April 14, 2009
Both pieces of artwork I have chosen are Bodhisattvas. To understand these pieces it is important to have a slight understanding of the Buddhist religion and some of its ideals and practices. Buddhism datesback to the fifth century BCE. Siddhartha Gautama, son of a ruler of India, had foretold at his birth by seers that he would either become a Buddha or a great ruler (Hagen, 26). After a shelter upbringing that his father hoped would shape him into a leader like himself, Siddhartha left his home at the age of 29 and wandered in the forest meditating. It was at this point that he achieved enlightenment and thus became a Buddha. After this he began his teaching based on four noble truths (Hagen, 33). The entire religion is based off of principles of education, generosity, giving, and sacrifice. From these principles we derive the being called a Bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is an enlightened being who chooses not to reach nirvana in order that they maystay to help others on their path to achieving nirvana (Fuchuan, 15). This ultimate sacrifice goes to the core of their religion (Fredericks, 87). Both pieces we are viewing today are both Bodhisattvas but of greatly different origins. The Ajanta bodhisattva comes from the Deccan region of India (Stokstad, 326) while the Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva comes from The Song-dynasty of China. The Ajanta Bodhisattva, painted in 475 AD, was created in the Gupta period of India history. It was a short-lived but greatly influential time period that brought about a rise in the arts (Williams, 2). Under the Gupta rulers’literature, sculpture, and painting flourished. The subject matter was often either Buddhist or Hindu. The Seated Guanyin bodhisattva, however, is Chinese. It was carved in the tenth century AD, much later than our other piece. It was created under the Song dynasty which was noted for its richness and grandeur (Gardner, 320). Song dynasty...
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