Home Visual Glossary Sacred Spaces Shrine Room

From small domestic altars to grand temple halls, city-center stupas to mountaintop caves, the sacred spaces of Tibetan Buddhism are extraordinarily diverse. Inside, however, they share a great deal. The tradition’s many holy figures—human and divine, wrathful and peaceful—crowd walls and altars as practitioners fill the spaces with offerings, chants, and movement.

Not all shrines serve the same purposes or the same communities. The buddhas, bodhisattvas, protectors, and teachers who inhabit a space do so because of their specific spiritual powers and sectarian affiliations. Sculptures and paintings are carefully arranged to present the hierarchy of enlightened (and unenlightened) beings and to facilitate the choreography of ritual activity.

Here, enter the variety of Tibetan Buddhism’s sacred spaces, and explore the different practices that take place within and around them.

Shrines in Situ Shrines in Action