Both Hindu and Buddhist influences are evident throughout the entirety of society in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The modern countries in these regions still maintain some of these beliefs, yet in the ancient period the influence was massive. Looking at ancient art and architecture in this region, it is evident that these religions provided artistic models and inspiration. (History World 2013)

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Some of the most famous Hindu artwork depicts the Hindu gods. These deities are described in holy books (known as vedas), but many works of art take descriptions of the gods and their qualities and translate them into physical forms. Looking at many paintings and sculptures, deities are frequently depicted with multiple arms and/or heads in order to show their omnipresence and omnipotence as well as the multiple facets of their personalities. (Metropolitan Museum of Art 2013)

Similar to the depictions of Hindu gods, many Southeast Asian kings treasured and promulgated a design known as the mandala. This design is literally a series of concentric squares that was thought to help channel the energy of the universe in both a personal, professional and imperial way. This incorporation of Buddhist principles into an artistic form, physically represented the manifestation of Buddhist (as well as Hindu) ideals in ancient Southeast Asian kingdoms. (Brown, Daigoro & Rolf 1999)

Finally, the architecture of nearly every Buddhist or Hindu influenced building was designed in a symmetrical manner. This not only fell in line with the mandala plan mentioned above, but represented a practical use, as heavy rainfall in the region would be more easily diverted. (Brown, Daigoro & Rolf 1999)

In conclusion, Hinduism and Buddhism had a significant effect on the evolution of art and architecture on the Indian subcontinent and in the Southeast Asian region. Without these influences, the subject matter and intellectual inspiration for much of this art would be drastically different.

    References
  • “BUDDHIST AND HINDU ARCHITECTURE.” HistoryWorld – History and Timelines. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. .
  • Brown, Robert L., Daigoro Chihara, and Rolf W. Giebel. “Hindu-Buddhist Architecture In Southeast Asia.” The Journal of Asian Studies 58.1 (1999): 262. Print.
  • “Hinduism and Hindu Art | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. .