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Mark Standan & John Hoskin - Buddha in the Landscape: A Sacred Expression of Thailand

No other country in the world offers the wealth and variety of statues of the Buddha found in Thailand. These monumental statues are intended to have visual impact, and they do. They are in all regions of Thailand -- the rugged, forested hills of the north, the emerald paddy fields of the central plains, the tropical islands and plantations of the south. The photographer, Mark Standen, artfully pictures the Buddhas in their many manifestations -- executed in brilliant white with gold headdresses, tiled from top to bottom with small, taupe-colored tiles; standing, seated, or lying down; demonstrating various mudras (symbolic gestures.) Coupled with the superb color photographs is an insightful text, giving background on the Buddhist religion, Buddhism in Thailand, and how these religious statues are created.

This is my number-one favorite book for giftgiving. It is exquisitely bound in green silk cloth with gold-stamped letters. It is worth every penny. Consider it as a top choice to give to anyone who appreciates the beauty of serene Buddhist images. The seated and walking Buddhas are absolutely huge -- some of the largest in the world! Their appearance in the landscape -- mostly rural, but some urban -- acts as a re-centering focus for those who view them. They also function to acquaint people with the postures and hand gestures of Buddhist iconography. Often, this then causes a recollection of Buddhist wisdom. To see the image of a human being taking life very seriously is an excellent reminder that it is our birthright as humans to achieve the exact same serenity through meditation and enlightenment.

The postures of mediation in all of daily life's activities are shown in some of the finest photographs I have ever seen in any book.

Pomegranate, Rhonert Park, CA, (800)-227-1428, www.pomegranate.com, 0-7649-0770-0, 280 pages, 275 color photographs, large hardback, $50.00 (nice, honest price.)

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