ABSTRACT

This chapter explores a variety of the Indo-Tibetan architectural stūpa, a special form known as the ‘entrance stūpa’ which was especially favoured among Buddhists of the western Himalaya. Unlike conventional stūpas which are solid, with invisible and inaccessible interiors, the entrance stūpa’s interior is opened up, and the walls of that inner space are commonly decorated with painted murals. The entrance stūpa is therefore a topic which requires the interpretation of both structure and image. Yet with few exceptions, this variant structure has been noticed and described, if at all, either in works which play down the imagery and emphasize the structure, or in those which focus on the imagery as if it were detached from its setting. 1