Name Son-Mey Chiu
School Boston Latin School
Project Title Buddhism through Art



Boston Latin School

.Grade 11

Chinese Level 4

Chinese Language and Culture

Time Frame:   2006-2007



The Study of Buddhism in China Imported through the Silk Road

    This curriculum unit at Boston Latin School serves as a general introduction to Buddhism.   Buddhist art is used to help students in Grade 11 in the Chinese Language and Culture program to understand the teachings of the Buddha and to study the development of Buddhism transported from India through the Silk Road in China and Tibet .   Students will first come into direct contact with Buddhist literature, and then examine the life and teachings of the Buddha and the major branches of Buddhism.

Relation to the Chinese 4 Language and Culture Course

    Chinese, like all the other modern languages, is taught according to the National Standards for Foreign Languages or the “Five C’s”:   Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Community.   In the Chinese 4 Language and Culture course there is a unit on the geography, history and the arts of the Silk Road .   Since Buddhism was imported to China from India during the Han Dynasty through the Silk Road exerting important influence on Chinese culture and civilization, it is an important topic in the study of Chinese culture.   Through Buddhist art from China, India and Tibet, students will familiarize themselves with this religion and, in future lessons, will compare it with other religions, in particular, Christianity, a major religion in America.

The Design


     students will focus on the study of Buddhism after studying the Silk Road era spanning sixteen centuries, beginning in the 2 nd century B.C.E, from Asia to India and to the Mediterranean, .   They will focus on the questions:   What were the historical forces that promoted trade and movement of people?   How Buddhist art in form of sculptures, paintings and architecture reflect the beliefs, culture and art in China and Tibet ?   What influences do they see from Greek and Indian culture on Chinese Buddhist art?    

Understanding Goals:

  • To get acquainted with the Silk Road.
  • To understand the wisdom of Buddhism through original literature.
  • To study the life of the Buddha and his teachings.
  • To study about the varieties of Buddhism.
  • To compare the Buddha’s teachings with Christianity. (This lesson plan is not included in the NEH curriculum unit.)

Students will research on these questions:  How did Buddhism travel to China? How did Buddhism offer wisdom for living?  What effect did Buddhism have on Chinese beliefs, culture and art? How did Buddhism differ from other philosophies and religions, namely, Confucianism, Daoism and Christianity? (The last question will be dealt with in future lesson plans.)

Performances of Understanding

  • Watching the “ Silk Road ” video series, the episodes on The Glory of Ancient Changan and The Art Gallery on the Desert.
  • A web quest:   students work in teams to collect Buddhist images from online galleries such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, to share with the class with commentary in a PowerPoint presentation.
  • A trip to the Boston of Fine Arts to look at Buddhist art.
  1. Ongoing assessment of performances of understanding
  2. A role-play exercise:   students propose a Silk Road trading expedition presenting Buddhist art products and performances to a group of investors.
  3. Students will write their reflections in Chinese 


This site was created by (insert name) at the NEH Summer Institute "Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region," held at the College of the Holy Cross, Summer 2006