Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies: E-journal, Vol 1.2, Lee-Kalisch

Click here return to the Hualin main page.

Click here return to the Hualin E-Journal Vol 1.2 Table of Contents page.


Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 1.2 (2018): 111–130;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Arts)

Download full text PDF


The Transmission of Ornaments in Buddhist Art: On the Meander or Huiwen

Freie Universität Berlin

Keywords: meander ornament, transcultural, Buddhist art, comparative, architecture

Abstract: Beyond iconographic dimensions, the ornaments in Buddhist art become apparent through the depicted figures and their fashion, as well as other pictorial, architectural elements including patterns and motifs. Taking the meander ornament as an example, it is used as an icon in Buddhist art, however early Buddhist texts and local chronicles provide information on neither its origin nor its meaning; therefore we often have to deal with upper and lower very clichéd connotation. In this paper, the aesthetical and art historical value of the meander ornament, up until the twelfth century CE, based on the selected example, as a phenomenon of cultural transmission and intertwinement is to be discussed with regard to the cultural ‘originality’ and ‘diversity’ among the cultural traditions of the ‘West’ and ‘East’. It reveals the essential process of how ‘foreign’ images were transmitted and reproduced at the ‘local’ (Central and East Asia) religious space, at the same time, how implicated images had functioned as a medium of communication during the transmission.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.