Website Review

The Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art

The Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art offers a rich collection of images of Asian art and architecture. It is based upon the core collection created by John and Susan Huntington, professors of Asian Art History at The Ohio State University who engaged in over 35 years of field work in Asia. Nearly 300,000 images are held in the full collection, representing religious imagery and architecture (both on site and in museums) from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, and Japan. The historical range begins in 2500 B.C.E. and runs through the present day. Roughly 30,000 black and white images along with a limited number of color ones are accessible through an online "Digital Database Collection." Images are available in multiple sizes, with a zoom feature for more detailed views.

A variety of child-related features are presented at the Huntington site. A collection of links to "Online Exhibitions" currently offers valuable material from China, Japan, India, and Tibet. Exhibition themes include pictography and posters from China, modern art and devotional imagery from India, calligraphy and material arts from Japan, and the material icons and imagery of Tibet. While these collections do not address childhood directly, there are occasional iconographic images of children as well as domestic scenes of religious practice.

Other elements of the exhibit collections can be tied to a culture of childhood as well. For example, the exhibit "Literature in Line: Lianhuanhua Picture Stories from China" offers a collection of drawings from picture stories in popular print during the mid-20th century. One useful collection among these includes illustrations from Zhao Hongben and Qian Xiaodai's Monkey Beats the White-boned Demon (1962), based on the classic tale of Journey to the West. This story (available in an English-language translation by Arthur Waley) has been relished by both adults and children in China and continues to be presented globally as both theater and cinema.

The "Digital Database Collection" is another rich resource for the theme of Buddhism and Asian Art. It consists of nearly 30,000 images collected as documentation of Asian sites and architecture by John and Susan Huntington between the years of 1969-1984. Imagery related to the theme of childhood can be located through simple keyword searches. Images of children largely originate from India and include iconographic figures embracing a child as well as visual presentations of "Buddha life scenes." Such images could be usefully tied to textual sources, Buddhist themes, life-stages, allegory and iconography for research projects. Finally, the projects page at the site offers links and teaching resources related to art history, discussion outlines and presentations, as well as a "Visual Encyclopedia of Buddhist Iconography." Though not directly related to childhood as a major theme, these nevertheless offer valuable resources for those interested in exploring the broader context for the imagery of children and childhood.

How to Cite This Source

"The Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Related Art," in Children and Youth in History, Item #126, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/website-reviews/126 (accessed November 26, 2014).

Though not directly related to childhood as a major theme, these nevertheless offer valuable resources for those interested in exploring the broader context for the imagery of children and childhood.