Asian religious manuscripts have long been venerated as objects of worship and valued as teaching tools for the transmission of Buddhist teachings, philosophy and practice. Here, a Burmese Buddhist manuscript from the mid-nineteenth century is the catalyst for a study of the multifaceted Buddhist cosmos. The manuscript, which has several rare and remarkable features, not only lays out the complex array of realms in the Buddhist universe but also ventures into a number of esoteric and little-understood aspects of the Theravāda cosmological system and its inhabitants. By presenting translations and narration of much of the manuscript’s text and sharing his careful analysis of its vivid illustrations, the author uncovers fascinating details of the Theravāda Buddhist cosmos. Enlivening this investigation are detailed color and black-and-white illustrations, including a complete reduced-scale reproduction of the manuscript, newly conceived didactic diagrams, and examples from other sources that help clarify and explain the complex and segmented Buddhist cosmology.
JAMES EMANUEL BOGLE is a collector of Asian art and antiquities. In 2010 he donated fifty Southeast Asian paintings to the Walters Art Museum. He is the author of Thai and Other Southeast Asian Paintings: 18th through 20th Centuries (Schiffer, 2011).
“This beautifully illustrated book is an important contribution to the study of Buddhist cosmology. It will be very valuable to scholars and students of Buddhism alike.” —Dr. William Pruitt, Pali Text Society