It is an edited collection of the author's most important articles on oriental art and symbolism, with illustrations from the traditional oriental civilizations. These illustrations provide an insightful descriptions and explanations, with a small taste of the beauty that permeated the traditional Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist worlds - a beauty that has in large part been overwhelmed and swallowed by our modern era.
Part I, 'Oriental Art', begins with Burckhardt's introduction to traditional oriental art. In the following three chapters the author explores the artistic foundations of each of the three great oriental religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, focusing particularly on the Hindu temple, the Buddha image, and Chinese landscape painting.
Part II provides insights that enable us to compare the underlying spiritual values that are the foundation for traditional cultures, with the quantitative analyses that are the starting point for today's technological societies. In the following five chapters Burckhardt then explores examples of selected recurring symbols in the oriental worlds, such as the mirror, the sacred mask, and the serpent and dragon.