Chinese Buddhist Temples

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Chinese Buddhist Temples (25:00)
Item# 35320

Although they may not look exactly like their counterparts in China, North America’s Chinese Buddhist temples are closely linked to them through symbolism and traditions that go back more than 1,500 years. This video looks at structural symmetry, north/south building orientation, and interior layout; architectural elements like pagodas, columns, and courtyards; the lotus flower as a design element; and the statues of Buddha and the temple guardians. Buddhism’s origin in India, the Siddhartha/Buddha story, and aspects of Buddhist worship are introduced as well. (25 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (6)

1. Features of Chinese Buddhist Temples (04:31)
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Most Chinese Buddhist temples are easily recognizable by features such as rolling waves of glazed tiles, architectural symmetry, lots of red paint, lotus flower motif, incense burners, and a centrally located main door.

2. Interior of Chinese Buddhist Temple (02:57)

The main space is one big room featuring the Buddha statue seated on a lotus flower throne, similar to an imperial throne room. Around the Buddha shrine are common temple items: candles, incense, flowers and fruit for offerings, and ceremonial drums.

3. Exterior of Chinese Buddhist Temple (02:31)

Most Chinese temples have a monk or nun who runs the temple and may live in a small attached apartment. Whether in China or North America, most Buddhist temples display a reverence for nature in courtyards, gardens and statuary.

4. Buddhism: From India to China (01:51)

The Buddha is one of the most easily recognizable religious figures in the world, yet its origins are from India and not China. Following the Gautama Buddha's death, his teachings spread out from India along the Silk Road to China.

5. Structural Symmetry and Building Orientation (04:55)

By 600 A.D., Buddhist temples were built like Chinese palaces according to a formula. Features include a wooden, symmetrical building on a raised platform. These "boxes" are then arranged along a north/south axis.

6. Modern Buddhist Temples (05:53)

Most modern Chinese Buddhist temples consist of only one building, but other traditional features remain, such as Buddha shrines, bodhisattvas, temple guards, and walls of 10,000 Buddhas. All temples become places of faith, tradition, and the timeless human quest to understand.

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