There are different types of icons signifying different things and ideas associated with Buddhism. However, the following are the commonest and most popular ones that define Buddhism.
The Right-coiled White Conch that coils on its right side is a symbol of the far-reaching, intensive and sweet sound associated with the teachings of Dharma. It is appropriate for a wide range of aspirations, natures and characters of disciples and compels them to come out of the deep sleep of ignorance. It encourages them to focus on accomplishing their welfare and that of others.
The precious umbrella is a symbol of the entire work of shielding human beings from harmful forces and sicknesses in life. Generally, human beings should be preserved from all forms of suffering in the realms of gods and men. The victory banner is a Buddhist icon that represents one’s victory in different activities in the face of difficult situations. It also symbolizes that the Buddhist doctrine is victorious over every harmful and ill-intentioned force.
The golden fish in Buddhist iconography symbolizes the perceived success of human beings since they are characterized by fearlessness and never think of perishing in the ocean of sufferings. They move from one place to another with ease just like the fish do in the waters. The Auspicious drawing represents the dependence that exists between secular affairs and religious doctrines. In addition, it symbolizes the unity that exists between method and wisdom and how wisdom will unite with great compassion when enlightenment comes.
The whole purification of the body, mind and speech that has been defiled is symbolized by a lotus flower in Buddhist iconography. This flower symbolizes how wholesome deeds will eventually blossom after a happy liberation. The vase of treasure in Buddhist iconography represents a continuous rain of happy life, posterity, riches and all the good things of the world and freedom.
The history of early Chinese paintings dates back to 6000 years ago. Early Chinese civilizations initially used pulverized or crushed minerals in painting ordinary designs, figures on pottery and shapes. The ordinary patterns were comprised of dots, animals, zigzags and spirals. Those who made the pottery pieces included Longshan, Xia Dynasty, Majiavao, Yangshao, Shang and Han Dynasties among other civilizations.
Painted pottery is believed to have been used for the first time in ceremonies such as burials of prominent people. The pottery of Chinese people continued evolving and included human beings and animals in addition to the pots and vessels. Chinese painting was not left behind and during the reign of the Han Dynasty, paintings of beautiful figurines were produced.
Available evidence indicates that early Chinese paintings were done on vessels made out of Bronze as the Bronze Age flourished, although this did not continue for long. Chinese painting started to evolve remarkably when the Xuanzhi or Shuen paper was invented. Traditionally, the paper was created from rice or Elm and the Tang Dynasty is credited for its invention.
As the evolution of Chinese painting continued, artists adopted various subjects in their painting. Human figure within flowers, birds, nature and paintings of calligraphy became more common. Chinese calligraphy is to date regarded as one of the most remarkable Chinese art. Research in the modern era has revealed a lot about the origin and nature of early Chinese paintings. Because of the rich history of the country, research and in depth studies on early Chinese paintings remain issues of focus in the future.
The Heian Period is often known as the golden age in Japan’s history. It was in existence from the 9th until the 12th century and came before the medieval age of samurai and shoguns. The period was marked by stability, relative peace and the presence of central government at Heian-kyo.
There was also the court aristocracy and an emperor. It forms the history of The Hollow Reed novel of the 12th century and Akitada mystery series of 11th century. Heian Japan was comprised of provinces administered by governors who were appointed by the Heian-kyo based imperial government.
During the time of Akitada, Heian Japan was comprised of two classes, the commoners and nobles but an under class of outcastes and slaves also existed. Those above Akitada were powerful nobles while those below him were soldiers, artisans, merchants and peasants. Artisans and merchants spend their time in the cities and at times they prospered when they engaged in valued skills.
The slaves and outcastes included the entertainers, workers in noble trades and laborers. Apart from the lay population, there was the clergy which had its ranks but was not defined according to classes.
The Buddhist clergy which was derived from all classes was expected to remain celibate. The Buddhist clergy that was given the highest ranks came from the ruling class. As the Heian age approached its end, huge monasteries increasingly embraced war and conducted attacks against rival groups in addition to favoring particular groups involved in secular politics.
The culture of Japan is believed to have started developing 5000 BCE when the early settlers started establishing fishing villages. They were referred to as the Jomon culture and their distinguishing feature was their unique pottery. Jomon culture was overtaken by Yayoi culture at around 300 BCE after they introduced agriculture in the mainland of Japan.
The Yayoi were more advanced than the Jomon as they had good mastery of metalwork and cultivated rice paddies. They also had organized clans under the leadership of tiny groups of warriors. The warriors were responsible for taking care of the members of the clans.
The Yamato clan took over the leadership of most parts of Japan in the 6th century. A Yamato prince known as Shotoku took over power around 600 BCE and started working towards the creation of a strong centralized government similar to the one that existed in China. They adopted Buddhism and other ideas from Chinese government in order to learn from it. A remarkable change took place in 600 CE when the land was subdivided into provinces controlled by officials who were answerable to the emperor.
The idea of a central government had succeeded in China and was also successful in Medieval Japan. A new city known as Nara was set up in the eighth century and it functioned as a small capital city. The setting up of Heian as the new capital city in 794 CE gave nobles a lot of influence and power while that of the emperors started disappearing.
The nobles constituted small armies known as samurai in order to protect the land. By the 12th century, war broke out as wealthy families fought each other for power. The culture of the Japanese during the medieval age was marked by increased practice of Buddhism all over the country, development of art and architecture and growing drama and literature.