It Is What It Is (Or Is It?)

Further Reflections on the Buddhist Representation of Manuscripts


  • Jacob Kinnard Iliff School of Theology



Buddhist Images, visual representations


Books are a common motif in the art of medieval Indian Buddhism. The questions addressed in this article are: What are these Buddhist images of books? What are they images of? Or, more to the point, are they images of anything at all? This article suggests that such images are like sculptural snapshots. These are not images not to be worshipped—although the main goddesses or bodhisattvas presented in the images were certainly objects of veneration—but they are images of worship. As such, they may be evidence of this worship, but they may also be rhetorical or polemical statements about the importance of the book in the Buddhist communities that produced them.

Author Biography

Jacob Kinnard, Iliff School of Theology

Associate Professor of Comparative Religious Thought, Iliff School of Theology.


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How to Cite

Kinnard, J. (2012). It Is What It Is (Or Is It?): Further Reflections on the Buddhist Representation of Manuscripts. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 6(1-3), 101–116.