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  • Thumbnail for Ryoanji, rock garden, detail, east end of garden, December
    Ryoanji, rock garden, detail, east end of garden, December

    East end of the rock garden at Ryoanji, photographed from the veranda of the hojo, looking to the south. Early December morning, frost on the roof of the wall surrounding the garden. The frost will disappear quickly as the sun rises in the sky.

  • Thumbnail for Hiroshima, Atom Bomb Dome
    Hiroshima, Atom Bomb Dome

    The former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Halll, as it has stood since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In front is one of the three rivers that runs through Hiroshima. This site is just down the river from the bridge that was the intended target for the atomic bomb.

  • Thumbnail for Autumn colors in the quiet contermporary Japanese countryside . . .
    Autumn colors in the quiet contermporary Japanese countryside . . .

    Driving back to Morioka City (Iwate Prefecture) from an onsen (hot spring) weekend in the Aomori Prefecture.

  • Thumbnail for Pruning a persimmon tree
    Pruning a persimmon tree

    The yearly family tradition of pruning the persimmon tree in the garden. Pictured are Ruri, the daughter in the family, sitting on the fence, and Kunio, her father in the green jacket.

  • Thumbnail for Shisendo, upper garden
    Shisendo, upper garden

    Southern portion of the inner (â€upperâ€) garden as seen from the Shisendo. Built by samurai Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672) beginning in 1636. He bacame a scholar and based Shisendo on retreats of mid-T’ang dynasty Chinese poets and scholars.

  • Thumbnail for Samboin, pond garden
    Samboin, pond garden

    View along the east-west axis of the pond garden, from the west end of the pond. On the left in the image is the kare sansui garden that runs along the edge of the pond, between the veranda of the Omote shinden and the pond. The rocks in the left foreground are said to represent different characteristics of the flow of the Kamo River.

  • Thumbnail for Joeiji, main garden
  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad, Aurangzeb Mosque, Mehrab
    Khuldabad, Aurangzeb Mosque, Mehrab

    The niche in the wall, the mehrab, is placed in the direction of Mecca so that all facing the mehrab for prayer will also be facing Mecca. On the wall are the names Allah and Muhammad representing the creedal statement, the Shahada: There exists only one God and Muhammad is his messenger. Also, on the wall is the clock, a reminder of the 5 daily prayer times.

  • Thumbnail for Bodhisattva
    Bodhisattva

    The museum labels states, "This handsome, well-modeled figure depicts a bodhisattva, an enlightened being who selflessly remains in the cycle of death and rebirth in order to help others attain enlightenment. His relaxed posture is typical of a teacher while discoursing, but it is unusual for a bodhisattva. It is a form of paryankasana,in which one foot rests on the opposite thigh (paryanka)." -- Nepal, Kathmandu Valley -- Coll. Art Institute of Chicago (James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, 134.1996)

  • Thumbnail for Auspicious figures on cave doorway, woman in Tribunga pose under tree
    Auspicious figures on cave doorway, woman in Tribunga pose under tree

    This female yakshi represents the auspicious fertility of the earth as she stands under the canopy of a fruit-laden tree, possibly mango. Auspicious symbols surround the entranceways to the caves, making these caves also auspcious places to dwell.

  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque, ritual ablutions before prayer
    Aurangzeb Mosque, ritual ablutions before prayer

    Before praying, all Muslim worshippers must purify themselves by performing ritual ablutions. Mosques provide fountains or individual water spigots so that each person can carry out this ritual cleansing.

  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque perfume kiosk
    Aurangzeb Mosque perfume kiosk

    Outside many mosques in India, small shops sell perfumes and small ornaments. Before prayer, all must perform ritual ablutions to purify oneself. From an early period, perfumes have been associated with the idea of purification.

  • Thumbnail for Ajanta Caves, pilgrims
    Ajanta Caves, pilgrims

    In this photo, several Tibetan women are seen walking behind an Indian woman visiting the Ajanta Caves. Pilgrims and tourists travel to this historic site and walk the series of caves in all seasons. Pilgrims from many different Buddhist cultures often perform ritual prayers as they visit individual caves.

  • Thumbnail for Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26
    Parinirvana of the Buddha, cave 26

    This carving of the parinirvana of the Buddha Sakyamuni includes figures of monks receiving teaching from the Buddha, emphasizing the importance of the Buddha as a teacher even as he was dying. Cave 26.

  • Thumbnail for Ryoanji, rock garden, detail, west end of garden
    Ryoanji, rock garden, detail, west end of garden

    Detail, rock groups at the southwest corner of the garden at Ryoanji.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall, entranceway sculptures of amorous couples
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall, entranceway sculptures of amorous couples

    Across the top of the entrance to the Chaitya Hall is this series of small niches containing amorous couples in slightly different poses with their bodies bent as if in response to their partners. On either side of each couple is a small figure, perhaps a child. Repeating these figures across the length of the top of the entranceway offers images of fertility and good fortune to all who pass through.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall balcony entrance adornments
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall balcony entrance adornments

    Gandharvas (celestial male musicians) flanked by apsarases (celestial nymphs) float on either side of the opening over the balcony entrance to the Chaitya Hall. These auspicious heavenly creatures represent good fortune for all who enter this site.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, Shiva and Parvati on Mt. Kailash, close-up
    Ellora Hindu Caves, Shiva and Parvati on Mt. Kailash, close-up

    Alternately quarrelling and reconciling, the couple, Shiva and Parvati, sit close together here while the demon Ravana shakes their abode from below. Shiva has placed one hand on Parvati's breast while she is resting her hand on his leg.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, bangles as symbols of pilgrims' petitions
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, bangles as symbols of pilgrims' petitions

    At the Tomb Shrine of the mother of Zar Zari Zar Baksh, women tie glass bangles over the door lintel into the shrine room as symbols of their petitions.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah prayer clock
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah prayer clock

    A reminder of the Quranic injunction to pray five times a day. At 4:45 p.m., the next prayer time is posted for 19:00. This prayer, the Maghrib, is the fourth of the day to be performed just after sunset.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh, mother's tomb shrine
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh, mother's tomb shrine

    Within a few yards of the tomb shrine of Zar Zari Zar Baksh lies the tomb shrine of his mother, also understood to intercede with God on the behalf of pilgrims. Women pilgrims often pray to her to help them conceive a child.

  • Thumbnail for Bhajan singing 3
    Bhajan singing 3

    As noted in Bhajan singing 1 and 2, the warmly dressed singers from the Rama Temple are singing songs of praise to Vaishnava deities. Women and men sing together in these groups.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah Masjid plaque
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah Masjid plaque

    On the wall of the masjid, over the mehrab or niche designating the direction of prayer is this blue-green plaque with the shahada written in gold lettering: There is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree

    This oddly shaped but magnificent tree is said to have spontaneously begun growing when the saint threw a stick in the courtyard. Women tie colored fabric on its branches as a symbol of their petitions to the saint.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, ascetic figure on roof, close-up
    Ellora, Datta Temple, ascetic figure on roof, close-up

    An ascetic figure sits atop the roof of the temple, clothed in the saffron robes that indicate his commitment to live as a brahmacarin and carrying the walking stick necessary for his life as wanderer. The sunglasses indicate that this figure was probably meant to represent a contemporary guru respected by the lineage of ascetics associated with this temple.