Stupas come in all shapes and sizes. Every culture has its own expression and a multiplicity of designs arising from different periods of history. Only in Tibet is there a design code or “tikse” that guides the proportion of each part of the stupa. This is due to the Tibetan Vajrayana propensity to symbolize everything and establish a standard in the service of visualization practice. This is true not only for the stupa, or chorten as the Tibetans call it, but for many other ritual forms such as refuge trees, deities, and mandalas.
This web site will concern itself primarily with Tibetan stupas, since these are the most common type being built in the West. Other stupa types are equally interesting and offer a different aesthetic. As Buddhist sanghas mature in the West, particularly those of S.E. Asia, we will be seeing an increasing variety in the landscape. There are also important stupa types that are not being built in the West, such as the old Indian stupas with their hemispheric mounds.
All stupa designs, contemporary or historical, are worthy of our attention. One of the goals of this web site is to post as much design material as we can get our hands on, so that you can go out and build one!