Art from the Spiritual Age Vocabulary

Vocabulary slideshow of art from Buddhist, Hindu, and Byzantine art and culture.

1. Mandala

A geometric configuration of symbols used in the ritual practices of Buddhism and Hinduism. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention, as a spiritual guidance tool, or as an aid to meditation.

2. Mudra

A symbolic hand gesture used in Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies and statuary, and in Indian dance.

3. Stupa

A mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics, such as the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns, and used as a place of meditation.

4. Bodhisattva

In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is an enlightened being who has decided to delay becoming a fully enlightened Buddha and who lives in a spirit of compassion and service to others.

5. Murti

An image, statue or idol of a deity or person in Indian culture. In Hindu temples, it is a symbolic icon.

6. Yantra

A mystical diagram, mainly from the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions. They are used for the worship of deities in temples or at home; as an aid in meditation; for the benefits given by their supposed occult powers based on Hindu astrology and tantric texts.

7. Icon

In Byzantine art, an icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels.

8. Mosaic

A piece of art or image made from the assembling of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It is often used in decorative art or as interior decoration. Most mosaics are made of small, flat, roughly square, pieces of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae.

9. Pendentive

A constructive device permitting the placing of a circular dome over a square room or an elliptical dome over a rectangular room. The pendentives, which are triangular segments of a sphere, taper to points at the bottom and spread at the top to establish the continuous circular or elliptical base needed for the dome.

10. Iconostasis

In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church.

11. Lotus Position

A cross-legged sitting asana originating in meditative practices of ancient India, in which the feet are placed on the opposing thighs. It is an established part of Hindu Yoga, and is commonly used for meditation in Hindu Yoga and Buddhism.

12. Tantra

A genre of ancient Indian texts that discuss various theories, systems, and methods of spiritual knowledge concerning the nature of existence, the universe, and the self. In the context of art, it often refers to certain symbolic diagrams used in the performance of sacred rites.

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