Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Shrine, Buddhist

Ritual Objects Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Physical Shrine Description (below)
- Shrine Objects: Buddha Image, Dharma Books, Stupa
- Shrine Table
- Shrine Offerings
- Offerings Table
- Shrine Decorations
- Furniture (General)
- Confusions: alter
- Others...

Video: Buddhist Shrines

Three Types of Physical Shrines:
- Shrine (Fixed, Physical Shrine)
- Portable Shrine (Travelling)
- Amulet Box (Personal)

Shrines in Depicted in Art (Paintings):
- Lhasa Jowo Shrine
- Teacher's Table like an Offerings Table: #76, 578, 50052, 74210, 81540
- Teachers Table: 65853, 100109
- Others...

Physical shrines are the centerpiece of a Buddhist temple. There are typically three shrine objects, a Buddha image, Dharma books, and a stupa. These objects along with others are placed on a shrine table or a stepped table with the shrine objects above and the offering objects below. Sometimes the offering objects tables are different and independent. Along with this are shrine decorations of various types.

The most famous shrine depiction in painting is the Lhasa Jowo. Other known and unknown depictions of historically famous shrines can be seen in many different pilgrimage paintings. Amulet boxes can also function as travelling shrines or personal shrines. There is even a particular amulet box design called shrine shape.

The term shrine is always preferable with reference to Buddhism rather than the word altar. An alter is often described as a sacred space where religious services are conducted or animals and humans are sacrificed. Some religious traditions use both the word altar and the word shrine but with two different meanings such as the Catholic church when referring to a church (altar) or referring to a pilgrimage site such as that of a saint (shrine).

Jeff Watt, 9-2021

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).