Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tibetan Thangka Paintings

The thangka is a striking visual art form that originated in Nepal and later spread to neighboring Tibet along with Buddhism beginning in the 7th century A.D. (the oldest surviving thangka dates from 999 A.D.). “Thangka” means ‘that which can be rolled up,’ because it is a painted or appliqué image on a cotton or silk scroll. Thangkas typically depict Buddhist deities, stories or mandalas. They can range from a few inches in size to over 60 feet wide for giant festival thangkas, which are displayed on buildings or hillsides.

Thangkas combine styles and motifs from several cultures. Because they were first developed in Nepal, the style of the figures is Nepalese, though the measurements, costumes and objects are Indian (Buddhism originated in India). The background landscapes are based on Chinese art.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chinese artist He Qi

He Qi (pronounced “Huh Chee”) is a contemporary Chinese Christian artist that paints primarily biblical themes and scenes. However, he combines these stories with Chinese cultural elements drawn from the colorful folk art of the Chinese countryside, and rural Tibet. In addition to these sources, he also references the iconography of the Western Middle Ages and Modern Art. If you aren't familiar with his art and story, click here to read more about the symbolism in his work and his own personal journey.

Sumatra: Isle of Gold

Here's an interesting review of an exhibit about the cross-cultural art of Sumatra at the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.  Too bad I won't be able to make the trip...

Monday, August 9, 2010

First Nations artist Don Froese

I featured this image on my very first post.  There's a great article (p. 1-2) about the First Nations artist who carved it, Don Froese.  The wood carving is beautiful and Froese gives a full description of the symbolism.  It's absolutely awesome to see such beautiful First Nations/Native American artwork contextualized to show Christ's love for the artist and his people.  Check it out!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Origins and Meanings of the Eight-Point Star

For fans of Islamic art (especially Moroccan zillij), here is an interesting article by Sarah Tricha on the eight-point star pattern, or Khatim.  You see this motif repeated throughout the art and architecture of the Islamic world.  The article has loads of interesting information about the origins and astrological associations with the pattern, which shows that its meaning has been both redefined (as is often done in contextualization), and possibly syncretised, over the centuries.

Oddly, the author neglects to discuss the traditional meaning of the symbol to Muslims.  

In any case, I found the information at the end of the article about the Breath of the Compassionate pattern to be fascinating in regards to contextualization, although the description was way too abstract and vague for me (but see a fuller description here, about halfway through the article). It did, however, make me wonder what it would look like if believers who were also zillij artisans were to create new patterns that somehow incorporated both biblical and complimentary koranic meanings, while at the same time honoring and infusing new life into a very traditional Moroccan art form. The symbolism behind these patterns, as well as those found on Moroccan pottery, is something I'd like to learn more about (no luck from the books I've purchased thus far).