Beginning with a few aniconic symbols, like foot prints, a throne, the Bo tree or stupas, in the prechristian Indian art, Buddhism came to evolve a variety of picturesque representations of a Self-Existent, Super immanent Principle: in myriad forms and emanations that range from the superbly magnificent to sheerly grotesque. Endowed with diverse iconographic attributes, Buddhist deities/saints/demons have grown, over the rolling centuries, into bewildering numbers, legions. Which all, leave alone the neophytes, not even the best of scholars can recognize! The names of the divinities and their cultural/regional perceptions - owing largely to the plurality of Buddhist pantheons, have only gone on to further complicate their identification.
Unveiled, for the first time, in the pages of this Encyclopedia, is a panorama of Buddhist deities, demigods, godlings, saints and demons, with spotlight on the concretized, recognizable forms and the subtle symbolism they involve. In its nearly 8000 alphabetically arranged articles of varying lengths, it mixes gods and demons, bhiksus and btsans, the aesthetic and the grotesque - in fact, nearly the whole range of good and evil forces which the inspired among the adherents of the Buddhist faith conceived so ingeniously!
Professor Bunce has painstakingly marshaled a wealth of data from authoritative language sources, notable, Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Newari/Nepalese, Chinese, Mongolian, Japanese, Siamese/Thai, Annamese/Viet Namese, Javanese, and Sinhalese, in his effort to capture almost the entire framework of Buddhist divinities: a multi-pantheonic and hierarchies, ranging from Adi-Buddha to Arhats and yet beyond. Himself a distinguished scholar of Oriental/Buddhist Art, Dr. Bunce incorporates, in scrupulous detail, the iconographic attributes of deities: like colours, heads/eyes, hands, objects held, body, feet, asanas, mudras, ornaments, vahanas,emanations, and whether calm or wrathful - which, with a generous supplement of illustrations: about 300 elegant line-drawings and several colour plates, highlight the distinctiveness of each individual figure. Also included in the Encyclopaedia are user's guide, glossaries (of asanas, mudras and attributes), identification charts, a hierarchic table, and bibliographic references.
From the Introduction
"Growing from years of Professor Bunce's persevered research and study, this compilation is certainly the first ever to draw together most of the Buddhist divinities/ mythological characters, in their distinctly recognizable forms. And is, therefore, indispensable to both the specialists and non-specialists trying to identify each from a whole host of these figural representations.The practices of Buddhism throughout the world, and particularly in the Orient may appear to some to exemplify a faith of paradoxical dimensions. Since its inception, Buddhism has provided the human race with a multitude of thought provoking questions and puzzles as well as elemental and brilliantly clear insights which lase to the very quick of human existence. It is inclusive rather than exclusive and in this lies both its simplicity and complexity.
As a cultural historian, my interest in Oriental Art and Buddhist Art in particular preceded by decades my first trip to Southeast and South Central Asia-Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and India. In 1986 I purchased my first three thangkas from the Tibetan artist Karma Thupten (aka Karma Lama): a large, spectacular Green Tara, an unusually powerful Vajrasattva Mandala, and a serene four-armed Avalokiteshvara. Upon my return I began to try to identify the secondary figures within these thangkas through the normal research channels/methods. What I found was not a morass, but a maelstrom of different and often seemingly conflicting information which inexorably drew me into its deep recesses. So, I began to logically research, amass and organize the information that I needed for my own use. Within a very short time I became aware of the scope, complexity and vastness of what I was attempting, but by, then I was 'caught.'
An Encyclopedia of Buddhist Deities, Demigods, Godlings, Saints & Demons: With Special Focus on Iconographic Attributes, Prof. Frederick. W. Bunce, D.K. Printworld, 2 volumes, 1151 pp; 286 line drawings, 24 color plates, $160.00/set
Fredrick W. Bunce, a Ph.D. (Comparative Arts), from the Ohio University, Athens, USA, is a cultural historian of international repute. Professor and former Chair person, Department of Art, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, since 1980, he has lectured at learned forums and published on a variety of art-related themes. And has held many a solo exhibition at different art galleries, art museums and universities; besides his participation in the artist's guild/faculty/other ventures of the kind.
A scholar with varied intellectual/research concerns-notwithstanding his specializations in Oriental and Buddhist Arts, Professor Bunce has been legitimately honoured with certain notable awards/commendations, and is listed in Who's Who is American Art and also theInternational Biographical Dictionary: 1980-present.
|List of Figures and Plates||xiii|
|List of Figures and Plates||vii|
|DEITY IDENTIFICATION TABLES|
| White, calm deities||645|
| White, wrathful deities||679|
| Red, clam deities||697|
| Red, wrathful deities||719|
| Blue, calm deities||750|
| Blue, wrathful deities||757|
| Green, calm deities||790|
| Green, wrathful deities||797|
| Yellow, calm deities||804|
| Yellow, wrathful deities||822|
| Black, wrathful deities||835|
| Dark, purple, brown, grey deities||856|
| Natural Skin-color deities||862|
| Calm deities: color not designated||873|
| Wrathful deities: color not designated||925|
| Mudra or Hasta||1019|
| Attributes/Iconography and Vahanas||1029|
| I. Classes, Groups and Hierarchies||1039|
| II. Vajrayana Orders/Schools||1063|
| III. Tibetan Alphabet||1067|