Buddhist Art

Our offerings in Buddhist art (SCA) reflect the category of creative arts. Our Science of Creative Arts department offers classes in Thangka Painting and iconographic art.

These classes are often taught during the Summer Institute, but can also be held locally upon request if there is enough interest.

Upcoming Creative Arts Classes

From the Course Catalog

SCA 510 Symbolizing the Awakened Heart: Buddhist Visual Literacy

This course develops a basis for exploring and understanding Buddhist symbolism and iconography through the use of classic Buddhist teachings on seeming and ultimate realities, as well as understanding the roles of conception and perception. Students enhance their learning with experiential exercises and explore how meaning is made and communicated when producing and viewing representations. Part of the course involves researching Buddhist symbols —the basis of Buddhist iconography— and applying visual literacy skills when reading a Buddhist thangka.

PREREQUISITE: None

REQUIRED TEXTS: Course pack of readings

SCA 520 Lineage Essence and Expression: The Golden Rosary

This course uses an ancient iconographic set of thangkas to explore Tibetan Buddhist art and history, and the role of lineage and transmission in the Karma Kagyü. It relies on an understanding of Buddhist Visual Literacy and puts it into use. Class topics include: history and styles of thangka painting with a focus on the Karma Gadri (Encampment) style, applying Buddhist visual literacy to reading a thangka painting, symbolism, iconography, lineage, transmission and specifically the Kagyü Lineage.

PREREQUISITE: SCA 510 preferred

REQUIRED TEXTS: Course Sourcebook

SCA 530 The Bodhisattva Ideal Throughout Asian Art

An overview and exploration of bodhisattva in terms of the meaning and ideal, followed by the who and the what. Using the Eight Great Bodhisattvas and particularly the three main ones, the course explores their representations across different Asian cultures and periods, tracking the characteristics that are iconographic and those that are non-iconographic. Coursework includes slide presentations, lectures, discussion and a final art project. This course relies on an understanding of Buddhist visual literacy and puts it into use. Class topics include: history of bodhisattvas and their styles of representation in paintings and statues with a focus on bodhisattvas throughout Asian culture, applying Buddhist visual literacy to reading their symbolism, iconography and seeming iconography and the bodhisattva ideal.

PREREQUISITE: SCA 510 preferred

REQUIRED TEXTS: Course Sourcebook

SCA 540 Studio 1

Students learn the classic measurement system (thikse) of the Karma Gadri system and apply it to draw a Buddha head, a seated Buddha, and a Tara head. Materials are provided in class. Students are also welcome to bring their own materials. A materials list is provided to registrants. Class topics include: thikse, drawing materials, process of drawing male and female buddhas, development of good drawing skills and drawing as meditation.

PREREQUISITE: None

REQUIRED TEXTS: None

SCA 550 Studio 2

Students focus on one particular Buddhist figure in an actual thangka composition, starting with the thikse, moving on to the drawing and then the painting. It includes shading and coloring. Materials are provided in class. Students are also welcome to bring their own materials. A materials list is provided to registrants.

PREREQUISITE: SCA 540 Beginning Drawing or the equivalent in experience

REQUIRED TEXTS: None