Shape skeletons are commonly used in generic shape recognition as they capture part hierarchy, providing a structural representation of shapes. However, their potential for shape classification has not been investigated much. In this study, we present a similarity-based approach for classifying 2D shapes based on their Asian skeletons (Asian and Tan, 2005; Aslan et al., 2008). The coarse structure of this skeleton representation allows us to represent each shape category in the form of a reduced set of prototypical trees, offering an alternative solution to the problem of selecting the best representative examples. The ensemble of these category prototypes is then used to form a similarity-based representation space in which the similarities between a given shape and the prototypes are computed using a tree edit distance algorithm, and support vector machine (SVM) classifiers are used to predict the category membership of the shape based on computed similarities. (c) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.