Art and Architecture of the World's Religions

by Leslie Ross


With examples of sacred art abounding in all cultures and among people of all religions, the link between art, architecture, and faith through time is undeniable. From Zen gardens to Gothic cathedrals, to African ceremonial masks, art and architecture offer windows into the human heart and the human spirit.

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Cover image for Art and Architecture of the World's Religions

June 2009


Pages 395
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Religion/General

Two abundantly illustrated volumes offer a vibrant discussion of how the divine is and has been represented in art and architecture the world over.

Beginning with the ancient worlds of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome and moving forward through time, Art and Architecture of the World's Religions explores the major faiths from countries and continents around the globe, helping readers better understand the creations their beliefs have inspired. After tracing the history and development of a religion, the book provides a general overview of its principal beliefs and key practices. It then offers specific examples of how works of art/architecture reflect that religion's values.

The focus of each chapter is on the temples, churches, and religious buildings, statues, paintings, and other works of art and architecture created by believers. Each representative work of art or architecture is examined in terms of its history, materials, symbols, colors, and patterns, as its significance is explained to the reader. With extensive illustrations, these volumes are the definitive reference work on art and architecture of the world's religions.


  • 200 illustrations, including floor plans of churches, synagogues, and temples bring the discussions of art and architecture to life
  • An extensive bibliography enables further research


  • Explores the sacred symbolism and biblical narratives revealed in the brilliant stained glass of soaring Gothic cathedrals
  • Explains how the architectural diversity of Jewish synagogue forms reflects enduring values and renewed traditions
  • Examines ways in which the intricate sculpture on Hindu temples expresses the vibrancy and complexity of the faith’s religious imagery
  • Reveals how the powers of divine spirits are evoked in traditional African arts, such as masks used in ceremonial performance
Author Info

Leslie Ross is professor and chair of the art history program at Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA. Her previous works include Greenwood's Medieval Art: A Topical Dictionary (1996), Text, Image, Message: Saints in Medieval Manuscript Illustrations (1994), and Artists of the Middle Ages (2003).



"Written in an accessible style for high school and up, this two-volume set offers background on how the divine has been represented in art and architecture around the world."—Reference & Research Book News

"Ross’ authoritative new work therefore stands alone in its class. Available both in print and as an e-book, it is recommended as a fine addition for all academic and art library reference shelves, virtual or otherwise."—ARBAonline

"This work will probably be most appreciated at an undergraduate college or in a public library with a large interest in religion. It could also be useful to anyone looking for general information or a beginning place for information about religion, architecture, and religious artifacts."—Library Journal

"Religion is often expressed and appreciated through art. Surprisingly, few books meld these two.
Similarly, few books compare religions in terms of their creative expression. For these reasons, professor
and art historian Ross’ set is a welcome reference work. . . . Offers a very useful and intriguing introduction and is
recommended for large public and academic libraries."—Booklist

"This well-researched set will be useful for history/art history students and faculty, rather than general readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above."—Choice

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