1. Attitude towards art in each of the following religions: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism
Christian art has been used to depict the doctrines of Christianity in the actual form. Most of the Christian groups have already used the art but many oppose some forms of the religious concepts. The most famous subjects are the pictures of Jesus as well as scenes that show the life of Christ. In addition there are scenes from the Old Testament and also images of the Virgin Mary.
Conservative Christians do not support visual arts; however, those from Canada have emphasized the functions in the practice of their faith. The conservative Christian group dismisses the art work because they do not believe that it has any positive value. They always demand to know the relationship between the arts and Christianity (Dyrness, 65). Despite the fact that the conservative Christians oppose the use of visual arts, there has been evidence showing their appreciation in the use of arts. This has been shown clearly by their use of artwork in churches, art shows in the Christian schools and articles in the publications affiliated with conservative Christians (Gunton, 20).
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There has been a lot of conflict, which has been found to be inaccurate, between religion and arts in Philadelphia. So, tension has occurred in many countries since most of the Christians do not clearly understand the relationship between religion and art. Some of the clergy oppose the use of art because,” such art was closely associated with the cult of the Roman emperor and with attempts to coerce Christians into showing devotion to the emperor’s image” (MacCulloch, 160). In addition, they condemn the use of images as idolatry, a practice that is strictly forbidden in the second commandment. The commandments are the core religious principles of Christianity. Nevertheless Catholicism still upholds the veneration of religious images. The practice is a sign of grace and it should not be confused with idolatry.
In Judaism, religion art started very early and it is incorporated elements of divinity, spirituality, prosperity and happiness. The Jewish desire to use art but they always fall into imitation, which is not creative at all and hence anti artistic. Just like Catholicism, Judaism strongly defends its religious art from accusations of idolatry. In addition reference is always made to the Torah. According to the Torah, “Thou shall not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.” (Veidlinger, 94). This commandment proves that Judaism does not condone idolatry.
Hindus use their religious art as a key to salvation (Begbie, 98). There has been a transition between the excavations and carvings made from the ancient caves with those observed in the Hindu temples. The cave temple was decorated in such a way that the Hindu take it is as one of their true wonders of the art world. According to one of the captains, “the carving on some of the pillars, and of the lintels and architraves of the doors, is quite beyond description. No chased work in silver or gold could possibly be finer.” (Boulanger, 62).
It becomes quite hard for a person to appreciate the Indian art because most people do not comprehend the principles that rule the mind if the Indians. According to Hinduism, their art is religious and its aim is to indicate religion. “Art for a Hindu is life as it is interpreted by religion and philosophy. Art for art’s sake is consequently unknown. Instead a symbolism was created to express various qualities of the superhuman soul and superhuman figures.”(Apostolos-Capadona, 59)
Buddhist art originated from the Hindu. It was adapted by many people thus its great expansion. People accepted it since they felt that there was a great connection between the art and faith. The art was in form of symbols which aroused respect to all the creatures (Huntington, 13). They did not use human-form symbols; rather they used symbols such as the wheel of law, a symbol that represented the four noble truths. The wheel image serves as a reminder of Buddha’s impact on spiritual wisdom. Buddha is accredited for his role in bringing about enlightenment. The turning of the wheel symbolizes the manner in which Buddha set divine knowledge in motion. That is the reason Buddha is commonly revered as the spiritual ‘wheel turner’ who changed the destiny of all Hindus via his teachings. Another common symbol is Buddha’s footprint and it represents the influence of Buddhist teachings on the world. Buddha’s foot reminds Hindus of Buddha’s divine omnipresence. The attitude of the Tibetan towards Buddhist art is that it helps the viewer to realize and understand spirituality (Hayes, 9).
2. Art function in the context of each religion
The use of Christian art led to a lot of controversy since majority said that it was going against the second commandment. But in the contemporary Christian religion, the image of Christ serves as a constant reminder of the savior. Christians devoutly commemorate the passion and actions of Christ. Christ is revered as the universal savior and his reincarnation into man is a sign of great humility. His death cleansed mankind from all sin and reinstated humanity back into the good favors of God. Christianity therefore celebrates Christ and his image is adored. Most noteworthy is the presence of Christ’s image in most churches.
This seven branched candelabrum is an ancient Hebrew symbol that depicts prosperity. It serves as a reminder of the Jew’s triumph over other antagonistic nations. Historically the Jews were the chosen people and the Old Testament constantly refers to them as God’s remnant. Despite God’s punishment over mankind, the Jews were always preserved and hence went unscathed. The Torah fully describes God’s covenant with the Jews. God promised to protect the Hebrew nation from all adversities. In return the Jews were to remain faithful to God’s commands. Overall, the Jews are God’s treasured people. This view has elicited criticism as God does not discriminate against his own children. Christians make reference to the New Testament, whose core teaching is universal salvation of all mankind irrespective of race, gender or ethnicity.
Lord Krisna was revered as a love god. His image serves as a reminder of divine love as well as infatuation. Hinduism images form a very significant aspect of Indian religion and philosophy. Symbolism was used to show different qualities of the superhuman soul and figures. “Indian Art is a blossom of the tree of the Divine wisdom, full of suggestions from worlds invisible, striving to express the ineffable, and it can never be understood merely by the emotional and the intellectual; only in the light of the Spirit can its inner significance be glimpsed.”
The symbols, in Buddhism, were used to represent Buddha, after his death, since they believed that no human image would do justice to his memory. Therefore the symbols function as a remembrance of Buddha. Besides, the symbols also represent his teachings. Buddha’s footprints signify the presence of Buddha, a supreme spiritual deity. The art is a representative of Buddha’s imprints on the ground.