These pages have been compiled based on the grapics and text of a small printed publication.
Transposing layout is always a problem and to reduce load times several pictures have
been omitted - hopefully not to the detriment of the remaining content.
Only a few of the original photos were in colour so I have
retained the overall B &W style of the book.

a major object of worship in Buddhism


While positioned at the end of the book I thought it might help if this summary was set here;
primarily with the thought of providing an introduction to the five items above.
Stupas became a cosmic symbol in response to a major human condition: death. With the enlightenment of the Buddha stupas became a particularly Buddhist symbol. They incorporate the ancient, pre-Buddhist burial mounds and elements of the Brahmanic religion – several of whose followers converted to Buddhism. The central axis comes conceptually from the ideal of the centre, the axis mundi, and physically from the sacrificial stake. The stupa shape can be found in many of natures forms. The Buddhist tree of enlightenment is called, in Latin, ficus religiosa, or sacred fig; It is generally called the Bodhi, or Bo tree. Bodhi is a Pali word for enlightenment.

Generally used as a repository for either a body or cremated remains. The use of non-corporeal relics is now also common. A specifically Buddhist monument used for contemplation and and as the focus of religious ritual. A symbol to inspire aspiration and efforts in the religious life – the pursuit of enlightenment.

Stupas are physically composed of the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. Symbolically of the Three Refuges and a three-fold summary of the Eight Fold Path all topped by direct experience of Nibanna.


Of the early stupas some were centred around sacrificial stakes but all evolved as burial mounds. As Buddhism spread there was an increase in both general support and the funds available. This, together with advances in construction techniques saw the stupa increase in size – both volumetrically and vertically. The evolving complexity and refinement of aesthetic detail is also apparent; as an extension of existing crafts. As Buddhism developed the stupa became more of a general religious symbol, an object of worship. Less emphasis was placed on the stupa as purely a site of interment.

A symmetrical expression of the microcosm and macrocosm. A centred construction designed to draw the viewer to their own still centre through silent contemplation. The basic form is a circle (heaven) inside a square (earth). The conceptual components of a stupa (cube, sphere, cone) interlock and the shared axis leads the viewer’s line of sight upwards to the apex – a symbol of the goal of Buddhism, nibbana. The pure mandala form of a stupa is best appreciated from above.