Friday, October 2, 2015

Red Fudo: Initial Reaction 

The colors used in this piece are all very warm tones, reds, golds and browns. This palate makes the figures and scenery blend together in a sense without much interruption.The definite focal point would be the imposing red figure in the upper left. However the eye seems to be directed towards the middle, where the red figure is holding a thin white rope in his left hand. The rope stands out in vivid contrast with the red of his skin and lavish robes. In his right hand he is holding a staff or sword with a golden dragon curled around it.Besides the impressiveness of the red figure himself, there are some very interesting things going on around him. He seems to be sitting on a pile of large stones with flames swirling around in the background. There are two presumably human figures standing down at the feet of the red figure. There is an odd facial feature that all three figures share. They all seem to have a set of large teeth or fangs. The two smaller men are still well dressed but they do not share the same ornate jewelry of the larger red figure. This might suggest they are servants or followers of red figure. 
Red Fudo
Peehyoro Acala 

Red Fudo: After Research

This painting is part of the Esoteric Buddhist art movement, in which traditional Buddhism spread into Japan. As it spread it began to grow and develop sub-sects of the practice. In this case the universal Buddha leads a group of different deities. The red figure  in this piece is called Fudo Myo-o, or the Immovable one. He is one of the minor deities that the Buddha rules over. Fudo Myo-o is one of five Wisdom Kings, they each represent a different aspect of the Buddha's teachings. Fudo Myo-o is one of the more fierce deities, the red hue of his skin, glaring eyes, fangs and imposing size represent his ability to slay demons. The objects he carries are also to aid in the spreading of the Buddha's teaching. The white rope Fudo Myo-o holds is in fact a lasso which he uses to guide lost souls towards enlightenment. His golden sword with the snarling dragon represents lightning which can sever any notion of delusion.The two men with him are indeed some of his faithful attendants. 


References: Kampen O'Riley, Michael. "Japan and Korea", Art Beyond the West, 2nd           Edition. 164-165. 2006, Print.
Asia Society: the Collection in Context. Japan,                                       2007.

Coyolxuahqui Monolith


This is a relief sculpture made from stone of an Aztec female who has been decapitated and dismembered.  The subject is very decorated which leads me to believe that she was an important figure.  She wears a large feathered headdress and ornate jewelry and sandals.  Snakes are tied around her waist and appendages.  Faces are also carved on her knees and elbows.  Although the composition is a bit chaotic there is still a circular movement and flow to the piece.

Researched Information

The figure in this work is Coyolxuahqui, an Aztec goddess featured heavily in the culture's mythology.  She can be identified by the dismembered body and the bells on her face, Coyolxuahqui translating to "Bells Her Cheeks".  The figure is displayed naked, which was seen as a sign of humiliation in this culture.  Her folded skin in the stomach area and sagging breasts suggest that she was a mother.  The scalloping shapes along the arms, legs, and neck represent torn flesh and pieces of bone can also be seen protruding from her appendages.  The stone was originally painted with vibrant colors which would have made the artwork much easier to read.  The background was painted red to represent a pool of blood, her skin would have been painted a shade of yellow, and her accessories would have been highlighted as well.  This stone was found at the Templo Mayor, the main temple of the Aztecs, in Mexico City.  The Templo Mayor is separated by two temples that are located on top of the pyramid.  The monolith was placed at the base of the stairs on the  side of Huitzilopochtli, an Aztec deity associated with warfare and the sun.  This artifact was so important to the Aztecs that as the temple grew and was expanded upon, the stone was buried and new versions were recreated and placed on top of the previous ones at the new base of the temple.  The Aztecs had a festival devoted to the myth of Coyolxuahqui where they would sacrifice war captives on the Huitzilopochtli side of the temple and roll the bodies down the stairs to symbolically reenact the killing of Coyolxuahqui. 


Coatlicue, the mother of Coyolxuahqui, was sweeping on top of snake mountain when a ball of feathers falls into her lap and she is miraculously impregnated.  Coyolxuahqui becomes furious and gathers her 400 brothers to storm the mountain and kill their mother.  Huitzilopochtli then springs from his mother's womb as an adult and fully armed and fights his siblings off.  He cuts the head off of Coyolxuahqui and tosses her body down the mountain where it breaks into pieces at the base of the mountain.

Photo Credit:  Miguel Angel Alvarez Bernardo  


Initial Reaction

This statue from the Japan and Korea section of the book really stood out to me because it was very beautiful and intriguing. There is a lot of details in some places, such as the crown and the object the figure is sitting on, but there are also many parts to this that have very little line work and detail showing, such as the torso, face, and arms. It seems to have been carved out of jade. The crown is very detailed with many little bits of filigree and complex designs. The face is in a very peaceful and meditative state and the skin that is shown is very smooth with very little detail, besides the bands around the arms and the wrist. The figure appears to be sitting on some sort of leaf-like object and a pedestal of some sort, like something you might find in a temple of some sort. The carving is incredibly detailed at the bottom of the pedestal and there are tiny rectangles carved completely through the stone where you can see through the figure. The figure has it's hand touching it's cheek while the hand rests on it's leg, which is crossed over the other and suspended. 

After Research

The sculpture is actually gilt-bronze. The pose it sits in represents the "pensive pose" and they are usually called Maitreya. They are not exactly Buddha, rather they are called "bodhisattava" and are said to be from the "cosmic era." They are referred to as the "future Buddha" who are said to descend from the Heavens and bring forth the teachings, or the "law," when the teachings of Buddha have decayed entirely. The name Maitreya means many things such as "friendliness," "kind," and "loving." I think after researching it, my reaction changed in the way that it makes more sense for it to be called Maitreya, because it's face looks very kind, friendly, and loving. I feel like I understand the piece a lot better, it gives in a much needed back story that I didn't know before. 


Image Source:
Photographer: Lawinc82
Research Sources:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gilt-bronze Maitreya in Meditation

     I was initially attracted to this piece because it reminded me of the elegance of Etruscan art. The smooth, sensual curvature of the form and the content of curvilinear lines throughout it create a sense of calmness, but solidity simultaneously. My first reaction upon viewing the sculpture was--It is beautiful! I then pondered the question, who does the form represent? what is its meaning?

    The Gilt-bronze Maitreya in Meditation is a guilt-bronze statue of what is believed to the Maitreya, the future Buddha, in a semi-seated contemplative pose. It is commonly referred to as the Contemplative Bodhisattva or Gilt-Bronze Seated Maitreya in English. It is the National Treasure of Korea No. 83
    The statue is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest Buddhist sculptures ever produced and is a masterpiece of Korean art. It is now housed at the National Museum of Korea and is one of the most popular exhibits there.
    The statue is believed to have been made in the early 7th century. Recent scholarship consensus indicates that the statue is probably from Silla because of its drapery fold studies although some believe that this was a Baekje piece. It is 93.5 centimeters tall and is therefore incredibly valuable because few large bronzes survived fro that period. It is made of bronze, and at one point was plated in gold. The figure is perfectly proportional and the sensuality of the draping  both suggest that the sculptor based this work on a real model.