Early Art Beyond Europe Summary. Themes Styles/characteristics Subject matter Purpose Media. Chapter 6 : Paths to Enlightenment: The Ancient Art of South and Southeast Asia.
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Early Art Beyond Europe Summary
Buddhism: Siddhartha Gautama 563-483 BCE was the oldest son of a king who was prophesied to become a world conqueror or a great religious leader; so his father wanted to groom him to become king by sheltering him from hardships; at 29 he abandoned his family and renounced his opulent lifestyle and encountered suffering-old age, sickness, death- out in the world; he sought knowledge, meditated and achieved enlightenment, becoming known as Shakyamuni (Wise Man of the Shakya Clan) Buddha; in his first sermon he set in motion the Wheel (chakra) of the Law (dharma) and taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path of right understanding; this path would lead to nirvana, the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (a blissful state acquired by absorption of the individual soul or consciousness into the supreme spirit); he preached until he died at the age of 80; his disciples continued his teachings and established monasteries where other could follow Buddha’s path to enlightenment and nirvana; Buddha is not a god, but one who sees the ultimate nature of the world and is no longer subject to samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Great Stupa, Sanchi, India, c.200BCE, Maurya Period, 50’H, Sanchi was a Buddhist monastery founded during Ashoka’s reign; consists of many buildings built through the centuries; stupa dome is solid and filled with earth and rubble, and includes a double stairway on the south side leading to an upper level walkway; the 3 parasol-like structures on top represent the heavenly hierarchy; relics of Buddha and important monks were buried in the stupa; symbolic meanings transform it into a model of the cosmos;
The circular (mandala) plan represents the wheel of life and death; the egg-shaped mound symbolizes the World Egg that supports and is covered by the heavens; the mound rests on a platform aligned to the cardinal points representing the axis of the earth holding up heaven; each point has its own gateway with symbolic relief carvings; inside the gates are the railings encircling the path of ritual circumambulation to achieve purity.
Yakshi on the eastern gateway of the Great Stupa; stories of Buddha’s life and past lives are told on the gates; this erotic goddess figure holds the mango tree in a gesture representing fertility; Buddha’s mother is often represented as such;
Buddha is represented symbolically by footprints, wheels, thrones, trees and other inanimate objects at the Great Stupa.Why no images of theBuddha himself? Perhaps because he achieved enlightenment and had been freed from the confines of the body;Later, he is represented in human form, first as a robed monk; he is distinguished from actual monks and bodhisattvas by lakshanas or characteristics indicating his superhuman nature; they include a curl of hair between the eyebrows shown as a dot; a cranial bump shown as hair; wheels imprinted on palms and souls of feet; elongated ears from wearing heavy royal jewelry in his youth; a mandorla or nimbus (halo or sun disk) behind his head; and various mudras or hand gestures.
The Seated Buddha Gandhara style is Greco-Roman in character, with stylized hair and heavy drapery; the Mathura Buddha more resembles the yakshas from India in his bulk and masculinity in a monk’s robe, yogic pose and gesture that tells worshipers to have no fear; the latest of the three is Buddha preaching his first sermon has elements of both styles with a robe on both shoulders and smooth surfaces with softer features and downcast eyes, his hand in the Wheel-turning gesture; this became the standard representation of Buddha in later temples built to house the statues.
The Trimurti of Hinduism
Shiva as Mahadeva in rock-cut temple, Elephanta, India, sixth century. Shiva 17' high; shiva as the “Great God” or Lord of Lords; middle face is quiet and balanced; right is the female or creative aspect and at left the male is the destructive side; symbolic representation of cyclic pattern of death and rebirth;
Stupa, Borobudur, Java, Indonesia, ca. 800 A.D. cosmic mountain on earth, decorated with stupas, Buddha images, hundreds of relief carvings; four square terraces and three circular terraces lead to the closed stupa at the top, allows for circumambulation: the further one goes, the more one understands
Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia, 12th c.; built by a Khmer king, surrounded by a moat (oceans) and is a temple mountain representing Mount Meru, home of the gods and center of the Hindu universe; dedicated to Vishnu, ; rises in pyramid-like steps; each level punctuated by tower shrines connected with covered galleries; reliefs depict kings holding court; may have astronomical alignment;
Army of Emperor Shi Huangdi in pits next to burial mound, Shaanxi Province, China, Qin dynasty, c.210 BCE, painted terracotta, average figure 5’10⅞” high.
7,000+ life-size soldiers and horses were to act as immortal imperial bodyguards (originally brightly painted)
Thought to be part of a vast funerary palace (unexcavated)
Many very similar in pose, but with slight differences in facial features (sharp realism of detail)
Discovered in 1974 when peasants were digging a well
Xuankong Si (Hanging Temple), Hunyuan, China, Northern Wei dynasty, 386-534, (reconstruction 1368-1644) the temple and monastery are light and airy contrasting with the heavy, bulky rock; constructed from the top down, pieces built separately and then lowered onto the structure; column-bracket-beam system withelevated, projecting eaves and a pitched roof; this allowed for light, non-load-bearing walls; its location keeps it safe from floods, rain and snow; also, following a Daoist principle, it is above noises, making it a quiet retreat.
Great Wild Goose Pagoda at Ci’en Temple, Xian. c.650. Tang Dynasty. Constructed for a famous monk on his return from a 16 year pilgrimage to India, he taught and translated the materials he had brought back with him here; the pagoda, a typical East Asian Buddhist structure, originated in the Indian stupa which evolved into a multistoried form and here blended with a traditional Han watchtower to produce the pagoda. Although built in masonry, it imitates wooden structures of the time. Originally it had 5 levels, but was restored and modified in mid-8th c. when 2 additional stories and a finial was added.
is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist, and were often located in or near temples. This term may refer to other religious structures in some countries.
The pagoda's original purpose was to house relics and sacred writings.
Building method where beams are laid between columns with the beam length decreasing as it is stacked higher
The horizontal beams support vertical struts which in turn support higher beams
Purlins, roof support beams, ran the length of the building and held the rafters
Brackets were used to cantilever the roof to support the eaves (like capitals between the column and the architrave)
Bays were compartments formed by this construction that extended the length of the building
Seated Buddha, Datong, Shanxi, Wei Dynasty, c.460 CE,45’, cave 20 at Yungang; from the earliest phase of Buddhist sculpture in China; front of the cave no longer stands; has the elongated earlobes, protuberance on the head, and monk’s robe; style shows Central Asian influence.
Fan Kuan, Travelers among Mountains and Streams, Northern Song Dynasty, early eleventh century, Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 6’ 9”×2’ 5”.
Harmonious relationship between humanity and nature’s potential to transform the human spirit. Painters felt these works could transport them into a world of imaginary journeys.
Huge natural forms dwarf the human travelers making us aware of how small we are and how vast nature is.
Use of shifted perspective (some objects viewed from the top, others strictly from the side) and textured short staccato strokes (here raindropstrokes)
The central larger mountain flanked by smaller peaks reflects the Confucian sense of social hierarchy, and the Buddhist motif of the Buddha with bodhisattvas at his side, while the unspoiled nature conveys a Daoist ideal.