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Sacred art

Sacred art

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Sacred art is imagery intended to uplift the mind to the spiritual. Sacred art involves the ritual and cultic practices and practical and operative aspects of the path of the spiritual realization within the bosom of the tradition in question.

Christian European sacred art


This picture is about the Virgin Mary holding her child, Jesus
commissioned by the Catholic Church during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. It was during this time that Michelangelo Buonarroti painted the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

 and carved the famous Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

, Gianlorenzo Bernini created the massive columns in St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

, and Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

 painted the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

.

Most Christian art is allusive, or built around themes familiar to the intended observer. One of the most common Christian themes is that of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus
Child Jesus
The Child Jesus represents Jesus from his Nativity to age 12. At 13 he was considered to be adult, in accordance with the Jewish custom of his time, and that of most Christian cultures until recent centuries.The Child Jesus is frequently depicted in art, from around the third or fourth century...

. Another is that of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 on the Cross
Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...

. For the benefit of the illiterate, an elaborate iconographic system developed to conclusively identify scenes: Saint Agnes
Saint Agnes
Agnes of Rome is a virgin–martyr, venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Lutheranism. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass...

 depicted with a lamb, Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 with keys, Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland, although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints....

 with a shamrock. Each saint holds or is associated with attributes and symbols in sacred art.

The genre of sacred art has lost much of its vigor since the Renaissance, but the themes are still popular, a 20th century example being Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí
Salvador Domènec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol , commonly known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres,Spain....

's Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

or the mystical image of Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)
Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)
Crucifixion was painted in 1954 by Salvador Dalí, and depicts the crucified Jesus upon the net of a hypercube. Gala , is the figure in the bottom left, who stands looking up to the crucified Jesus. The scene is depicted in front of the bay of Port Lligat.The painting is in the Metropolitan Museum...

. After the Second World War some fine work was presented by major French artists following the impulse of Father Marie-Alain Couturier: the Vence Chapel
Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire
The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence , often referred to as the Matisse Chapel or the Vence Chapel, is a small chapel built for Dominican nuns in the town of Vence on the French Riviera. It was built and decorated between 1949 and 1951 under a plan devised by Henri Matisse...

, the Église Notre-Dame de Toute Grâce du Plateau d'Assy, the Église du Sacré Cœur d'Audincourt see: Jean René Bazaine
Jean René Bazaine
Jean René Bazaine was a French painter, designer of stained glass windows, and writer. He was the great great grandson of the English Court portraitist Sir George Hayter.-Studies:...

.

Some Christians regard all non-Christian cult image
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

s as idols
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

 that are worshiped in and of themselves, and do not consider them as "sacred art".

See also Madonna and Child, Icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

, Images of Jesus
Images of Jesus
The depiction of Jesus in art took several centuries to reach a conventional standardized form for his physical appearance, which has subsequently remained largely stable since that time...


Tibetan Buddhist sacred art


Most Tibetan Buddhist artforms are related to the practice of Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 or Buddhist tantra.
Tibetan art
Tibetan art
Tibetan art refers to the art of Tibet. For more than a thousand years, Tibetan artists have played a key role in the cultural life of Tibet. From designs for painted furniture to elaborate murals in religious buildings, their efforts have permeated virtually every facet of life on the Tibetan...

 includes thangka
Thangka
A "Thangka," also known as "Tangka", "Thanka" or "Tanka" is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, famous scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting...

s and mandala
Mandala
Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point...

s, often including depictions of Buddhas
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 and bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

s. Creation of Buddhist art is usually done as a meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

 as well as creating an object as aid to meditation. An example of this is the creation of a sand mandala
Sand mandala
The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand...

 by monks; before and after the construction prayers are recited, and the form of the mandala represents the pure surroundings (palace) of a Buddha on which is meditated to train the mind. The work is rarely, if ever, signed by the artist. Other Tibetan Buddhist art includes metal ritual objects, such as the vajra
Vajra
Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond...

 and the phurba
Phurba
The kīla is a three-sided peg, stake, knife, or nail like ritual implement traditionally associated with Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Bön, and Indian Vedic traditions. The kīla is associated with the meditational deity The kīla (Sanskrit Devanagari: कील; IAST: kīla; , pronunciation between pur-ba and...

.

Indian Buddhist sacred art


Two places suggest more vividly than any others the vitality of Buddhist cave painting from about the 5th century AD. One is Ajanta, a site in India long forgotten until discovered in 1817. The other is Dunhuang, one of the great oasis staging posts on the Silk Road...The paintings range from calm devotional images of the Buddha to lively and crowded scenes, often featuring the seductively full-breasted and narrow-waisted women more familiar in Indian sculpture than in painting.

Islamic sacred art


A prohibition against depicting representational images in religious art, as well as the naturally decorative nature of Arabic script, led to the use of calligraphic decorations, which usually involved repeating geometrical patterns that expressed ideals of order and nature. It was used on religious architecture, carpets, and handwritten documents. Islamic art has reflected this balanced, harmonious world-view. It focuses on spiritual essence rather than physical form.

While there has been an aversion to potential idol worship through Islamic history, this is a distinctly modern Sunni view. Persian miniature
Persian miniature
A Persian miniature is a small painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a muraqqa. The techniques are broadly comparable to the Western and Byzantine traditions of miniatures in illuminated manuscripts...

s, along with medieval depictions of Muhammad
Depictions of Muhammad
The permissibility of depictions of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, has long been a concern in the history of Islam. Oral and written descriptions are readily accepted by all traditions of Islam, but there is disagreement about visual depictions....

 and angels in Islam, stand as prominent examples contrary to the modern Sunni tradition. Also, Shi'a Muslims are much less averse to the depiction of figures, including the Prophets as long as the depiction is respectful.

Figure representation in Islamic sacred art


The Islamic resistance to the representation of living beings ultimately stems from the belief that the creation of living forms is unique to God, and it is for this reason that the role of images and image makers has been controversial.he strongest statements on the subject of figural depiction are made in the Hadith (Traditions of the Prophet), where painters are challenged to "breathe life" into their creations and threatened with punishment on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an is less specific but condemns idolatry and uses the Arabic term musawwir ("maker of forms," or artist) as an epithet for God. Partially as a result of this religious sentiment, figures in painting were often stylized and, in some cases, the destruction of figurative artworks occurred. Iconoclasm was previously known in the Byzantine period and aniconicism was a feature of the Judaic world, thus placing the Islamic objection to figurative representations within a larger context. As ornament, however, figures were largely devoid of any larger significance and perhaps therefore posed less challenge.
As with other forms of Islamic ornamentation, artists freely adapted and stylized basic human and animal forms, giving rise to a great variety of figural-based designs.

Calligraphy


Calligraphy is the most highly regarded and most fundamental element of Islamic art. It is significant that the Qur’an, the book of God's revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, was transmitted in Arabic, and that inherent within the Arabic script is the potential for developing a variety of ornamental forms. The employment of calligraphy as ornament had a definite aesthetic appeal but often also included an underlying talismanic component. While most works of art had legible inscriptions, not all Muslims would have been able to read them. One should always keep in mind, however, that calligraphy is principally a means to transmit a text, albeit in a decorative form.
From its simple and primitive early examples of the 5th and 6th century A.D., the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly after the rise of Islam in the 7th century into a beautiful form of art. The main two families of calligraphic styles were the dry styles, called generally the Kufic, and the soft cursive styles, which include Naskhi, Thuluth, Nastaliq and many others.

Geometry


Geometric patterns make up one of the three nonfigural types of decoration in Islamic art, which also include calligraphy and vegetal patterns. Whether isolated or used in combination with nonfigural ornamentation or figural representation, geometric patterns are popularly associated with Islamic art, largely due to their aniconic quality. These abstract designs not only adorn the surfaces of monumental Islamic architecture but also function as the major decorative element on a vast array of objects of all types.

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