I was reading that early Buddhist art doesn't actually depict the Buddha. Instead it shows an empty space, a dharma wheel or a footprint where you would expect the Buddha to be shown. It was only later (maybe 1st century CE?) that the Buddha was represented in art. I would be really interested to see any examples of this kind of art. Could anyone post some links or the images themselves of this kind of early Buddhist art.
One of the oldest Buddhist stone structures in India is the Great Stupa at Sanchi, and it has a lot of stone reliefs that have this kind of thing. Here's one example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanchi#mediaviewer/File:Sanchi_Carving.jpg
Here are pictures of Buddha's footprints: https://www.google.com/search?q=Buddhapada&tbm=isch
The footprints are a.k.a. Buddhapada.
This is off-topic because it is later than "early" buddhism, but your question reminded me of the "10 bulls" illustrations (which are, if not early, at least famous, and use an emptiness to represent enlightenment).
- Here it's the 8th of the 10:
- Or in the second of these two series it's the last of the ten.