A stûpa (a word Sanskrit) is an architectural structure Bouddhiste and Jaïna which one finds in the Indian Sous-continent, in which it is originating, but also in the remainder of the Asia where it followed the expansion of Buddhism. It is at the same time a aniconic representation Bouddha and a monument commemorating its death or parinirvâna .
OriginThe stûpa finds its origin in the Tumulus and does not consist, at its beginnings, that in a stone stacking in the middle which a relic of the Buddha is locked up. Indeed, according to the tradition, after the cremation of the Buddha, its relics are divided in eight parts which are distributed to the eight kings come to pay homage to this occasion to him: Ajâtashatru, the king of the Magadha, with the Lichchavî of Vaishâlî, with the Shâkya of Kapilavastu, in Buli d' Allakappa, the Koliya of Ramagama, the Brahman of Vethadipa, the Malla of Pâpâ - Pâvâ in faded - and in Malla of Kusinâgar. These are the relics which will be enchased in the first stûpas.
However, all the stûpas do not contain a relic. One generally classifies the stûpas in four categories according to their nature:
- the dhâtu-chaitya which shelter relics,
- the paribhoga-chaitya which contain objects having belonged to the Buddha,
- the dharma-chaitya which expose the Buddhist doctrines,
- the uddeshika-chaitya which commemorate simply the parinirvâna , chaitya being a word Sanskrit meaning sanctuary.
In the same way, all the relics are not hidden in a stûpa. Against notable example is the famous tooth of Buddha, a molar presumedly remained intact in the Bûcher its cremation, which after being remained in Orissâ, to Dantapura , perhaps current the Purî, was sent to Ceylon by Ashoka, where it legitimated the capacity of the Singhalese kings. She knew then many adventures - transfer in Burma during the period of the Portuguese colonization of the island, two destruction by hammering and cremation, of which one with Goa of a counterpart by the enquiry - and is currently in the Dâlada Maligawa, the Temple of the Tooth with Kandy, which is not strictly speaking a stûpa.
Evolution and propagationThe principal structure, the anda , which represents the bowl with alms turned over, evolves/moves later in a half-sphere, sometimes with a cylindrical base as with Sârnâth, for example. The anda generally rests on a square pedestal, a group of three steps symbolizing the dress of monk folded up. The stûpa comprises sometimes one or more gates of access or Torana , a Vedikâ or encloses around the monument delimiting the pradakshinâpata , a way circumambulatoire around the anda which is traversed in the dextrogyre direction. At the top of the structure, one finds a Harmikâ , kind of platform surrounded by a balustrade, from where a mast emerges, the stambha which carries the chattrâ , a certain number of sunshades of decreasing sizes forming a cone. (One finds these various parts in the illustration opposite)
They often know rehandlings, in particular the installation of a acchadya - or cover - intended to increase their dimensions in order to make them more majestic.
The Ashoka emperor who reigned in the north of the India at third century BC, is regarded as the large propagator of this type of construction. The tradition credits it with: 84000 stûpas, but it is probably a number plus symbolic system that reality.
The form of the stûpa knows a strong variation during its dissemination in the continent of Asia, each area developing its own style. Thus, with the Tibet and in its old cultural satellites that are the Bhutan and the Sikkim, it becomes a Chorten, with its form characteristic of bulb, while conversely, with the Myanmar and in Southeast Asia, it adopts the typical shape of bell.
- the stûpa of the Temple of Borobudur, built at the 9th century in the center of the island of Java in Indonesia.
- the stûpa of Bodnath to Katmandou of the 14th century.
- the stûpa ( chedi ) Phra Pathom Chedi with Nakhon Pathom in Thailand, highest of the world, with its 127 meters.
- the stûpa of the Pagoda Shwedagon with Rangoon (Burma) with the gold and precious stones which recover it.
- the Pha That Luang, stûpa of Laotian style, national monument with Vientiane (Laos)
The stûpa is also transformed into Pagode, a genuine building in which one can penetrate, while Buddhism is spread in Asia.
The stûpas jaïna
Like the Buddhists, Jaïns also set up stûpas in the honor of their saints, with their accessories of fences, doors decorated with stone sunshades, finely scultés pillars and abundant statues. Old remainders of stûpas were discovered in the hillock of Kankâlî, close to Mathura, in the Uttar Pradesh. It is thought that they go back to Ier century before our era.
Propagation and evolution of the stûpa
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