Classroom Activities & Projects
Buddhism and BuddhapadaLevel: High school-Grade 11 to 12
- Understand the role of sign and symbol in religion
- Identify ways in which religion is reflected in specific works of art
- Identify the origin and significance of various symbols
- Identify sacred beliefs from a variety of religions and explain any commonalities
- Effectively communicate the results of research, using a variety of methods and forms
For the first centuries after his death, Buddha was represented in art by attributes and symbols - his robe, throne, the bodhi tree under which he attained enlightenment, and his footprints. The adoration of his feet, or Buddhapada became a prominent feature of Buddhist practice.
With your students, examine the stone slab carved with Buddhapada in low relief at the end of the first section 'In the Footsteps of the Divine'. Several Buddhist religious symbols appear on the footprints. In the centre of each foot is the Wheel of the Law, or dharmachakra. The three-pronged triratna at the heel represents the three Jewels of the Buddha's teachings, and includes one of several lotus flowers on the slab. Several swastikas also appear.
Before the German Nazis appropriated the swastika as a symbol of their movement, it was a universal symbol with positive connotations. Research the swastika as a universal symbol. Find depictions in of swastikas in art from five different ancient cultures.