Afghanistan (n)
landlocked country approximately the size of Texas in the center of south-central Asia. Its longest border of 1,125 miles is with Pakistan, to the east and south. It also borders Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. During the Gandhara empire (first through fifth centuries A.D.), artists in the region first portrayed the Buddha in human form, modeling his figure on the Greek god Apollo. The region that comprises current-day Afghanistan once had been controlled by the Greek conqueror Alexander the Great (fourth century B.C.). Even in the first century A.D., Kushan rulers of the Afghan-Pakistan border region maintained contacts with Rome.

androgynous (adj)
having both male and female characteristics

ascetic (n/adj)
one who rejects wordly attachment, going without basic needs and experiencing hardship, in the belief that this deprivation will lead to spiritual wisdom; adopting the ways of an ascetic

attribute (n)
object or characteristic closely associated with or belonging to a specific person or thing; in art, often used to identify representations of known individuals, such as gods or saints

avatar (n)
incarnation or appearance of a god, who may assume many forms

background (n)
in art, part of a painting or drawing representing the space behind the figures or objects in the foreground

biography/biographer (n)
account, usually written, of a person's life; one who creates such an account

bodhisattva (n)
compassionate being destined to become a buddha who refrains from entering nirvana to guide others on the path to Buddhahood

Brahma (n)
Hinduism's creator god; one of the three major Hindu gods, which include Shiva and Vishnu

brocade (n)
fabric woven with a raised, overall design

bronze (n/adj)
alloy (blend) of copper and tin and sometimes other elements; a metal object made from such an alloy; made of or characteristic of bronze

Buddha/Buddhist/Buddhism (n/n or adj/n)
historical figure, Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived in India in the sixth century B.C. During this lifetime, Shakyamuni discovered a means to escape the endless cycle of death and rebirth that, according to his teachings, is determined by an individual's karma. Through meditation Buddha attained a state of being known as nirvana, signifying the merging of the inner spirit with the void from which all reality is believed to emerge. Buddha's teachings developed into what is known today as Buddhism; literally "the enlightened one"; a follower of the Buddha's teachings; the religion born of Buddha's teachings.

Cambodia (n)
The Kingdom of Cambodia; a country in the southwestern Indochinese peninsula of Southeast Asia. It is bordered on the west and northwest by Thailand, on the northeast by Laos, on the east and southeast by Vietnam, and on the southwest by the Gulf of Thailand.

capital (n)
uppermost portion of an architectural column

cast (v/n)
to pour liquid metal, plaster, or other material into a mold and let it harden; an act or result of casting

caste (n)
division within a society, in this case Hindu socity, that is determined by birth and is based on an occupation that is handed down from parent to child. There are four main castes, which are ranked high to low; members of a caste usually do not marry outside of their caste.

central Asia (n)
area defined by the Caspian Sea in the west to the border of western China to the east and including the republics of Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan

chakra (n)
a powerful weapon that symbolizes dharma; its circular shape suggests that the circles of existence are assured by proper behavior

Chola dynasty (n)
south Indian dynasty that flourished from the end of the 9th century until the 13th century. The socially and economically prosperous Chola kingdom was marked by a flowering of Hindu culture. Chola rulers are reknowned for their construction of complex Hindu temples decorated with stone sculpture. Chola artists also excelled in bronze casting.

classical (adj)
of or having characteristics of antiquity or ancient Greek or Roman cultures

columnar (adj)
shaped like a column or other rigid, upright support

composition (n)
in art, the arrangement of formal elements, such as color, shape, and space

conch shell (n)
horn-shaped sea shell that produces a loud, resonant sound when blown

consort (n)
companion or spouse (husband or wife), usually of a god or royal person

cosmos/cosmic (n/adj)
universe; of or relating to the material universe of planets and galaxies outside the earth

Dashavatar dance (n)
dance of the 10 (das) incarnations (avatars) of the Hindu god Vishnu performed to classical Indian music; See the Dashavatara dance depicting Vishnu's avatars.

deity (n)
supreme being, such as a god or goddess

devotee (n)
ardent follower, usually of a particular deity or religion

dharma (n)
rules of religious and social conduct that are one's duty to follow. Dharma is determined by religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, or Jainism) and birth (see caste); often capitalized

dhoti (n)
skirt of unstitched cloth wrapped around the waist, worn by men in India and other countries of Asia

enlightenment (n)
attainment of perfect knowledge and integration with the universe, as believed in Buddhism; the spiritual goal of Buddhism (see nirvana); literally "to become extinguished"

foreground (n)
objects or figures situated in the front of a composition of a painting or drawing

gana (n)
mischievous dwarf, usually portrayed as obese; an attendant of the Hindu god Shiva. Ganesha is chief among them

Gandhara/Gandharan (n/adj)
region that is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan; style of Buddhist visual art developed between the first century B.C. and the seventh century A.D. The style had its origins in Greco-Roman culture.

Ganesha (n)
elephant-headed son of the Hindu god Shiva; remover of obstacles and Lord of Beginnings

Ganges River (n)
India's most sacred river, it is 1,560 miles long and flows southeast from the Himalayas in north India into the Bay of Bengal. Hindus believe that the river has flowed eternally from a sacred mountain in the center of the universe and that its waters will wash away their sins. Many bathe in the Ganges before dying to be cleansed of bad karma, which determines an individual's next life.

gender (n)
male or female sexual classification

generative (adj)
relating to the production of offspring or creation of life

gilded (adj)
covered or highlighted with gold or something of a golden color

Greco-Roman (adj)
having both Greek and Roman (Classical) characteristics; inspired by the architecture or art of ancient Greece and Rome

Himalayas (n)
mountain range 1,500 miles wide that includes Nepal, Tibet, and hill states of northern India. The highest Himalayan peak is Mount Everest (29,028 feet), which is the highest mountain in the world.

Hinduism/Hindu (n/n or adj)
range of related religious practices and beliefs that have their origins in India and exist today in many areas of south Asia. Hinduism's three major deities are Brahma, the creator; Shiva, the destroyer; and Vishnu, the preserver of universal order. The supreme goddess is Devi or Parvati (consort of Shiva); a follower of Hinduism; of or characteristic of Hinduism

horizon line (n)
in art, the horizontal line that forms the apparent boundary between earth and sky

icon (n)
object of worship in the form of a picture, image, or other representation, often of a sacred being

incarnate/incarnation (adj/n)
possessing a body, especially human; embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form

India/Indian (n/adj)
country occupying the central part of south Asia; with nearby Bangladesh and Pakistan, it forms a triangle-shaped subcontinent that juts into the Indian Ocean to the south and is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas in the north; of or characteristic of India

Indo-Corinthian (adj)
Indian design influenced by Corinthian (of ancient Greece) characteristics; the Corinthian column, for instance, is characterized by a deeply carved capital decorated with acanthus leaves; more ornate than other Greek styles

Indonesia/Indonesian (n/adj)
country in Southeast Asia that is an archipelago of more than 13,500 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, parts of Borneo, New Guinea, and Timor; Indonesia extends 3,000 miles, forming a natural barrier between the Indian and Pacific oceans; of or characteristic of Indonesia

Indra (n)
king of the ancient Vedic gods of India; god of rain and thunder

Indus Valley civilization (n)
ancient civilization that flourished in Pakistan and northwest India from around 2500 to 1750 B.C.

inscription (n)
text that is carved (engraved) into or written onto the surface of an object such as a coin, the base of a sculpture, a painting, or a manuscript

Islam/Islamic (n/adj)
religious faith of Muslims, as set forth in the Koran, the text that teaches that Allah is the only god and that Muhummad is his prophet; of or characteristic of Islam

jade (n)
either of two minerals, jadeite or nephrite; sometimes green; a highly valued, ornamental stone for carvings and jewelry

Jainism/Jain (n)
faith founded in India in the sixth century B.C. by Mahavira, a reformer, as a reaction against the caste system and the elaborate spiritual beliefs of Hinduism. Jainism emphasizes the renunciation of the material world and advocates nonviolent, humanitarian behavior; follower of Jainism

karma (n)
effect of past actions; influence of past deeds in determining one's status in this life and the next

Kushan empire (n)
people who ruled over most of northern India, Afghanistan, and parts of central Asia during the first three centuries A.D. The Kushans became affluent through trade, particularly with Rome. They were instrumental in spreading Buddhism in central Asia and China. The Kushans also developed schools of art in the regions of Gandhara and Mathura (Kushan's Indian capital) that produced some of the earliest known Buddhist sculpture.

linga (n)
phallic form of the Hindu god Shiva, symbolizing his cosmic energy and power as regenerator

lotus (n)
graceful flowering water plant, which in India and other eastern civilizations has been a symbol of purity, perfection, and enlightenment since ancient times. The enlightened state is symbolized by its blossom, which grows on top of the water, compared to its roots in the mud below, symbolizing earthly existence.

Mahishasura (n)
powerful demon who took the form of a buffalo and terrorized the earth and heaven, causing the Hindu gods to combine all their might to create a single deity named the goddess Durga. After a ferocious battle, Mahishasura was decapitated by Durga.

mandala (n)
sacred maze-like diagram of circles and squares representing the cosmos in miniature and serving as both a guide to and an object of meditation. A sacred symbol or deity is usually shown in the center.

manuscript illustration (n)
image made for a book, document, or letter that is drawn or painted by hand

middle ground (n)
in art, the portion of picture space that is behind the foreground but in front of the background

monastic (adj)
characteristic of monks, men who have withdrawn from the world for religious reasons and live (often in secluded quarters) according to particular rules of obedience

mudra (n)
one of numerous symbolic hand gestures of Hinduism and Buddhism that indicate concepts, such as reassurance or meditation

Mughal (adj)
of the dynasty of Islamic emperors who reigned in India from A.D. 1526 to 1858

Muslim (n/adj)
a follower of Islam; of, relating to, or characteristic of Islam

Nepal (n)
the Kingdom of Nepal; an independent nation in central Asia laying along the southern slopes of the Himalayas. It is a landlocked country between India to the east, south, and west and Tibet, an autonomous region of China, to the north. Both Buddhism and Hinduism are practiced in Nepal.

niche (n)
in architecture, an ornamental recess, usually set in a wall, for a statue or other decorative object

nirvana (n)
Buddhist concept referring to release from the endless cycle of rebirth caused by one's accumulated karma; the end of suffering; salvation

Pakistan (n)
country in south Asia bordered to the west by Iran, to the north by Afghanistan, to the northeast by China, to the east and southeast by India, and to the south by the Arabian Sea; contains ancient Gandhara, the region in which some of the earliest representations of the Buddha in human form were produced

Parvati (n)
form of the great goddess Devi, whose name means "daughter of the mountain;" consort of Shiva

patina (n)
crust or film that appears gradually (as a result of chemical reactions) on the surface of a metal object, often green in color when found on bronze. A patina is sometimes applied deliberately but most often develops on objects placed out of doors or underground.

patron deity (n)
god or goddess associated with a particular location

Persian (adj)
of the geographic area now known as Iran, its people, or their language

personify (v)
to represent a thing as having human qualities

pillar (n)
in architecture, an upright shaft or structure; supporting column

polychrome (n)
to paint with various colors

portrait (n)
representation (such as a painting or sculpture) of a particular person, usually showing the face

regenerator (n)
one who re-creates or makes anew

relief (n)
in art, a type of sculpture in which forms and figures project from a flat surface, often as an element of architecture

ritual (n)
ceremony related to religious practice or social customs

samsara (n)
concept understood by Hindus and Buddhists to mean the endless cycle of death and rebirth (repeated reincarnation). Release from samsara into nirvana (see enlightenment)

Sanskrit (n)
ancient Indo-Aryan language; the classical religious and literary language of India and Hinduism

sarong (n)
loose-fitting, skirtlike garment formed by wrapping a width of cloth around the body below the shoulders or at the waist; commonly worn by women in India, other Asian nations, and the islands of the South Pacific

shakti (n)
active and creative energy that enlivens a male god. Shakti is often personified as a female consort.

Shakyamuni (n)
"the Shakya Sage;" Buddha after his enlightenment

Shiva (n)
Hindu god of cosmic destruction and subsequent regeneration; one of the three major Hindu gods, who include Brahma and Vishnu

Southeast Asia (n)
region of Asia east of the Indian subcontinent and south of China, which includes Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines

stele (n)
upright slab or pillar, usually inscribed or sculpted and used for commemorative purposes

stupa (n)
dome-shaped structure that was originally said to contain the relics of Buddha; used for Buddhist worship

Tibet/Tibetan (n/adj)
region of southwest China that occupies plateaus and mountains of Central Asia, including Mount Everest. Tibet is bordered on the south by Myanmar, India, Bhutan, and Nepal and on the west by India. China annexed Tibet in 1951. In 1965 it was declared the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China; of or characteristic of Tibet

titan (n)
giant demon

toga (n)
loose outer garment worn by citizens of ancient Rome when appearing in public

tolerance (n)
sympathy or respect for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own

trident (n)
three-pronged weapon; an emblem of Shiva's threefold nature—male, female, and androgynous

Uma (n)
another name for Parvati, consort of the Hindu god Shiva

urna (n)
tuft of hair on the forehead of the Buddha, represented as a dot or jewel and which signifies his wisdom

ushnisha (n)
prominent bump on the top of Buddha's head, which refers to his wisdom and openness as an enlightened being

vahana (n)
animal or composite creature that serves as the transport or mount of a god, providing cosmic transportation

Varaha (n)
avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu who takes the form of a giant boar that saved the earth from a great flood

Vietnam/Vietnamese (n/adj)
Southeast Asian country in the eastern part of the Indochinese peninsula, directly south of the southeastern Chinese border; of, relating to, or characteristic of Vietnam

Vishnu (n)
"the preserver;" supreme Hindu god; one of the three major Hindu gods, who include Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu has 10 avatars, or incarnations, savior gods who come to earth to save humanity from evil at different intervals during the cycles of existence.

workshop (n)
place where individuals of various skills create art or other objects, such as furniture

yakshi (n)
ancient Indian female fertility deity

yoni (n)
abstract or triangular pedestal associated with the shape of the female generative organ; often a base for a linga