The acceptance of the Indian religion of Buddhism in China, which was marked by persecutions as well as by substantive adaptations of doctrines, remains one of the most interesting dialogues in religious history. The style and iconography of Chinese Buddhist art, particularly from the 5th through the 8th centuries, provides a visual record of the many ways in which the beliefs, customs, and aesthetics of India and China were accommodated to each other to form a distinctive, sinicized tradition of Buddhist thought and art -- one that would spread from China to Korea and Japan.
The development of paradise cults and imagery is a hallmark of East Asian Buddhism. The belief that multiple Buddhas and bodhisattvas inhabit different paradises or pure lands (kshetriyas) is common in Buddhism and is discussed in much Buddhist literature. Despite a strong textual tradition, images of these heavenly spheres are relatively rare in India and Southeast Asia. Much of the East Asian iconography of this type can be traced to the images that evolved in China beginning in the 6th century.