Tag: Religion and Spirituality

Religion Art: Adam, Eve and That Famous Apple

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Religion Art: Adam, Eve and That Famous Apple

Apart from narrative images, portraits of Adam and Eve are not common. Those one does find are likely to be nude sculptures of the first parents in their prelapsarian state – attractive young adults, as in the statues at right or this one from Notre-Dame de Paris or this willowy Eve at Autun.

Narrative images are seen in six different categories as follows.

The Creation of Adam and Eve

In the first account of creation God makes “man” in his image and likeness, “male and female” (1:26-31). In the second Adam is created from mud and Eve from Adam’s rib (2:7, 21-22).

The creation of Adam is seen in some Genesis sequences, for example the reliefs on the façade of Orvieto Cathedral and the mosaic sequence at the cathedral in Monreale, Sicily. We see the creation of Eve as early as a 4th-century Roman sarcophagus, where she is created by one of the earliest images of the Trinity. In the sarcophagus relief Eve is already standing by the side of the sleeping Adam, but later works such as the 12th-century mosaics at Monreale Cathedral and Palermo’s Palatine Chapel and the reliefs on the 14th-century façade of Orvieto Cathedral all show her emerging from Adam’s ribcage or torso.

Eve’s creation seems to be a more popular subject than Adam’s. In a 13th-century Swiss manuscript page with a medallion for each day of creation, the sixth day has God creating a human who is almost certainly Eve.

In modern illustrations the Creator will often be an old man with a beard, but in all the images mentioned here he is visualized as the Son, not the Father. The Son, who was to become incarnate as the man Jesus, is the “Word” of John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God and the Word was God.… And the Word was made flesh.” At least as early as the 2nd century Christian writers extended this to imply that it was the Son who interacted with Adam and Eve in the garden, and the artists followed this cue.1

Religion Art: Adam, Eve and That Famous Apple

The Fall of Man

In Genesis 3:1-8 the serpent persuades Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God had forbidden. Eve then gives some of the fruit to Adam and they immediately realize they are in big trouble. From the earliest times Christian writers identified the serpent with what Revelation 12:9 calls “that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world.”

The iconography of this narrative is exemplified in the second picture at right. This iconographic type has been in use since at least the 4th-century and has experienced little change. The couple stand on either side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, with Adam usually on the left. The serpent coils around the trunk of the tree, which carries fruit. Eve will be variously reaching for the fruit, taking it, and/or passing some to Adam. The couple is sometimes shown completely naked when they take the fruit, as stated in Genesis 2:24 and illustrated in the second picture at right. But most artists either pose them so as to preserve modesty (example) or simply neglect to include the genitalia (example).

Before the Gothic era the serpent was just a generic snake, but in the mid-12th century Peter Comestor wrote that there is a certain species of serpent that has the face of a young girl, and that Satan had chosen to use that kind of serpent to beguile Eve because “like heeds like.”3 This claim was repeated by subsequent commentators, the putative species acquired a name (“Draconcopedes”), and by the early 13th century female faces started to appear on the serpent.4 The earliest may be this relief at Amiens. By the 14th and 15th centuries they become quite common (example). The most illustrious example is Michelangelo’s panel on the Temptation in the Sistine Chapel.

God Confronts the Couple and Expels from Paradise

After they eat the fruit the couple realize they are naked and make themselves garments of fig leaves. These are almost always represented as single leaves covering the genitals, as in the third picture at right, where we see God confront them. The confrontation is less common in the art than the actual expulsion from Eden, in which God “cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims and a flaming sword turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). The images usually have an angel do the casting out, as in the fourth picture at right. That picture also portrays the “garments of skins” (3:21) that God made for the couple. These vary in the art, sometimes taking the form of shaggy tunics as at right and sometimes more leather-like as in this sarcophagus relief.

The fourth picture at right portrays a Cherub in addition to the angel, but that is much less common in the art.

The Assignment of Labors

As part of their punishment God tells Adam he will have to work to eat: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (3:19). The point is repeated a few verses later: “The Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken” (3:23). In the 8th century Bede commented on 3:19 that the curse of work applied to Eve as well (In Pentateuchum Commentarii, col. 213), and she has always been included in images of God’s assigning labor to mankind.

There have been two ways of looking at the curse. One was to see it as a plain hardship, as in this 12th-century relief where Adam and Eve bend sadly over a little hillock with their hoes, or this mosaic where Eve looks up disconsolately from her spinning. (The stereotypically female task of spinning thread is the one most commonly given to Eve in images of this kind.)

The other way of looking at the curse is to accentuate the positive. Sarcophagi of the 4th century, for example, symbolize the assignment of labor to the couple by showing Adam with a sheaf of wheat and Eve with a lamb (example). The sheaf represents the fruit of Adam’s labor. The lamb refers to the task of spinning, but with an emphasis on the lamb’s closeness to Eve and possibly a reference to the “lamb of God” that will be borne by Eve’s counterpart, Mary. A catacomb painting from the same century seems to show the couple’s progression from wearing animal skins to the more comfortable life that results from the labors God has assigned.

We see this optimism again in the Middle Ages in this example of domestic contentment in Adam’s family and in Bede’s remark that Adam “…was sent out from the paradise of bliss ‘to till the earth,’ that is, to labor in the body and gain for himself the merit to return to life, which is what the name of Paradise signifies, and be able to touch the tree of life and live forever” (ibid., col. 215, my translation). In the early sarcophagi this optimistic emphasis is so strong that the sculptors almost invariably place the sheaf of wheat in the scene of eating the fruit, as in this sarcophagus. There is another sarcophagus that puts both the sheaf and the lamb in the picture.

Adam Pictured at the Crucifixion

Medieval and earlier images of the Crucifixion sometimes include Adam in a coffin below the base of the cross (example). This is to remind the viewer that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:22), a point especially stressed in this manuscript illumination, where Adam holds a chalice to collect the blood falling from Jesus’ body on the cross.

The Anastasis or Harrowing of Hell

In “Anastasis” or “Harrowing of Hell” images the risen Christ rescues the souls of those who were faithful in the years before the Redemption. Adam and Eve are always the first of these. In western images they may be naked (example); in eastern ones they will be clothed (example).

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Baroque Art: Noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes

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Baroque Art: Noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes

Baroque in art and architecture, a style developed in Europe, England, and the Americas during the 17th and early 18th cent. The baroque style is characterized by an emphasis on unity among the arts. With technical brilliance, the baroque artist achieved a remarkable harmony wherein painting, sculpture, and architecture were brought together in new spatial relationships, both real and illusionary, often with spectacular visual effects.

Although the restrained and classical works created by most French and English artists look very different from the exuberant works favored in central and southern Europe and in the New World, both trends in baroque art tend to engage the viewer, both physically and emotionally. In painting and sculpture this was achieved by means of highly developed naturalistic illusionism, usually heightened by dramatic lighting effects, creating an unequaled sense of theatricality, energy, and movement of forms. Architecture, departing from the classical canon revived during the Renaissance, took on the fluid, plastic aspects of sculpture.

Baroque Painting

Painters and sculptors built and expanded on the naturalistic tradition reestablished during the Renaissance. Although religious painting, history painting, allegories, and portraits were still considered the most noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes were painted by such artists as Claude Lorrain, Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem Kalf, and Jan Vermeer.

Caravaggio and his early followers were especially significant for their naturalistic treatment of unidealized, ordinary people. The illusionistic effects of deep space interested many painters, including Il Guercino and Andrea Pozzo. Other baroque painters opened up interior spaces by representing long files of rooms, often with extended views through doors, windows, or mirrors, as in the works of Diego Velázquez and Vermeer.

Color was manipulated for its emotional effects, ranging from the clear calm tones of Nicholas Poussin, to the warm and shimmering colors of Pietro da Cortona, to the more vivid hues of Peter Paul Rubens. A heightened sense of drama was achieved through chiaroscuro in the works of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Carracci and Poussin portrayed restrained feeling in accordance with the academic principles of dignity and decorum. Others, including Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt depicted religious ecstasy, physical sensuality, or individual psychology in their paintings.

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Vishnu: The Supreme God in the Hinduism

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Vishnu: The Supreme God in the Hinduism

Vishnu is the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God.

The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatma (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. Vishnu governs the aspect of preservation and sustenance of the universe, so he is called ‘Preserver of the universe’.

In the Puranas, Vishnu is described as having the divine colour of water filled clouds, four-armed, holding a lotus, mace, conch (shankha) and chakra (wheel). Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a ‘Universal Form’ (Vishvarupa) which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination.

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Samadhi: Non-Dualistic State of Consciousness in Buddhism

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Samadhi: Non-Dualistic State of Consciousness in Buddhism

Samadhi in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and yogic schools is a higher level of concentrated meditation, or dhyāna. In the yoga tradition, it is the eighth and final limb identified in the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.

It has been described as a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object, and in which the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated though the person remains conscious. In Buddhism, it can also refer to an abiding in which mind becomes very still but does not merge with the object of attention, and is thus able to observe and gain insight into the changing flow of experience.

In Hinduism, samādhi can also refer to videha mukti or the complete absorption of the individual consciousness in the self at the time of death – usually referred to as mahasamādhi.

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Religion Art: Adam and Eve After the Expulsion from Paradise

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Religion Art: Adam and Eve After the Expulsion from Paradise

The Renaissance, in the largest sense of the term, is the whole process of transition in Europe from the medieval to the modern order. The Revival of Learning, by which is meant more especially the resuscitated knowledge of classical antiquity, is the most potent and characteristic of the forces which operated in the Renaissance. That revival has two aspects.

In one, it is the recovery of a lost culture; in another, of even higher and wider significance, it is the renewed diffusion of a liberal spirit which for centuries had been dead or sleeping. The conception which dominated the Middle Ages was that of the Universal Empire and the Universal Church. A gradual decadence of that idea, from the second half of the thirteenth century to the end of the fifteenth, was the clearest outward sign that a great change was beginning to pass over the world.

From the twelfth century onwards there was a new stirring of minds, a growing desire of light; and the first large result was the Scholastic Philosophy. That was an attempt to codify all existing knowledge under certain laws and formulas, and so to reconcile it logically with the one Truth; just as all rights are referable to the one Right, that is, to certain general principles of justice. No revolt was implied there, no break with the reigning tendencies of thought. The direct aim of the Schoolmen was not, indeed, to bind all knowledge to the rock of St Peter; but the truth which they took as their standard was that to which the Church had given her sanction.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, when Scholasticism was already waning, another intellectual movement set in. This was Humanism, born in Italy of a new feeling for the past greatness of Rome. And now the barriers so long imposed on the exercise of the reason were broken down; not all at once, but by degrees. It was recognised that there had been a time when men had used all their faculties of mind and imagination without fear or reproof; not restricted to certain paths or bound by formulas, but freely seeking for knowledge in every field of speculation, and for beauty in all the realms of fancy.

Those men had bequeathed to posterity a literature different in quality and range from anything that had been written for at housand years. They had left, too, works of architecture such that even the mutilated remains had been regarded by legend as the work of supernatural beings whom heathen poets had constrained by spells.

The pagan view was now once more proclaimed, that man was made, not only to toil and suffer, but to enjoy. And naturally enough, in the first reaction from a more ascetic ideal, the lower side of ancient life obscured, with many men, its better aspects. It was thus that Humanism first appeared, bringing a claim for the mental freedom of man, and for the full development of his being. But, in order to see the point of departure, it is necessary to trace in outline the general course of literary tradition in Europe from the fifth century to the fourteenth.

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The Majesty of Sistine Chapel

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The Majesty of Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel isn’t only about Michelangelo. It’s a collection of art from the minds and hands of other great Italian painters. The history of the Sistine Chapel can be traced back in the 1400s when the pope at that time, Sixtus IV della Rovere, opted to have Capella Mana renovated. The results are the different paintings and false drapes that do not only mean beauty but story as well.

Among the most popular painters who labored include Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Sandro Boticelli, and Pier Matteo d’Amelia, who painted the skies full of stars. It was in August 15, 1483, when Michelangelo Buonarroti took the responsibility of altering some of the designs of the Sistine Chapel, per the initiative of Julius II della Rovere, Sixtus IV’s nephew.

The Ceiling

The greatest art piece of the Sistine Chapel would probably be its ceiling. However, if not for the cracks that could have been effects of the excavation, we will not be able to appreciate the most magnificent work of Michelangelo. The tale of the ceiling is quite enthralling. It seems like God planted desire in Michelangelo’s heart. It should have just been a mere visual representation of the 12 Apostles.

Feeling dissatisfied, though, Michelangelo, with the full permission of Julius II, decided to change everything. If you will take a good look on the different depictions on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, you’ll know that it is actually composed of the 9 central stories that make up the Genesis, such as the Fall of Man, the story of Noah, and the Story of Creation. The painting usually starts at the entrance wall of the chapel.

The Last Judgment

After the Sack of Rome and before the start of the Council of Trent, Michelangelo worked on the Last Judgment, a huge mural occupying the entire wall at the back of the Sistine Chapel altar. It was a representation of the coming of Christ and the day of damnation. It showed the various nude souls descending into hell or ascending into heaven after they have faced clear judgment from Christ.

Looking at the Last Judgment, you will probably not feel awed of the entire backdrop but of the entire message it hopes to convey. It displayed the great reverence of the people to the ultimate power of God. The painting had been controversial, however, after Cardinal Carafa thought that it was very immoral and obscene, considering that the images were deliberately showing their genitals. He ordered the removal of the fresco, which could have been pushed through if not for the insistence and persistence of Michelangelo. To tame down its effect on the onlookers, the genital as were then later “covered” by Daniele da Volterra.

Touring the Chapel

There are many Italian tours that include visitation to the Sistine Chapel. You can even simply choose to tour the Vatican Museums, and definitely, you will land yourself inside the chapel. Normally, the tourists will arrive inside the chapel passing through the back portion of the altar. Then, they will observe the chapel until they can reach the entrance of the church. This will give them better opportunities to study and marvel at the different masterpieces surrounding and within the chapel. Nevertheless, before you can enter the chapel, you need to have tickets or entrance passes, which you can possibly get at the gates. Whiling Away at the Gorgeous Vatican Gardens

There’s one garden that will remind you that there will always be a special place you can run to whenever you feel troubled, but it doesn’t take the fact that its overall design is more than enough to make you feel so blessed for the rest of your life. Such can be the simple message you will get once you get into the Vatican Gardens.

A tour to the Vatican Gardens can take up to 3 hours. By now, you probably have a good idea of just how vast and big it is. In fact, it covers 1/3 of the entire land area of the Vatican City, the smallest country in the entire world. Walking through the various types of foliages means going back on the history that span for more than 2 centuries.

A Look-back on the Gardens

The history of the Vatican Gardens can be traced back on the times when it was then a large orchard and vineyard that’s part of the Apostolic Palace. It used to be surrounded by walls until it was torn down, and two courtyards emerged. They were called the Pine Cone, or Pigna, and the Belvedere. There are two reasons why the gardens were created. First, Nicholas V wanted to have a venue for their papal court ceremonies. He also liked something that would give him some form of entertainment.

Design of the Gardens is the same text of Vatican Gardens

Today, anybody can visit the Vatican Gardens, provided that they choose to take a private guided tour. Normally, it will be opened at 11:00 a.m., every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between March and October. For the remaining months, it will be accessible every Saturday, on 11:00 a.m.

The Vatican Gardens is like going through another kind of world-a beautiful one-as expressed by the pair of small arches that can be located at the back area of the First Martyrs Courtyard. There’s a 2-mile Renaissance Wall, which is now being occupied by the oval piazza and St. Peter’s Basilica. You can also find the world-famous Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, and other offices totaling almost 10,000 rooms.

The Different Species Found in the Gardens

Plants are not all Italian. As a matter of fact, it’s like taking a stroll into the different natural flora of the world, as almost every country is well-represented in the Vatican Gardens. You will be able to observe North America’s maples, evergreen magnolia, and plane trees; Lebanon’s cedars; Japan’s sago palms; and Tasmania’s eucalyptus, to name a few. Over the years, churchmen and missionaries contributed their own finds in the garden. Fortunately, they have found a great home in the Roman soil.

One of the highlights of the tour will be reaching the slope found at the eastern portion of the Vatican Hill, which was then considered to be infested with wild snakes by the ancient Romans. However, it’s also the perfect venue for the Etruscans to practice their prophecies. The hill today is far from the untamed jungle you may have in mind. It’s now covered with well-tended beds, lawns, and shrubs. There are around 30 gardeners who take care of the garden full time, so you know that you’re not going to be disappointed once you decide to visit.

There are simply some places on Earth that will make you feel that life can still be rosy and a walk in the park. Just think of the Vatican Gardens, and you’ll know what this means.

Related Links:

• The Big Three Names of the High Renaissance
• Leonardo Da Vinci
• Michelangelo Buonarratti
• Raphael
• The Majesty of Sistine Chapel
• The High Renaissance in Italy
• Why is it Called High Renaissance?

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Chanukah Candles and Star of David

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Chanukah Candles and Star of David

The Star of David

The Star of David , known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David is a generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.

Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles. The hexagram has been in use as a symbol of Judaism since the 17th century, with precedents in the 14th to 16th centuries in Central Europe, where the Shield of David was partly used in conjunction with the Seal of Solomon (the pentagram) on Jewish flags. Its use probably derives from medieval (11th to 13th century) Jewish protective amulets (segulot).

The term “Shield of David” is also used in the Siddur (Jewish prayer book) as a title of the God of Israel.

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Rembrandt – Christ in a Storm on the Lake of Galile Poster

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Rembrandt - Christ in a storm on the sea of Galile Poster
Rembrandt – Christ in a storm on the sea of Galile Poster by Framed_Paintings
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Christ’s Entrance into Jerusalem

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Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem

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The Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD

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The Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD

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