The Golden Lands, by Vikram Lall – JF Publishing in partnership with Abbeville Press, September 2014 – international/publisher-direct ISBN 9789670138039
Here are some answers to frequent questions about The Golden Lands book – and please feel free to add comments on this post or contact us with further questions.
What is the book about?
This is a study of the architectural history of Buddhist stupas, temples, monasteries, and temple complexes, through the eyes of a professional architect, covering many famous historical (and living Buddhist) monuments in Southeast Asia, as well as documenting a series of lesser-known sites.
The book is in “coffee table” size and is extensively illustrated with beautiful colour photographs, as well as diagrams and maps.
Eventually the whole (planned six book) Architecture of the Buddhist World series will extend this survey to cover all regions of the world up to and including modern Buddhist architecture.
What’s significant about the book?
Firstly, there are very few books exclusively focusing on the architecture of Buddhist sites, as mostly studies focus on art, sculpture, history, or religious use. These aspects are not ignored in our book, but the author, Vikram Lall, being a professional architect as well as academic lecturer means that we have focused on the history and interpretation of the architecture as the main theme.
Secondly, significant fresh research is presented in the book through over 100 3D architectural diagrams, for which the editorial team undertook extensive travel and surveying work at many different sites. These diagrams offer new insights to the layout, symbolism, and structural design of the buildings and complexes.
What type of reader is the book aimed at?
Thanks to the beautiful presentation and lucid text, the book is suitable for an educated lay audience, as well as being authoritative and rigorous for academic consumption.
Knowledgeable architects and historians will enjoy the fresh look at the wide range of different sites, and newcomers to the subject will surely be inspired to plan their first (or more cultural) travels to these countries.
What’s included in the book?
The book starts with a general historical and architectural introduction, and then has 6 sections, one for each country in the following generally historical order: Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. In each country section there is a general survey and then several specific sites are analyzed. A full contents listing can be found here.
What was the inspiration for this book?
JF Publishing is an independent publisher and we have always been focused on books that bring amazing cultural and spiritual discoveries to our readers, with titles ranging from a best-selling guide to Qigong for busy executives, to a lavishly illustrated introduction to the world’s most beautiful gardens.
With this latest series, we wish to contribute a lasting reference for Buddhists to some of their wonders of the world, in particular from a rigorous historical and architectural point of view, which is so important when it comes to modern-day conservation and informing future generations of caretakers of these sacred places.
Meanwhile we aim to make these beautiful and inspiring places better known to non-Buddhists across the world, firstly to architects who may begin the study from a professional basis and be drawn into some of the wider wonders, and secondly to intellectually curious art and history lovers worldwide who might have missed out on so much of this crucial world culture in a mainly western-oriented education system.
What other materials are available?
We are publishing many general-interest articles on this site architectureofbuddhism.com around the topics of The Golden Lands, travel to Southeast Asia, and Buddhism generally. We will also release a series of free maps to complement the book.
What are the launch events?
The first launch events will be from 1st September 2014 in London, with a series of book signings in other cities internationally in the months after: please see the separate list of events on this site.
Can I get involved?
We would love to hear from you for–
- Bookshops interested in hosting signings or wishing to sell the book
- Media, writers and publications to review the book
- Researchers and bloggers to contribute to our free online materials
- Travellers to send in photos and reflections to share with our online community in Facebook https://www.facebook.com/buddhist.architecture/
- Buddhists, Buddhist Studies experts, Asia historians, and Architects to feed back on the topics of the book
- Would-be writers and editors with book ideas
- Museums, galleries for author lectures and exhibitions
- Book clubs and societies for discount book offers for members