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"Buddhist painting" refers to any painting which has Buddhism as its subject matter. The main purpose of Buddhist paintings is to help people understand Buddhism and have deeper faith in Buddhism by visualizing a buddha engaged in Buddhist practice or Dharma talks. Some outstanding Buddhist paintings are: “Bonsaengdo” which depicts Jataka stories about the previous lives of the Buddha; “Palsangdo” which depicts the eight main events of the Buddha’s life; “Simudo” or Ten Ox-Herding pictures, which describe “searching for an ox” as a metaphor for “looking into one's true nature”; and “Sinjung Taenghwa” which depicts protective deities who protect the Buddha-Dharma. Buddhist painting can be broadly divided into three types. First, “taenghwa,” a Korean transliteration of “thanka,” is a scrolled painting hung on the wall. Second, a wall painting or mural is painted directly on the wall. Third, “gwaebul” is a large scroll painting, approximately 3-10 meters high, used for special outdoor ceremonies.
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Elementary 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism