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(Pronunciation: "ah-MEE-dah") The Buddha of Infinite Light. Creator of the Pure Land or Western Paradise, a place where beings can strive toward enlightenment free from the pain and suffering associated with life on earth. Chinese: A-mi-t'o-p'o ("ah-mee-TOH-poh"); Sanskrit: Amitabha ("ah-mee-TAH-bah").


(Pronunciation: "bye-SHAH-jah-goo-roo") The Buddha of Healing. Chinese: Yao-shih ("YOW-shur"); Japanese: Yakushi ("YAHK-shee").


(Pronunciation: "boh-dee-SAHT-vah") A being who has the wisdom and power sufficient to become a Buddha, but who refrains from doing so in order to help others find salvation.


(Pronunciation: "BOO-dah") A being who has attained complete enlightenment (nirvana), the highest level of perfection within the Buddhist spectrum of existence.


(Pronunciation: "BOO-dizm") A religion or philosophy founded by an Indian prince in the fifth century B.C. in which followers seek to attain enlightenment, a state of complete spiritual freedom known as nirvana. In so doing, they escape the endless cycle of birth and death as well as the pain and suffering associated with life.


(Pronunciation: "BYOH-boo") Literally "wind barrier," byobu are folding screens constructed of wood and paper. While they can be used to block the wind outdoors, they are commonly used to divide interior spaces and to provide privacy. The surfaces of byobu are often decorated with paintings.


(Pronunciation: "SELL-ah-dahn") Ceramic with an iron oxide glaze fired in a reduction atmosphere, producing range of colors from yellow to grey-green, olive, blue, or blue-green.


(Pronunciation: "JOON") A Song dynasty ware produced in Honan province, characterized by a thick, velvety glaze that appears in light blue, lavender blue, light green and blue with purple splashes. Their aesthetic appeal is rooted in their rich, deep, opalescent glazes.


(Pronunciation: "CHAH-noh-yoo") The Japanese tea ceremony—literally "hot water for tea."


(Pronunciation: "CHAH-sheet-soo") A Japanese teahouse or tea room.


(Pronunciation: "chee-GUY-dah-nah") In Japanese shoin architecture, a special shelving unit—literally "staggered shelves"—for the display of smaller art objects. This built-in shelving unit replaced the freestanding bookcases and cabinets that were popular in China.


(Pronunciation: "CHING-bye") A popular early porcelain covered with a thin, lustrous glaze that ranged in color between light blue and white.


(Pronunciation: "CHING-duh-ZHUHN") A city in southeastern China (Kiangsi province) which became the center of porcelain production for China and much of the world.


(Pronunciation: "CHEE-toh") "Earth Spirits," a common early form of Chinese burial sculpture.

Coffered Ceiling

A suspended ceiling made of a series of "coffers"—or open rectangular boxes—common to both Japanese and Western architecture.


(Pronunciation: "DAY-vahss") Literally "heavenly beings," devas comprise of a large group of deities from the pantheons of other religions—especially Hinduism—who have been adopted into the service of Buddhism.


Any type of ceramic that remains porous (not waterproof) when it has been fired (baked) in a kiln.


A clay with a high feldspar content.


(Pronunciation: "foo-SOO-mah") Sliding doors constructed of wood and paper. Fusuma slide along tracks set in the floor and transom, thus dividing the interior space into separate rooms. The surfaces of fusuma are often decorated with paintings.


A shiny glass-like layer baked onto the surface of an object made of clay, used to add color or make the object waterproof.


A ceramic that is fired (baked) at a very high temperature, generally producing a very durable material.


(Pronunciation: "HEE-nah-yah-nah") Literally "The Lesser Vehicle;" the form of Buddhism as evolved in Southeast Asia. Also called Theraveda.


(Pronunciation: "hee-NOH-kee") Japanese cypress, a wood preferred by Japanese artisans by virtue of being easy to carve and nearly sapless once cured.

Iron Oxide

One of several chemical compounds formed of iron and oxygen, often lending a reddish color to a substance.


The vertical posts that form the sides of a door, window frame, etc.


(Pronunciation: "jee-ZOH") A Bodhisattva who comes to the aid of people condemned to the torments of hell. Jizo is also worshiped independently as a protector of children and pregnant women. Chinese: Ti-tsang ("DEE-dzahng"); Sanskrit: Ksitigarbha ("ksih-tee-GAHR-bah")


(Pronunciation: "KAH-en-shih-kee") The "fire-flame" pattern sometimes found on early Japanese ceramics, which resembles rolling and leaping flames.


(Pronunciation: "kah-keh-MOH-noh") A Japanese hanging scroll. Consists of a painting or calligraphy backed by paper, framed by fabric, and attached to a wooden dowel. This flexible format allows kakemono to be rolled up for storage in special wooden boxes. Kakemono are usually displayed in the tokonoma.


(Pronunciation: "KAH-nohn") The Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. Chinese: Kuan-yin ("GWAHN-yeen"); Sanskrit: Avalokitesvara ("ah-vah-loh-kee-teh-SVAH-rah").


(Pronunciation: "COW-lin") A very pure white clay that is one of the main ingredients in porcelain.


(Pronunciation: "KAY-sah") A Japanese Buddhist monk's ceremonial robe.


(Pronunciation: "GWAHN") Ceramics produced by the Imperial kilns in present-day Kaifeng and Hangchou, made with a dark iron-rich clay covered with a thick translucent, pale blue-gray glaze. A distinguishing feature of this refined ware is the crackle pattern of its glaze, which was purposely induced during the cooling process.


(Pronunciation: "KOO-tsoo-gah-tah") A "shoe-shaped" teabowl—commonly associated with the Takatori kilns—in which the sides are purposefully pressed in.


Thin, flexible strips of wood or reeds used as a backing for plaster.


A horizontal structural member, such as a beam or stone, that spans the opening as between the uprights of a door, window, or similar architectural element.


A social class of Chinese men, trained in Confucian classics, who cultivated the arts—painting, calligraphy, poetry, and music. Some served the state as scholar officials—and all played the reclusive role of retired gentlemen.


(Pronunciation: "LESS") A yellowish brown, earthen material whose low clay content prevents distortion during drying and firing.


(Pronunciation: "LOH-kah-pah-lah") Guardians of the four directions, or "Four Heavenly Kings," commonly found in Buddhist temple architecture. Chinese: T'ien-Wang ("TYEN-wahng"); Japanese: Shi-Tenno ("SHEE-ten-noh").


Ceramic that is fired (baked) at a comparatively low temperature, generally producing a porous (non-waterproof) object unless glazed.


(Pronunciation: "LOONG-chwahn") The most refined greenware of Sung dynasty China, manufactured at several sites in southwestern Chekiang. It evolved as a beautiful blue-green tactile glaze on a fine, durable porcelain body.


(Pronunciation: "MAH-hah-stah-mah-PRAHP-tah") The Bodhisattva of Extreme Strength. Chinese: Shih-chih ("SHUHR-juhr"); Japanese: Seishi ("SAY-shee")


(Pronunciation: "MAH-hah-yah-nah") "The Greater Vehicle," a form of Buddhism that developed in India around the time of Christ and spread to China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan by the 7th century.


(Pronunciation: "mye-TRAY-ah") The Buddha of the Future.


(Pronunciation: "MAHN-dah-lah") A diagrammatic picture or sculptural arrangement used to represent aspects of the Buddhist cosmos.


(Pronunciation: "mahn-JOO-shree") The Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Chinese: Wen-shu ("WEN-shoo"); Japanese: Monju ("MOHN-joo").


(Pronunciation: "MING-chee") Chinese burial sculptures—"spirit articles"—that were placed in tombs to accompany and protect the dead in the afterlife.


(Pronunciation: "MEE-dzoo-yah") The "water room," or preparation area of a Japanese teahouse.


Consisting of, or decorated with, only one color—such as celadon or Ting ware.


(Pronunciation: "nee-OH") The "Two Kings"—devas who serve as guardians or attendants to Buddhas or bodhisattvas in Japanese Buddhist art.


(Pronunciation: "nee-JEE-ree-goo-chee") The low entrance to a Japanese teahouse—through which all guests, regardless of rank, would crawl upon entering as a gesture of humility and social equality.


(Pronunciation: "neer-VAH-nah") Enlightenment, the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice. Nirvana is the state in which all illusions and desires binding humankind to the cycle of birth and death are extinguished.


Color that is applied after an object has been fired once in the kiln.


A firing process in which extra oxygen is present in the kiln to change the chemical composition of the glazes on clay objects while they are being fired, producing a range of special effects.


(Pronunciation: "pah-ree-neer-VAH-nah") "Beyond nirvana," the state into which an enlightened being (or Buddha) passes upon physical death.


(Pronunciation: "buh-DOON-tsuh") Feldspar—a mineral containing silicon and oxygen—used as one of the main ingredients in porcelain.


A fine grained clay that is fired at high temperatures to create a white, non-porous, and extremely hard ceramic ware. First produced in China about 900 A.D. during the T'ang Dynasty.


(Pronunciation: "RYE-goh") The descent of Amida Buddha from the heavens to receive the soul of a dying worshiper.

Reduction Atmosphere

A process in which the kiln is sealed from the outside in order to deplete the oxygen during firing, used to control chemical reactions in the glaze to produce a range of special effects.


(Pronunciation: "ROH-jee") A Japanese a tea garden, literally "dewy path."


(Pronunciation: "sah-MAHN-tah-bah-drah") The Bodhisattva of Universal Goodness. Chinese: P'u-hsien ("POOH-shehn"); Japanese: Fugen ("foo-GEN").


(Pronunciation: "SAHN-tsye") The "three-color" ware that furnished the tombs of the aristocracy for more than a hundred-and-fifty years of the T'ang dynasty.


(Pronunciation: "skrah-FEE-toh") A method of decoration where designs are produced by scratching or cutting away parts of a top layer (such as a glaze or slip) to form a pattern by revealing a contrasting color or texture underneath.


(Pronunciation: "SHAHK-yah-moo-nee") The Historical Buddha, who lived in the 6th Century B.C.


(Pronunciation: "SHEEN-den") An early style of Japanese palace architecture, which lacked a system of dividing interior space—with the exception of portable curtains or folding screens.


(Pronunciation: "shee-TAH-jee-MAH-doh;") A type of window in which a portion of the underlying lath (woven wood or reed strips) is left unplastered, so that light filters through the reed lath into a Japanese tearoom. The shitaji-mado is typically placed near the tea master's area, providing a bit of light where it is most needed.


(Pronunciation: "SHOH-een") A style of Japanese architecture that developed during the Muromachi Period—roughly between the 14th and the 16th century—characterized by the use of tatami mats, square columns, sliding doors, coffered ceilings, and the integration of spaces in which to display art. Literally, quot;book room" or a "study."


(Pronunciation: "SHOH-jee") Sliding doors consisting of translucent paper pasted over a rigid wooden framework. Shoji are used extensively around the periphery of traditional Japanese buildings in order to allow light to enter the rooms.


(Pronunciation: "SHOO-fahng") The library—or study— of a traditional upper-class Chinese home.


(Pronunciation: "SOH-ahn") The rustic style of Japanese teahouse—literally, "grass hut"—perfected by teamaster Sen Rikyu in the 16th century.


(Pronunciation: "SOO-kee-yah") The architectural style of the Japanese teahouse, which typically combined a multitude of materials—some left in the rough—to recreate the refined elegance of a rustic, wabi setting.


(Pronunciation: "tah-kah-TOH-ree") Ceramic wares produced by several kilns in northern Kyushu, Japan, by émigré Korean potters beginning in the late 16th century.


(Pronunciation: "tah-TAH-mee") Thickly woven mats of rice straw and rushes used to cover the floor in traditional Japanese houses.


(Pronunciation: "TEY-rah-vey-dah") Literally "The Way of the Elders;" the form of Buddhism as evolved in Southeast Asia. Also called Hinayana.


(Pronunciation: "DING") The best known of the Sung dynasty "white wares," featuring mold-impressed and incised floral designs on high-fired, grey-bodied ware covered over with ivory-white slips and clear glazes.


(Pronunciation: "DING-dahng") The Main Hall of a traditional Chinese family home.


(Pronunciation: "toh-koh-NOH-mah") In Japanese architecture, an alcove for displaying art.


A horizontal crosspiece over a door or between a door and a window above it, or the horizontal dividing bars of the window itself.


(Pronunciation: "TSOO-koo-bye") A stone washbasin filled with fresh water outside a Japanese teahouse. Guests ladle water over their hands, and rinse their mouths to ritualistically cleanse themselves before entering.


(Pronunciation: "TSUH-joh") A wide range of northern Chinese stonewares, typified by a white slip applied over coarse clay. Tz'u-chou ceramics consisted primarily of inexpensive wares for everyday use.


(Pronunciation: "OOR-nah") A coil of hair on the forehead (often depicted as a jewel), one of the traditional identifying aspects of a Buddha.


(Pronunciation: "oos-NEESH-ah") A protuberance on the crown of the head indicative of great wistom, one of the traditional identifying aspects of a Buddha.


(Pronunciation: "vye-ROH-kah-nah") The Supreme or Cosmic Buddha, from which—in some Buddhist traditions—all other Buddhas emanate. Chinese: P'i-lu-che-na ("pea-LOO-juh-nah"); Japanese: Roshana ("ROH-shah-nah").


(Pronunciation: "VAHJ-rah") A stylized thunderbolt, which often symbolizes supreme wisdom or nirvana.


(Pronunciation: "VAHJ-rah-yah-nah") "The Diamond Vehicle," Tibetan Buddhism.


(Pronunciation: "veed-yah-RAH-jah") "Kings of Knowlege," fierce and protective deities who frighten away evil spirits and destroy harmful passions. Chinese: Ming-wang ("MING-wang"); Japanese: Myo-o ("MYOH-oh").


(Pronunciation: "WAH-bee") A Japanese term, adopted from poetry, that suggested poverty or wretchedness. For Japanese tea masters, the wabi aesthetic meant that even simple ceramics and other locally made tea utensils could have their own humble beauty.


(Pronunciation: "YAH-mahn-tah-kah") The Conqueror of Death—believed to be a manifestation of the ultimate wisdom which overcomes evil, suffering and death. In Vajrayana Buddhism, he is frequently depicted as a buffalo-headed demon, but in the Institute's sand mandala, he is symbolized by a blue vajra, or thunderbolt. Chinese: Ta-wei-te ("dah-WEH-duh"); Japanese: Daiitoku ("DIE-toh-koo").


(Pronunciation: "YOW-joh") An important kiln center in Northern China (Shansi province) during the Sung dynasty (960-1279). It produced thin-walled grey-bodied ware with mold-impressed or hand carved decoration under a translucent olive-green glaze.


(Pronunciation: "YOO-e") High-fired celadon wares produced in southern China dating from as early as the Warring States period (480 - 221 B.C.) to the early Sung dynasty (10th century).