Monday, September 28, 2009

Chinese Structure

When one hears the word "Structure" the image of a building of some kind or a naturally occurring form is what automatically forms in their mental vision. In Chinese architecture, just like Chinese art, structure or organization within a form is key. Balance also prevails in the architecture of China as well as Chinese Art. The bi-lateral symmetry of Chinese architecture represents the balance that is personified throughout artistic history of China. Numerology became a huge influence in Chinese archtitecture thus several buildings are based on the number 9. The Forbidden City is said to have 9,999 rooms.

A picture of the front stairway of the Forbidden City.

A diagram of a Siheyuan in Beijing that demonstrates the bi-lateral symmetry found in most ancient Chinese buildings.

"Chinese Architecture." Wikipedia. Web. 28 Sept. 2009. .
"Chinese Architecture." ThinkQuest. Web. 28 Sept. 2009. .

Friday, September 25, 2009

Indian Art Influence in Fashion

Being a person whose art is influenced greatly by fashion and my own designs, I wanted to talk about the transcending influence of Indian art to their own fashion as well as fashion around the world. In most countries fashion and textiles are an art form that many aspire to create or wear. From clothing of ancient times to the fashion on the modern run, India has much influence on color, patterns embroidery, and styles of clothing.

The patterns and floral motifs were first recognized in the architecture of the mosques in India. Indian design of clothing began with the influence of the art on the walls in the building in which they worship.

Close up of floral motifs and geometrical patterns, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, Qutb Complex, New Delhi, India

Side sanctuary of Taj Mahal masjid, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Full o f floral patterns and geometric shapes in architecture. Also note the vibrant colors.

Through the influence of pattern of Indian art, the population of people began to repeat it in their attire. As seen in examples below of natives of India in today's society.

Photo from a wedding in India
And here is an example of the influence spreading to the run way and Hollywood in Western societies. Here is a website that will lead you to a gallery of actresses in Hollywood who are in Indian influenced attire.

In all Indian culture has transcended from the ancient architecture to modern society's clothing.

Images from:

last images I want to be seen are on the website that I have written in the above paragraph.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Discord in Art

"Savage State" by Thomas Cole

"Desolation" by Thomas Cole

Kali Standing on Shiva

There are many examples of artwork which include the idea of Discord. Discord being a disagreement or lack of harmony between persons or things.  One work of art consists of Kali standing on top of the body of Shiva.  Shiva is the creator and destroyer and Kali is often related to war along with time and change.  Pictured above is an illustration of Kali standing on the body of Shiva.  Ironically, Shiva showed up to stop the aggression of Kali and in the end, Kali calmed down.  It's ironic because Shiva is a creator and destroyer and she stopped Kali from destroying.  These two different aspects of destroying and creating would be considered discord.  Kali is often shown as a black figure referring to death while Shiva is often a lighter color and covered in white ash which also shows discord.

In western art, Thomas Cole did a series of five paintings called "The Course of the Empire."  This series shows the growth and fall of a made up city.  The series consists of "The Savage State, The Arcadian State, The Consummation of Empire, The Destruction of Empire, and Desolation."  This series depicts how the rise and fall of man occurs or the creation then destruction of human power which relates to Kali and Shiva.    

Friday, September 18, 2009

Discord in the story of Ganesha

Life of Ganesha Tapestry

In the dictionary the definition of discord is the lack of agreement between things. In music, it can mean without harmony or noise and racket. When thinking of disharmony or disagreement in literal terms, I think of the story of Ganesha. He was the son of Parvati and Shiva, and was outside protecting their palace when his father had returned from a long trip, did not recognize his son and knocked his head off. Parvati was so upset, and taking discord in its literal meaning, had a disagreement with Shiva. She made Shiva bring Ganesha back to life and replace his head. The closest animal around was the elephant, so that's what Shiva used for Ganesha's head. The image below is an image of baby Ganesha with his mother Parvati after his tragedy. Ganesha himself is a definition for discord. His head, being that of an elephant, does not agree with the rest of his body, which is that of a man.

Images from:

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Discord is the lack of concord or harmony between persons or things, Ex. marital discord. It's also a disagreement or difference of opinion. Some synonyms are strife, dispute, and war. These words all tie into gods and goddesses in the Hindu religion.
Two of the main controversial gods to me are Shiva and Devi. We all know that Shiva and Devi ( also known as Parvati) had two children, what some didn’t know is that they were rumored to have a third child. His name was Andhaka. One day Parvati closed Shiva's eyes with her hands and instantly darkness fell over the world. The goddess hands were drenched in Shiva's fluid born of passion, and when this was heated by the heat of Shiva's third eye it grew into a horrendous child, blind and ghastly. Parvati still loved and cared for the child. But as Andhaka grew, he became a demon lusting for his own mother, and was eventually put to death by Shiva.
I chose this story because Shiva didn’t want anymore children, but Parvati went and disobeyed him any way. As a result of this a demon child was born. Discord was present from the beginning till the end; especially when Andhaka was put to death.

In this picture Shiva is killing his son Andhaka. When I saw this I coludn’t make out what was happening, but when I really looked at it it became interesting. After all these year the definition is still there. At the top of the picture you can see the gods or demon, I’m not sure which, watching what Shiva is doing. To me it shows what kind of powwer he has. No one is trying to impose on what he’s doing. He also exsudes power with the weapon he has in his right hand. This picture shows the rath and strenth of Shiva.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


What is discord? How does it relate to Non-Western Art?

To understand discord and its relation to Non-Western Art, we have to look at its definition, synonyms, and antonyms. Discord is the lack of agreement or harmony between people, ideas, or things. Some of the synonyms of discord are chaos, bedlam, and animosity. The antonyms of discord are order, unity, and peace. In many Non-Western Cultures, discord and unity go hand in hand; thus does chaos and order. A prime example is one of the main concepts of Hinduism religion and culture which is that creation and destruction occur in a never-ending cycle. So if it is a major part of the religion and culture the discord and unity (creation and destruction) theme will occur in the art of that culture.

Discord and Unity in Hinduism Art, Religion, and Culture

In these two images one can see Kali (left) and Shiva (Right). They both appear in similar poses, standing on top of a body, and holding corresponding symbolic objects. Both of these gods, deal with discord, chaos, and destruction. However, Shiva is also a god of creation, unity, and peace. and Kali is a goddess of change. In the picture of Kali, one can see that Kali is standing atop of Shiva. This represents destruction conquering creation. However, Kali can not truly conquer Shiva because of his ties to creation and destruction. So thus the cycle of birth and death, creation and destruction, unity and discord continue.

Here are more images of Shiva and Kali being depicted together or having intercourse as the symbolic representation of the uniting of masculine and feminine into a single harmonious entity. Once again, symbolizing the on going cycle of creation and destruction.

Another form of Shiva is Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. Nataraja is an extremely popular figure in Hindu Art. Nataraja dances within a ring of flames with his right foot on the demon Apasmara (personification of illusion and ignorance) and his left foot raised. This dance is called the Anandatandava or The Dance of Bliss. It symbolizes the cycle of creation and destruction(as well as the daily cycle of life and death) because Nataraja preforms his dance to destroy an old universe while the god Brahma prepares to create a new one. It also symbolizes Shiva's conquering of illusion and ignorance.


Osborn, Gary. "Sunya: The Inner Sun." Paradigmshift. Gary Osborn, 1997. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. .

Das, Subhamoy. "Nataraj: The Dancing Shiva." Web. 16 Sept. 2009. .

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Avatars of Vishnu

Bhagavad Gita 11.16

pasyami tvam sarvato ’nanta-rupam
nantam na madhyam na punas tavadim
pasyami visvesvara vishva-rupa

"O Lord of the universe, O universal form, I see in Your body many, many arms, bellies, mouths and eyes, expanded everywhere, without limit. I see in You no end, no middle and no beginning."

- from the online, searchable Bhagavad Gita

Singapore. Statue of Krishna as Vishnu in his Vishwarupa (Universal form). Krishna showed his Vishwarupa to Arjuna, during the narration of the Bhagavad Gita before the Mahabharata war.

Photo: Steve Jurvetson


Friday, September 11, 2009

European Influence on Modern Japanese Artists?

   Ando Hiroshige             Vincent van Gogh
"Ohashi Bridge in the Rain

With the trading of goods and supplies between the Europeans and Japanese, Europeans and Americans became fascinated by Japanese art and culture.  Many European artists started collecting large quantities of Japanese prints.  These prints were full of brilliant color, asymmetrical compositions, unorthodox points of view, and images of everyday life.  Western style of art at this time, the mid to late 1800's, consisted of more classical and academic tradition.  The founders of early modernism in the West were influenced by Japanese art and many of these Western artists were Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.  

With the Western ideas of art concentrating more towards the classical and academic traditions, and more recognizable throughout the world, one would think the Japanese style of art would start to concentrate more towards the more academic style. But on the contrary, Japanese art influenced Impressionists and Post-Impressionists of the Western world.  For example, Vincent van Gogh, studied the Japanese prints and started to make copies of them, but he changed the style of painting to have more of a Western style.  His brush strokes were more noticeable throughout his paintings rather than the blending of color and values by the Japanese painters.  The Japanese artists started to use oil paint, but rather than using the more academic style, their style consisted of using the oil paint to almost sketch out the figures and background.  Their brush strokes were more noticeable and incorporated the Impressionists technique.  

There are some similarities and differences between the era of modern paintings between Western and Eastern cultures.  Both Western and Eastern painters are influenced by the other.  Western painters started painting with less of an academic structure and with more brilliant colors, while Eastern painters used oil painting but used it more in a sense of sketching or drawing rather than blending of colors.  Rather than one culture influencing the other, both played significant roles in the modern ideas of painting.  

Reference:  "Art Beyond the West" by Michael Kampen O'Riley, second edition

Adam and Eve: Western and Eastern

It is undeniable that different cultures of the world have different explanations for the creation of the world. Though the religious standards of these cultures differ, some aspects of the story ring true to have the same representation in character and art. Adam and Eve are the focal point of these creation stories, and as well as in religious script, they are portrayed in art. There are similarities in the Quran and the bible about Adam and Eve, thus making aspects of there art concepts similar.

Western interpretations of Adam and Eve

This is a painting of Adam and Eve from western cultures. The anatomy of the bodies and making them look more realistic is the main objective of this piece. The concern for ascetics in this piece pull away from the actual story. In western cultures and in Christianity, Eve, the woman, is the one to take the apple from the serpent and gave it to Adam. In this, the creation story is based on the sinfulness of the humans making this religion begin on the platform that all are sinners.

Islamic Adam and Eve

In eastern cultures the story varies and this religion, among others, is concentrated around the nature and earth that is being developed in the story. In the piece above, the Islamic Adam and Eve are colorful but flats characters of the portrait. Everything in the piece is more concentrated on the scenery and abounding natural life in the Garden of Eden. In this religion they think more about being one with nature and enlightenment rather than disobeying certain standards to forever be considered a sinner.

Images from:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lion Symbols in Buddist and Chinese Cultures

Asiatic Lion

The lion is an unmistakable symbol in almost every culture. Despite similarities in other cultures, I wish to discuss the the similarities of lions in art and as symbols in Chinese and Buddhist cultures. Buddhism uses the lion as a representation of Buddha. In the Buddhist religion and culture, the lion embodies majesty, strength, and virtue. There are also mythical lions that are usually depicted on Buddha's "thrones" and they are known as snow lions. These snow lions appear very similar to the Rui Shi of China.

Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka
Drawing of a Mythical Snow Lion

Snow Lion Statue protecting the Potala Palace

Rui Shi

The Rui Shi are also known as Fu Lions and it is believed that the original model for the design of the Chinese lion was the Chow-Chow. Ironically, the Lion is not native to China yet it remains a prominent symbol of the culture. Now the reason for the similarity may be due to the spread of Buddhism to China, but for to be accepted by the Chinese Buddhism had to adapt to Chinese traditions and daily life.

Imperial Lioness Guard with cub

Imperial Lion Guard

Note the Chow-Chow's similar appearance to the Rui Shi

"Chinese Guardian Lions." Wikipeida. Web. 9 Sept. 2009. .
"GENERAL BUDDHIST SYMBOLS." A View on Buddhism. Web. 9 Sept. 2009. .

Image Sources:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

The Bibi-Khanym Mosque (also spelled Bibi-Khanom and Bibi-Kanyum) is located in Samarkund, Uzbekistan. It is one of the largest and most complex mosques in this area. Construction of the mosque began in the 14th century and continued throughout the 20th century. It was built in Samarkund due to the fact that it was the capital of Timur at the time. The construction began approximately in 1399. A renovation of the mosque started early in the 20th century in order to save the foundation after this beautiful architecture was damaged by an earthquake around 1906. The picture below is an early color photograph of the earthquake damage.

The mosque is appealing because of the very intricate tile designs all over the exterior of the building. The mosque is made up of many buildings and a few domed towers. The tile around the tops of the domes are in a pattern of Islamic script. The bottom of the buildings are sparse decorated with bright blue and green tiles and as your eyes ascend to the top of the building the designs become more dominant and cover most of the dome. It brings up the same idea about the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; the closer the building grows to heaven the beautiful and outstanding the appearance becomes to represent heaven.
The inside view of one of the domes.

The Bibi-Khanym Mosque shares the same appearance at the entrance as the Great Congregational Mosque in Isfahan. They both have a pointed arch way over the door, as well as, the same symmetry with vertical pillars to the right and left. The yard of the mosque is a huge bazaar, where merchants trade and buy goods. A website that features a video of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque that contains many different angles and views of all parts of the mosque;

Images from:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Selimiye Mosque

The Selimiye Mosque is located in Edirne, Turkey and was built between 1568 and 1574. More information can be found on the
The thing that first drew my attention to this particular mosque was the attention to detail in the interior of the dome. The dome is relatively high up, but the small details are present at the very top. The design in the middle of the dome interior appears to be Islamic script in a circular design. The use of red and blue was done in a way that does not overpower the artwork, and the colors work together nicely.

The exterior is also interesting. The 4 large towers surrounding the mosque give the mosque a very unique look that can be recognized from a long distance away. The mosque is comprised of 8 large pillars set up in an octagonal pattern. The center of the mosque has a stable feel to it. The mosque apparently does not only look stable, but it is stable.

In 1913 the mosque was hit by artillery fire during a Bulgarian siege. The mosque did not give in, but only had minor damage. The damage was however not repaired in order to teach future generations a lesson. The Selimiye Mosque is also positioned in the center of a külliye.The mosque seems to carry the theme a center area as everything revolves around the center of the mosque just as Mecca is the center for Islam.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Al Kadhimiya Mosque

What is a mosque?

A mosque is a place of worship for people of the Muslim faith. Mosques can either be small, private ones or large, public ones. They are a place where Muslims can come together in mass salat (prayer). Almost all mosques have elaborate domes, minarets, and large prayer halls.

Similarities and Differences

Mosques and Churches are similar in several ways. Both are houses of worship and prayer. They differ in architectural design and decoration. Men and women get dressed up and worship together in churches, while in mosques men and woman worship in separate rooms and woman are dressed modestly. Churches are filled with the sound of preaching while Mosques are normally silent save for the sound of murmured prayers.

Al-Kadhimiya Mosque

The Al-Kadhimiya* Mosque is located in Baghdad, Iraq. The Al-Kadhimiya Mosque has several arches both decorative and architectural. The Al-Kadhimiya design also incorporates two large domes, four minarets, pillars, a chandelier, and lots of right angles. All of the arches are decorated in bright colors, such as blues, yellows, golds, pinks, etc., mosaics, and with intricate flora designs.

Front of the Al-Kadhimiya Mosque at Night

Close-up of one of the arches

*is also spelled as Al-Kadhimain

Image Sources:

Works Cited:
"Al Kadhimiya Mosque." Wikipedia. Web. 2 Sept. 2009. .
"Mosque." Wikipedia. Web. 2 Sept. 2009.
"Mosque vs. Churches." Topix. 14 Nov. 2007. Web. 2 Sept. 2009. .

Shazia Sikander

ART21 video from Hulu about Shazia Sikander, a contemporary artist that works in the Persian Miniature tradtion: