Popular sources are written for a general, non-expert audience and can be authored by anyone.

Books on Buddhist Art

How to Read Buddhist Art

An indispensable introduction to the evolution of Buddhist imagery from its origins in India through its spread to China, Japan, and South Asia.

Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art

A comprehensive study of the relationship between Buddhist pilgrimage and Asian visual culture.

Buddhist Art and Architecture

The author describes all the Buddhist schools and cultures, and explains their imagery, from Tibetan cosmic diagrams and Korean folk art to early Sri Lankan sites and Japanese Zen gardens.

Buddhist art in south-east Asia : the Indian influence on the art of Thailand

Connects the history of different forms of Buddhist art which flourished in South-East Asia, especially Thailand, from the early years of Christian era up to the end of the sixteenth century.

Transmitting the forms of divinity : early Buddhist art from Korea and Japan

Comparing Korean and Japanese Buddhist art, this volume explores the cultural, ideological and artistic exchange between the two countries during the 6th-9th centuries, when Buddhism took hold throughout northeast Asia.

The flowering of a foreign faith : new studies in Chinese Buddhist art

This book presents new research on topics which center around the question of how Chinese Buddhist art evolved and what characterizes it as distinctly Chinese.


Search these databases to find articles.