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WHAP: Visual Sources

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Shazma Khan

on 20 May 2014

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Transcript of WHAP: Visual Sources

Why do you think the Kushan artist who created this image chose to weave together so many distinct cultural strands? In order to encompass many traditions that found a place among the people of Central Asia
To represent the diverse range of cultures of the people
To represent the blending of cultural traditions that was so common, and show Central Asia's new and colorfully blended culture created with elements from the most prominent traditions in the area: Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Persian. Context Kushans: Pastoral nomadic people from western edge of China
Established empire in the northwestern region of Asia (India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan).
Parts of empire were previously ruled by Alexander the Great ---> Greek culture became prominent element of Kushan cluture
Hinduism and Buddhism both flourished
In the Image, we see a Kushan pendant
Cultural blending eminent
Medallion displays Hariti, a Hindu goddess who abducted and killed children.
Buddhist elements changed her to a compassionate protector of children.
In the medallion, she is holding a lotus blossom, a prominent Buddhist symbol
Medallion also features Greek culture
Scholars think Hariti was modeled after Greek Goddess, Tyche, who was also portrayed holding a cornucopia
Tunic worn with a belt ---> of Greek/Hellenistic era
Persian elements also incorporated
Flowers surrounding the image
Borders of pearls and stylized flowers derives from Persia Visual Source 8.1:
Greek Culture, Buddhism, and the Kushans What does the story of Hariti's transformation tell us about the impact of Buddhism in the region? Elements of Buddhism were incorporated into Hinduism
Hariti was transformed from a fearsome goddess into a compassionate protector.
She is holding lotus flowers At the end of the monk's staff hangs what is probably a container for relics. Why might such relics have had such an appeal for the faithful? Can you identify a similar veneration of relics in other religious traditions? Visual Source 8.2:
Buddhist Monks on the Silk Road \ On his back the monk is carrying a heavy load of Buddhist texts. Why do you think the monks were so eager to acquire and disseminate such texts? What function does the small Buddha sitting on a cloud at the upper left play in this painting? The image of the Buddha hints to the viewer the traveler is a monk, and on a religious journey
It also implies that the Buddha is the motivation of the traveler to continue with his long journey
The little Buddha supported by a cloud may be there to protect him Context Buddhism took hold in Central Asia, in cities along the Silk Road.
Monks traveled the Silk Roads
Many of them headed to India in search of sacred texts and holy relics
This image is a Chinese painting that shows a monk traveling on the Silk Road
The monk is leading a tiger
symbol of protection and courage as well as a messenger between heaven and earth
recalls story of the Buddha compassionately offering his blood and body to feed hungry tiger cubs and their mother How might traditional Chinese officials respond to this painting? How might they react to the inclusion of women in a royal hunt? Negatively
Chinese officials at this time were great supporters of Confucian philosophy
Confucianism supports the idea of female submissiveness
The woman is displayed as an equal
Is included in the picture
Is on a hunting expedition with men
Is riding a horse What features of the landscape and depictions of people and animals illustrate the world of pastoral people from which the Mongols had come? The caravan of camels traveling behind the sand dune at upper right
necessary adjuncts to indicate the geographical location
Sandy, windswept landscape
Mongols mostly came form dry areas
Gobi desert Visual Source 8.4:
The Mongols in China Why do you think Khubilai Khan commissioned such a painting? What impression of himself did he seek to convey? What upper element of Central Asian history are suggested by the camel train in the upper right? The Chinese recieved "heavenly horses" from the nomads
Before that ---> camels were mostly used for trade accross the Silk Road
Context The Mongols were clearly Central Asia's most well-known peoples
Under the leadership of Chinggis Khan, rival pastoral tribes brought together under the Mongol Empire
The world's largest.
Empire encompassed China, Persia, Russia, and many other nomadic peoples of Central Asia
Generated many cross-cultural encounters and interactions
Greatest significance of Mongol presence in China (1279)
Ruled in a largely Chinese fashion
Sought to preserve their own culture though
Visual Source 8.4 was a painting commissioned by Khubulai Khan
What image of these dervishes was the artist trying to convey? The dervishes are in a trance
Many have their eyes close
They are doing the wirling dance and trying to make direct contact with Divine
The way their bodies are positioned
Other dervishes playing instruments in the background: flute, drums, sticks Visual Source 8.5:
Islam, Shamanism,
and the Turks Context Turkic peoples occupied much of Central Asia
Sometimes created sizable empires
Settled down as farmers
Theyconverted to Islam
Huge armies penetrated Central Asia, Muslim merchants prominent along Silk Road
Muslim holy men: "Dervishes".
Spiritual seekers: sought direct contact with God
Visual Source 8.5 shows Turkish dervishes performing the "whirling dance"
Intended to bring participants into direct contact with Divine
Drew upon ideas and practices of ancient Central Asia
Shamans connecting with spirits
Bleding of mystical sufism and shamanism: example of mixing cultural traditions

Why might such holy men have been effective missionaries of Islam in Central Asia? Because they are men that have supposedly "made direct contact with God"
Connected to spirit world
Reflected ideas that many Central Asians were already familiar with
whirling dance
shamanism Notice the musical instruments that accompany the turning dance -- Sticks on the left, a flute like instrument in the center, and drums on the right. What do you think music and dance contributed to the religious experience of the participants? Music and dance seems to be a pathway to connect with God
The whirling dance is used to reach spiritual transcendence
Listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles
A form of meditation and peace that helps to connect with spiritual dimension
Music and dance might uplift a man's spirit Why might the Greek goddess Tyche have been used as a model for Hariti? Tyche was the goddess that determined the fortune and prosperity of a city. She determined its destiny.
Hariti, with a cornucopia in her left hand, resembles Greek Tyche, who also holds a cornucopia.
The cornucopia comes from Greek myths and was a horn of a goat that brought up Zeus. When the goat’s horn broke, Zeus blessed it, and from that moment the horn was brimming with everything its holder wanted.
Tyche might have been used as a model for Hariti because she is linked with good fortune, luck, success and prosperity. Shazma Khan
April 5, 2013
WHAP Visual Sources:
Chapter 8 Context Uighurs: Turkish speaking peoples living north of the Gobi Desert
gained a considerable amount of Chinese influences
traded extensively with the Chinese
looted Chinese cities
married Chinese princesses
acquired Manichaeism
Persian Origin
Prophet Mani fashioned a religion that understood world as a conflict between forces of Light (the soul) and Dark (material world).
Visual source 8.3 comes from a Manichaean book
Displays a number of priests writing at their desks
Text in the middle warns against those who are corrupt
Priests are all left-handed, and the script is running from bottom to top
Symbolizes the corrupt world of Darkness How would you read the overall religious message of the painting? What might suggest the ultimate triumph of the Light? Warns against hypocritical priests
The text running down the middle translates to a warning against those who "pray false prayers" and "believe in a wrong and contrary law"
Displays that light will always prevail
The trees bearing flowers and fruits suggest the ultimate triumph of the Light What does the presence of this Persian-based religion among a distant Central Asian people suggest about the post classical Eurasian world? Connected
Culture is diffused from far away lands
The Silk Road Visual Source 8.3:
Manichean Scribes Introduction The huge region between the Caspian Sea and western China: Central Asia
Peoples pursued mostly a pastoral and nomadic way of life
The area functioned as a vital Eurasian crossroad
Economic crossroad: The Silk Road
Cultural and religious crossroad
Imperial Crossroad
Central Asia, basically, was a vast area of intense cross-cultural interaction
Images that follow provide a brief look into a few of Central Asia's many people and to the mingling of their cultures with those of the wider world. By Shazma Khan Because the monks wanted to spread their beliefs through the translated texts they acquired from distant lands
Monks preached to local populations and passing travelers, spreading the faith rapidly Relics help us to honor and to help keep connected to those men and women who are our heroes in faith.
Also, many cures and miracles are attributed to relics
The Church altar, the center of worship for sacred liturgy, contains a saintly relic.
The Shroud of Turin
Islam, Hinduism
Holy water In order to establish himself as a person who, regardless of being immersed in Chinese culture, stays true to his pastoral nomadic self.
The painting shows the Mongol ruler on a dark horse, wearing fur that covers his Chinese royal garments
He is accompanied by a female
Display himself as fierce
depicted in a hunting excursion on the steppes
Display himself as powerful
There are ten horses in the painting, with an equal number of people
Display himself as grand
dressed in the imperial robe and a lambskin great coat, holding the reins on a black horse and looking majestic

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