Skip to main content
Select Source:

Stūpa

Stūpa (Skt.; Pāli, thūpa). A reliquary (relics) monument ubiquitous throughout the Buddhist world and which, as an object of formal devotion and as a symbol of Buddhahood itself, has been compared in role to the cross in Christianity. The stūpa originated in India from the earlier caitya, a funeral mound commemorating regional kings. Instructions from the Buddha that he himself should be so commemorated—in order to remind people of the possibility of nirvāna—are contained in the Hīnayāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra.

The earliest form of the stūpa (e.g. from the 1st cent. CE, at Sañci, C. India) consisted of a simple base supporting an egg-shaped dome (aṇḍa) which contained the relics, and a spire with three rings—a combination in meaning of the ceremonial parasol and the Three Jewels. The whole was surrounded by railings which circumscribed the stūpa as a sanctified area. From this basic form eight theoretical types were developed of which only two were commonly built. These were the Enlightenment Stūpa, which follows the above description, and the Descending Divinity Stūpa, commemorating the descent of the Buddha to teach his mother (after a Jātaka tale), which has steps leading to a raised walkway around the dome. Mahāyāna variations of these types could have five or seven ‘umbrellas’ to represent stages on the path to Buddhahood, and a multiple base to represent the five elements, thus greatly aligning the stūpa with the maṇḍala as a cosmogrammatic representation. The stūpa continued to evolve outside India, producing the pagoda in E. Asia, and reaching the height of its symbolic richness in the Tibetan chorten.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Stūpa." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Stūpa." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa

"Stūpa." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa

stupa

stupa (stōō´pə) [Sanskrit,=mound], Buddhist monument in tumulus, or mound, form, often containing relics. The words tope and dagoba are synonymous, though the latter properly refers only to a Sinhalese Buddhist stupa. The stupa is probably derived from a pre-Buddhist burial mound. The oldest known prototypes (c.700 BC) are the enormous mounds of earth at Lauriya Nandangarh in NE India, which were the burial places of royalty. The wooden masts embedded in the center of these mounds probably carried the umbrellas that served as a symbol of royalty and authority; early Buddhists appropriated not only the royal symbol of the stupa but also used the umbrella as a symbol for the Buddha. The Emperor Asoka was the first to encourage the building of stupas. The earliest mound forms that can properly be termed stupas, those at Sanchi and Bharhut (see Indian art and architecture), are hemispherical masses of earth raised on a base and faced with brick or stone. The structure is surrounded by a processional path, the whole being enclosed by a stone railing and topped by a balcony. Though in its development the stupa often became elaborate and complex, in its purest form the plan consisted of a circle within a square. Many of the most significant monuments of the Buddhist world are stupas, and they can be found in every country in which Buddhism has been practiced. Some examples are the Thuparama dagoba (244 BC) in Sri Lanka, Borobudur in Java (8th or 9th cent. AD), and the Mingalazedi stupa in Myanmar (AD 1274). In East Asian Buddhist architecture, the function of the stupa has been taken over by the pagoda.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stupa." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stupa." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stupa

"stupa." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stupa

stupa

stupa. Buddhist funerary mound in the form of a hemisphere of earth and rubble. The earliest (C3–C1 bc) are raised on low drums faced with brick or stone. Stupas are sometimes of bell-like form with a platform at the top (surrounded by stone railings) carrying a mast-like stone upright with one or more canopies resembling umbrellas (chattra). Stupa-like elements sometimes occur as ornaments in the Indian style.

Bibliography

Cruickshank (ed.) (1996);
Glauche (1995);
Snodgrass (1985);
Jane Turner (1996)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stupa." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stupa." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa

"stupa." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa

stupa

stu·pa / ˈstoōpə/ • n. a dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stupa." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stupa." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa-0

"stupa." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa-0

stupa

stupacoper, doper, eloper, Europa, groper, hoper, L-dopa, moper, no-hoper, opah, toper •interloper •blooper, cooper, Cowper, duper, grouper, Hooper, looper, pea-souper, pupa, scooper, snooper, stupa, stupor, super, trooper, trouper, whooper •pooper-scooper • party-pooper •paratrooper • mea culpa • chutzpah •crupper, cuppa, scupper, supper, upper •gulper, kalpa, pulper •bumper, dumper, gazumper, jumper, lumper, stumper, thumper •showjumper • diaper • galloper •developer •scalloper, walloper •chirper, sherpa, usurper

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"stupa." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"stupa." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa

"stupa." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/stupa