The Great Stupa of Sanchi Analytical Essay

An analysis of the Great Stupa at Sanchi, with a focus on how the elements of art depicted relate to the Buddhist religion as well as how cultural interactions and historical events shaped its conception.
# 150759 | 1,687 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2010 | TR

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One of the oldest standing stone structures in India, the Great Stupa of Sanchi is a significant religious site that attracts many Buddhists for pilgrimage today. This paper undertakes a detailed analysis of the Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi and its outlying ruins. Authoritative sources consisting mainly of academic journals and university publications are used to determine the Great Stupa's importance in the history of Buddhist art. Specifically the towers surrounding the Stupa and the hand-carved imagery depicted on the structures are examined. The way in which the metaphorical imagery relates to concepts of the Buddhist religion as well as historical events are explored. The paper also serves to underscore the ruins' enduring scholastic importance, which is not because of relics or riches of the site but due to the depth and meaning of the art in question.

From the Paper:

"It is possible to say that the artistic features of the Sanchi Stupa were affected by social circumstances that motivated the creators of the site of worship to concentrate further on creative visual displays rather than intellectual teachings and philosophic reasoning. Under close observation, it is possible to see that the carvings and statues depict legends and folk stories. In a condition not unlike that of Christian teachings, Buddhist sermons were mostly directed towards the illiterate masses. Therefore, the depiction of visual art symbolizing Sakyamuni's moral and spiritual enlightenment, albeit in an abstract way, is an effective way to teach to followers moral principles. However, it is interesting to note that Buddha is not directly depicted in the mentioned stories. Instead, his spiritual being is often depicted by symbols such as the elephant (or lotus), the tree and the wheel of chakra. Therefore, it can be said that sculptures and carvings depicting Buddha are aniconic works of art. Scholars explain that the most probable reason for this is the belief that Buddha had transcended his earthly existance as well as human understanding, and hence did not need to be depicted in human form. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • - Dehejia, Vidya. "On Modes of Narration in Early Buddhist Art."College Art Association 72.3 (1990): 374-392. JSTOR. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <>
  • - Huntington, Susan L. "Early Buddhist Art and the Theory of Aniconism." College Art Association 49.4 (1990): 401-408. JSTOR. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <>.
  • - "The Great Stupa at Sanchi."Cambridge University Press(Jan. 1902): 29-45. JSTOR. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. < 25208371> .
  • - "Sanchi Stupa."Encyclopedia of India. N.p., 2006. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. < Encyclopedia%20of%20India,%202006,%204v/vol.4_-_S-Z.pdf>.
  • - Lochtefeld, James G. "Sanchi Stupa - A World Heritage Site."University of Carthage. N.p., 27 Dec. 2005. Web. 18 Nov. 2010. <>

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

The Great Stupa of Sanchi (2012, April 08) Retrieved November 22, 2019, from

MLA Format

"The Great Stupa of Sanchi" 08 April 2012. Web. 22 November. 2019. <>