Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky (Russian: About this sound Серге́й Миха́йлович Проку́дин-Го́рский​, August 30 [O.S. August 18] 1863 Russian Empire – September 27, 1944) was a Russian chemist and photographer. He is best known for his pioneering work in color photography of early 20th-century Russia.[1]

Early life
Prokudin-Gorsky was born in the ancestral estate of Funikova Gora, in what is now Kirzhachsky District, Vladimir Oblast. His parents were of the Russian nobility, and the family had a long military history.[2] They moved to Saint Petersburg, where Prokudin-Gorsky enrolled in Saint Petersburg State Institute of Technology to study chemistry under Dmitri Mendeleev. He also studied music and painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts.

Marriage and career in photography
In 1890, Prokudin-Gorsky married Anna Aleksandrovna Lavrova, and later the couple had two sons, Mikhail and Dmitri, and a daughter, Ekaterina.[3] Anna was the daughter of the Russian industrialist Aleksandr Stepanovich Lavrov, an active member in the Imperial Russian Technical Society (IRTS).[3] Prokudin-Gorsky subsequently became the director of the executive board of Lavrov's metal works near Saint Petersburg and remained so until the October Revolution. He also joined Russia's oldest photographic society, the photography section of the IRTS, presenting papers and lecturing on the science of photography.[4] In 1901, he established a photography studio and laboratory in Saint Petersburg. In 1902, he traveled to Berlin and spent six weeks studying color sensitization and three-color photography with photochemistry professor Adolf Miethe, the most advanced practitioner in Germany at that time.[5] Throughout the years, Prokudin-Gorsky's photographic work, publications and slide shows to other scientists and photographers in Russia, Germany and France earned him praise,[3] and in 1906 he was elected the president of the IRTS photography section and editor of Russia's main photography journal, the Fotograf-Liubitel.[4]

Perhaps Prokudin-Gorsky's best-known work during his lifetime was his color portrait of Leo Tolstoy,[6] which was reproduced in various publications, on postcards, and as larger prints for framing.[3][7] The fame from this photo and his earlier photos of Russia's nature and monuments earned him invitations to show his work to the Russian Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1908, and to Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1909.[4] The Tsar enjoyed the demonstration, and, with his blessing, Prokudin-Gorsky got the permission and funding to document Russia in color.[8] In the course of ten years, he was to make a collection of 10,000 photos.[9] Prokudin-Gorsky considered the project his life's work and continued his photographic journeys through Russia until after the October Revolution.[3] He was appointed to a new professorship under the new regime, but he left the country in August 1918.[10] He still pursued scientific work in color photography, published papers in English photography journals and, together with his colleague S. O. Maksimovich, obtained patents in Germany, England, France and Italy.[3]

Later life and death
In 1920, Prokudin-Gorsky remarried and had a daughter with his assistant Maria Fedorovna née Schedrimo. The family finally settled in Paris in 1922, reuniting with his first wife and children.[4] Prokudin-Gorsky set up a photo studio there together with his three adult children, naming it after his fourth child, Elka. In the 1930s, the elderly Prokudin-Gorsky continued with lectures showing his photographs of Russia to young Russians in France, but stopped commercial work and left the studio to his children, who named it Gorsky Frères. He died at Paris on September 27, 1944, and is buried in the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery.[3]

The three-color principle
The method of color photography used by Prokudin-Gorsky was first suggested by James Clerk Maxwell in 1855 and demonstrated in 1861, but good results were not possible with the photographic materials available at that time. In imitation of the way a normal human eye senses color, the visible spectrum of colors was divided into three channels of information by capturing it in the form of three black-and-white photographs, one taken through a red filter, one through a green filter, and one through a blue filter. The resulting three photographs could either be projected through filters of the same colors and exactly superimposed on a screen, synthesizing the original range of color additively; viewed as an additive color image by one person at a time through an optical device known generically as a chromoscope or photochromoscope, which contained colored filters and transparent reflectors that visually combined the three into one full-color image; or used to make photographic or mechanical prints in the complementary colors cyan, magenta and yellow, which, when superimposed, reconstituted the color subtractively.[11]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Nag Hammadi library

The Nag Hammadi library[1] is a collection of early Christian Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. Twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local peasant named Mohammed Ali Samman.[2][3] The writings in these codices comprised fifty-two mostly Gnostic treatises, but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation/alteration of Plato's Republic. In his "Introduction" to The Nag Hammadi Library in English, James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and were buried after Bishop Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 AD.
The contents of the codices were written in the Coptic language, though the works were probably all translations from Greek.[4] The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898 (P. Oxy. 1), and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD has been proposed for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas. The buried manuscripts themselves date from the third and fourth centuries.
The Nag Hammadi codices are housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. To read about their significance to modern scholarship into early Christianity, see the Gnosticism article.

Discovery at Nag Hammadi
The story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945 has been described as 'exciting as the contents of the find itself'.[5] In December of that year, two Egyptian brothers found several papyri in a large earthenware vessel while digging for fertilizer around the Jabal al-Ṭārif caves near present-day Hamra Dom in Upper Egypt. The find was not initially reported by either of the brothers, who sought to make money from the manuscripts by selling them individually at intervals. It is also reported that the brothers' mother burned several of the manuscripts, worried, apparently, that the papers might have 'dangerous effects' (Markschies, Gnosis, 48). As a result, what came to be known as the Nag Hammadi library (owing to the proximity of the find to Nag Hammadi, the nearest major settlement) appeared only gradually, and its significance went unacknowledged until some time after its initial uncovering.
In 1946, the brothers became involved in a feud, and left the manuscripts with a Coptic priest, whose brother-in-law in October that year sold a codex to the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo (this tract is today numbered Codex III in the collection). The resident Coptologist and religious historian Jean Doresse, realizing the significance of the artifact, published the first reference to it in 1948. Over the years, most of the tracts were passed by the priest to a Cypriot antiques dealer in Cairo, thereafter being retained by the Department of Antiquities, for fear that they would be sold out of the country. After the revolution in 1952, these texts were handed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, and declared national property.[6] Pahor Labib, the director of the Coptic Museum at that time, was keen to keep these manuscripts in their country of origin.
Meanwhile, a single codex had been sold in Cairo to a Belgian antique dealer. After an attempt was made to sell the codex in both New York and Paris, it was acquired by the Carl Gustav Jung Institute in Zurich in 1951, through the mediation of Gilles Quispel. There it was intended as a birthday present to the famous psychologist; for this reason, this codex is typically known as the Jung Codex, being Codex I in the collection.[6]
Jung's death in 1961 caused a quarrel over the ownership of the Jung Codex, with the result that the pages were not given to the Coptic Museum in Cairo until 1975, after a first edition of the text had been published. Thus the papyri were finally brought together in Cairo: of the 1945 find, eleven complete books and fragments of two others, 'amounting to well over 1000 written pages' are preserved there.[7]


The first edition of a text found at Nag Hammadi was from the Jung Codex, a partial translation of which appeared in Cairo in 1956, and a single extensive facsimile edition was planned. Due to the difficult political circumstances in Egypt, individual tracts followed from the Cairo and Zurich collections only slowly.

This state of affairs changed only in 1966, with the holding of the Messina Congress in Italy. At this conference, intended to allow scholars to arrive at a group consensus concerning the definition of gnosticism, James M. Robinson, an expert on religion, assembled a group of editors and translators whose express task was to publish a bilingual edition of the Nag Hammadi codices in English, in collaboration with the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. Robinson had been elected secretary of the International Committee for the Nag Hammadi Codices, which had been formed in 1970 by UNESCO and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture; it was in this capacity that he oversaw the project. In the meantime, a facsimile edition in twelve volumes did appear between 1972 and 1977, with subsequent additions in 1979 and 1984 from publisher E.J. Brill in Leiden, called The Facsimile Edition of the Nag Hammadi Codices, making the whole find available for all interested parties to study in some form.
At the same time, in the German Democratic Republic a group of scholars—including Alexander Bohlig, Martin Krause and New Testament scholars Gesine Schenke, Hans-Martin Schenke and Hans-Gebhard Bethge--were preparing the first German language translation of the find. The last three scholars prepared a complete scholarly translation under the auspices of the Berlin Humboldt University, which was published in 2001.
The James M. Robinson translation was first published in 1977, with the name The Nag Hammadi Library in English, in collaboration between E.J. Brill and Harper & Row. The single-volume publication, according to Robinson, 'marked the end of one stage of Nag Hammadi scholarship and the beginning of another' (from the Preface to the third revised edition). Paperback editions followed in 1981 and 1984, from E.J. Brill and Harper respectively. A third, completely revised edition was published in 1988. This marks the final stage in the gradual dispersal of gnostic texts into the wider public arena—the full complement of codices was finally available in unadulterated form to people around the world, in a variety of languages. A cross reference apparatus for Robinson's translation and the Biblical canon also exists.[8][1]
A further English edition was published in 1987, by Yale scholar Bentley Layton, called The Gnostic Scriptures: A New Translation with Annotations (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1987). The volume unified new translations from the Nag Hammadi Library with extracts from the heresiological writers, and other gnostic material. It remains, along with The Nag Hammadi Library in English one of the more accessible volumes translating the Nag Hammadi find, with extensive historical introductions to individual gnostic groups, notes on translation, annotations to the text and the organization of tracts into clearly defined movements.
Not all scholars, however, agree that the entire library should be considered Gnostic. Paterson Brown has argued forcefully that the three Nag Hammadi Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Truth cannot be so labeled, since each explicitly affirms the basic reality and sanctity of incarnate life, which Gnosticism by definition considers illusory or evil: 'Are the Coptic Gospels Gnostic?'.[9]

Found Here:

The Nag Hammadi Library
The collection of books contains religious and hermetic texts, works of moral maxims, Apocryphal texts, and more curiously, a rewriting of Plato's Republic.

In addition to the importance of the manuscripts for the history of books (they are the oldest known books to date) and Coptic palaeography, they represent a key source of evidence for the history of philosophy and primitive Christianity.

Nevertheless, it is extremely difficult to analyse them, because we know nothing of their authors, circumstances or place where they were written.

On the other hand, they can currently be considered as a decisive element in the research of the beginnings of gnosticism.

The Gnostic texts of Nag Hammadi
These religious (or Gnostic) texts propose interpretations and Christian rituals that are different from those officialised in 325 AC and which were immediately rejected as heretical at the time. That is why they were gathered together, protected and hidden by the so-called deviant communities.

Gnosis means knowledge. In this respect, Gnostics differed from Christians in their relation to the sacred texts, given that they attached importance to the esoteric, and not the historical sense. Gnostics consequently considered the divine to include aspects like interior and secret knowledge, which is passed on by tradition and initiation.

The Nag Hammadi library offers a wealth of evidence of such trends in Gnosticism that claim to contain a secret teaching whilst sometimes drawing inspiration from the Old Testament.

Nag Hammadi and Hermetisme
The corpus of the collection contains so-called hermetic books in line with the tradition of the Corpus Hermeticum.

Codex VI actually comprises an untitled treatise, known as The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, a prayer of thanksgiving and a long fragment of the Perfect Discourse. These last two texts are partly included in the Asclepius, whereas the first one is a completely original work.

These texts can be sidelined, as they digress from the Gnostic theories widely spread in the rest of the collection. Their main interest, however, lies in their highly pronounced Egyptian inspiration, compared to the Greek and Latin texts currently known. Furthermore, they do not reject the Egyptian religion, but offer to spiritualise it. Hermetism is more than a Christian-like religious system, is it a way.

These three texts provide a complementary and sufficient overview of the entire hermetic doctrine, the initiatory path supposed to lead to divine enlightenment. It represents one of the fundamental differences between Christians and Gnostics (or Hermetics). Whereas Christianity is based on the historical truth, the Gnostic and hermetic trends attach great importance to symbolism and even the allegorical


refers to texts that bear a resemblance to canonical books and present figures from Christianity, but do not belong to the New Testament.


refers to the Christians originating from Egypt.


a doctrine according to which some types of knowledge must not be disclosed to the general public, but reserved for a closed group of disciples.


Gnosticism encompasses the various forms of religious thought in the Roman empire between the 1st century BC and the 4th century AC, and was mainly based in Alexandria. All these forms are strongly characterised by the duality between the material, which was rejected, and the spiritual. Gnostic thought was declared heretical by the Church.


all the religious trends running parallel to Catholicism, but condemned by the Church as corrupting the dogma.


a doctrine resulting from a series of texts traditionally attributed to Hermes.

Source Q:

this term comes from the German Quelle, meaning source, and refers to the passages common to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, also known as the double tradition.
Content of the Nag Hammadi Library

The library comprises 13 books, known as codices according to the scientific name given to any collection of sheets folded in two and sown together. These books represent the oldest known specimens to date.

Found Here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp
Oil on canvas
147 cm × 89.2 cm (57 78 in × 35 18 in)
 Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (French: Nu descendant un escalier n° 2) is a 1912 painting by Marcel Duchamp. The work is widely regarded as a Modernist classic and has become one of the most famous of its time. In its first presentation at the Parisian Salon des Indépendants, it was rejected by the Cubists and caused a huge stir during its exhibition at the 1913 Armory Show in New York following a press copy of an abuse scandal. The work is now found in permanent exhibition at the Louis and Walter Arensberg Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia.

The work, an oil painting on canvas with dimensions of 147 cm × 89.2 cm (57.9 in × 35.1 in) in portrait, seemingly depicts a figure demonstrating an abstract movement in its ochres and browns. The discernable "body parts" of the figure are composed of nested, conical and cylindrical abstract elements, assembled together in such a way as to suggest rhythm and convey the movement of the figure merging into itself. Dark outlines limit the contours of the body while serving as motion lines that emphasize the dynamics of the moving figure, while the accented arcs of the dotted lines seem to suggest a thrusting pelvic motion. The movement seems to be rotated counter-clockwise from the upper left to the lower right corner to move, where the gradient of the apparently frozen sequence corresponding to the bottom right to top left dark, respectively, becomes more transparent, the fading of which is apparently intended to simulate the "older" section. At the edges of the picture, the steps which are indicated in darker colors. The middle of the image is an amalgam of light and dark, that becomes more piqued as one approaches the edges. The overall warm, monochrome bright palette of the painting ranges from yellow ocher, to dark, almost black tones. The colors are translucent applied. At the bottom left of the painting Duchamp placed as title, "NU DESCENDANT UN ESCALIER" in block letters, which may or may not be related to the work, as the question of whether the figure represents a human body remains open; the figure viewers infer gives little clue to its age, individuality, character, or sex (though the work's title has the masculine gender).

The painting combines elements of both the Cubist and Futurist movements. In the composition, Duchamp depicts motion by successive superimposed images, similar to stroboscopic motion photography. Duchamp also recognized the influence of the stop-motion photography of Étienne-Jules Marey, particularly Muybridge's Woman Walking Downstairs from his 1887 picture series, published as The Human Figure in Motion.[1]
Duchamp first submitted the work to appear in a Cubist show at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, but jurist Albert Gleizes asked Duchamp's brothers, Jacques Villon and Raymond Duchamp-Villon, to have him voluntarily withdraw the painting, or paint over the title that he had painted on the work and rename it something else. The hanging committee objected to the work on the grounds that it had "too much of a literary title", and that "a nude never descends the stairs—a nude reclines".[2]
Of the incident Duchamp recalled,
I said nothing to my brothers. But I went immediately to the show and took my painting home in a taxi. It was really a turning point in my life, I can assure you. I saw that I would not be very much interested in groups after that.[3]
He submitted the painting to the 1913 Armory Show in New York City located where Americans, accustomed to naturalistic art, were scandalized. Julian Street, an art critic for the New York Times wrote that the work resembled "an explosion in a shingle factory," and cartoonists satirized the piece. It spawned dozens of parodies in the years that followed.[4]
After attending the Armory Show and seeing Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote (using his own, also valid translation): "Take the picture which for some reason is called 'A Naked Man Going Down Stairs'. There is in my bathroom a really good Navajo rug which, on any proper interpretation of the Cubist theory, is a far more satisfactory and decorative picture. Now, if, for some inscrutable reason, it suited somebody to call this rug a picture of, say, 'A Well-Dressed Man Going Up a Ladder', the name would fit the facts just about as well as in the case of the Cubist picture of the 'Naked Man Going Down Stairs'. From the standpoint of terminology each name would have whatever merit inheres in a rather cheap straining after effect; and from the standpoint of decorative value, of sincerity, and of artistic merit, the Navajo rug is infinitely ahead of the picture." [5]

Found Here:,_No._2

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Ephesian Artemis

The Ephesian Artemis, the "great mother goddess" also mentioned in the New Testament(Acts,19), was extremely popular in the ancient world, as we might deduce from the fact that copies of her cult statue have been excavated in many parts of the Roman Empire. The first photo on this page is a statue from the Amphitheater of Lepcis Magna and is now in the Archaeological Museum of Tripoli.The goddess was originally, before her cult was taken over by the Greeks, called Artimus, and her temple -one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World- received gifts from the Lydian king Croesus (c.560-c.547). She is related to other Anatolian mother goddesses, like Cybele. The Ephesians believed that Artemis was born in Ephesus (and not on Delos, as was commonly assumed), and accepted the shrine as an asylum (Tacitus, Annals,3.61). Later, the Persians patronized the cult; the high priest was called theMegabyxus, a Persian name that means "the one set free for the cult of the divinity". The original cult statue was made of wood, but was probably lost after the great fire of 356 BCE.Although the statue as we know it was a substitute for the lost original, it retains several archaic traits (e.g., her static pose). Still, many aspects can not be dated before the fourth century, and the statue from Lepcis illustrates this very well: it shows a zodiac on the dress that covers the upper part of her chest. On some copies, Artemis wears a mural crown, a Mesopotamian and Syrian motif that became popular in the Hellenistic age. The winged Victories to the left and right appear to be innovations as well, although they have archaic antecedents.On other copies, these elements are absent (e.g., instead of the Victories, we see lions), and they may be closer representations of the original. However, the fact that a statue with zodiac had been found in Ephesus (photo), strongly suggests that the astrological aspect was not altogether absent from the Ephesian cult.One of Artemis' characteristics is that she protects fertility. This may be symbolized by the spherical objects that cover the lower part of her chest, but the common assumption that they are female breasts is incorrect. They probably represent the testicles of a bull, although they may also be gourds, which were known in Asia as fertility symbols for centuries. Artemis' robe is always decorated with lions, leopards, goats, griffins, and bulls, which represent Artemis' title of Lady of the Animals.

Found Here:

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Maijishan Grottoes (simplified Chinese麦积山石窟traditional Chinese麥積山石窟pinyinMàijīshān Shíkū) are a series of 194 caves cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in TianshuiGansu Province, northwestChina. This example of rock cut architecture contains over 7,200 Buddhist sculptures and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Construction began in the Later Qin era (384-417 CE).
They were first properly explored in 1952-53 by a team of Chinese archeologists from Beijing, who devised the numbering system still in use today. Caves #1-50 are on the western cliff face; caves #51-191 on the eastern cliff face. They were later photographed by Michael Sullivan and Dominique Darbois, who subsequently published the primary English-language work on the caves noted in the footnotes below.
The name Maijishan consists of three Chinese words (麦积山) that literally translate as "Wheatstack Mountain", but because the term "mai" () is the generic term in Chinese used for most grains, one also sees such translations as "Corn rick mountain". Mai means "grain". Ji () means "stack" or "mound". Shan () means "mountain". The mountain is formed of purplish red sandstone.
They are just one of the string of Buddhist grottoes that can be found in this area of northwest China, lying more or less on the main routes connecting China and Central Asia.
Maijishan has an especially interesting location as it is located close to the E-W route that connected Xi'an with Lanzhou and eventually Dunhuang, as well as the route that veers off to the south that connected (and still connects) Xi'an with Chengdu in Sichuan and regions as far south as India. This crossroads location is interesting as several of the sculptures in Maijishan that appear around the 6th Century, appear to have Indian—and even SE Asian—features that could have come north via these N-S routes. The earliest artistic influence came, however, from the northwest, through Central Asia along the Silk Road. Later, during the Sung and Ming Dynasties, as the caves were renovated and repaired, the influences came from central and eastern China and the sculpture is more distinctly Chinese.
Cave shrines in China probably served two purposes: originally, before Buddhism came to China, they may have been used as local shrines to worship one's ancestors or various nature deities.[1] With the coming of Buddhism to China, however, influenced by the long tradition of cave shrines from India (such as Ajanta) and Central Asia (primarily Afghanistan), they became part of China's religious architecture.
Buddhism in this part of China spread through the support of the Northern Liang (北凉), which was the last of the "16 Kingdoms" that existed from 304-439 CE—a collection of numerous short-lived sovereign states in China. The Northern Liang were Xiongnu, "barbarians". It was during their rule that cave shrines first appeared in Gansu Province, the two most famous sites being Tiandishan ("Celestial Ladder Mountain") south of their capital at Yongcheng, and Wenshushan ("Manjusri's Mountain" ), halfway between Yongcheng and Dunhuang. Maijishan was most likely started during this wave of religious enthusiasm.
Sometime between 420 and 422 CE, a monk by the name of Tanhung arrived at Maijishan and proceeded to build a small monastic community. One of the legends is that he had previously been living in Chang'an but had fled to Maijishan when the city was invaded by the Sung army. Within a few years he was joined by another senior monk, Xuangao, who brought 100 followers to the mountain. Both are recorded in a book entitled Memoirs of Eminent Monks; eventually their community grew to 300 members. Xuangao later moved to the court of the local king where he remained until its conquest by the Northern Wei, when he, together with all the other inhabitants of the court, were forced to migrate and settle in the Wei capital. He died in 444 during a period of Buddhist persecution. Tanhung also left Maijishan during this period and travelled south, to somewhere in Cochin China, when in approximately 455, he burned himself to death.[2]
How the original community was organized or looked, we don't know. "Nor is there any evidence to show whether the settlement they founded was destroyed and its members scattered in the suppression of 444 and the ensuring years, or whether it was saved by its remoteness to become a heaven of refuse, as was to happen on several later occasions in the history of Maijishan".[3]
The Wei Dynasty was good to Maijishan and the grottoes existence close to the Wei capital city of Loyang and the main road west brought the site recognition and, most likely, support. The earliest dated inscription is from 502, and records the excavation of what is now identified as Cave 115. Other inscriptions record the continued expansion of the grottoes, as works were dedicated by those with the financial means to do so.
These Wei caves are fairly simple and most follow the pattern of a seated Buddha flanked by bodhisattvas and other attendants, sometimes by monks or lay worshippers. The most common Buddha is Amitābha, the principal Buddha of the Pure Land sect. Amitābha enables all who call upon him to be reborn into his heaven, the "Pure Land". There they undergo instruction by him ultimately to become bodhisattvas and buddhas in their own right. This was a very popular school of Mahayana Buddhism during this period.
The bodhisattvas who accompany him are usually Avalokitesvara on the Buddha's right, and Mahasthamaprapta on his left. Avalokitesvara can be identified by his headdress which holds a small image of the Buddha Amitābha, and the fact that he often carries a small water flask. Sometimes he holds a heart-shaped, or pippala-leaf shaped object (which art historians still can't positively identify). Mahasthamaprapta is slightly more difficult to identify, but this is the usual pairing with Avalokitesvara (who will, in a few hundred more years, change gender and morph into the Goddess or Bodhisattva of Mercy, Guanyin).
The monks are usually the two most famous associated with the historical Buddha: the younger Ananda, and the older Kasyapa, although sometimes the monks are simply generic monks. We also find statuary of nuns and lay worshippers and donors.
Standing near the doorways guarding the Buddha and his entourage are often pairs of dvarapala or the four Heavenly Kings (lokapala).
There are also statues of the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, and the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya, recognizable by his seated position, legs crossed at the ankle. Some of the statues of the historical Buddha show Gandharan influences from Central Asia. The clue is in the volume and drapery of the robes as well as the shape and proportions of the statue's body and head.
Nearly all of the statuary at Maijishan is made of clay with the addition of some sort of binding agent to help preserve the sculpture. When stone sculptures appear (for example, in caves 117, 127, 133 and 135), they are generally made of sandstone, and many are exquisite. The sandstone is reported not to be indigenous and we don't know its origin, where the statues were made, or how they were hauled up into the caves. Of special note is Cave 133 with 23 stone stele.

The Tang was also an era of noteworthy earthquakes, including a very severe one in the region in 734. The Tang poet Tu Fu visited the site 25 years later, and wrote a poem entitled "Mountain Temples" that probably is a description of Maijishan. It translates:
There are few monks left in these remote shrines,
And in the wilderness the narrow paths are high.
The musk-deer sleep among the stones and bamboo,
The cockatoos peck at the golden peaches.
Streams trickle down among the paths;
Across the overhanging cliff the cells are ranged,
Their tiered chambers reaching to the very peak;
And for a 100 li one can make out the smallest thing.[4]
The Sung Dynasty brought major restoration initiatives to Maijishan so that much of what visitors see today are older grottoes with new or replaced Sung-period sculpture. The most notable change in this period is the shift in emphasis from the Buddha to the bodhisattvas "shown most dramatically in Cave 191 on the extreme western [cliff] face....
"The middle Ming was a period of revival and restoration [remember this is prime earthquake zone]—the last to make any significant mark on Maijishan before the present century."[5] It was also during this period that the two huge triads of statues on the eastern and western faces of the cliff were repaired—on the southeast cliff face, a seated Maitreya with legs pendant, flanked by two standing bodhisattvas; and on the southwest cliff face, an incomplete triad of a tall standing Buddha flanked by two attendants.
In summary, construction and restoration extended over 12 dynasties at Maijishan: over the course of the Later Qin, Northern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, Period of the Five Dynasties, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing.
Although the region has fallen victim to many earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters, 194 caves remain, encompassing 7200 pieces of sculpture, and 1000 square meters of frescoes, all excavated on a cliff face 30 to 80 meters above ground.
Caves #1-50 are on the western cliff face; caves #51-191 on the eastern cliff face. These numbers were given the caves by the original 1952-53 Chinese archaeological team.

The Maijishan Grottoes
Located Southeast of Tianshyui City in Gansu Province on a 142 meters high hill named Maijishan, meaning "Wheat-pile Hill". Work on the grottoes started in the late 4th century and continued through successive North Wei (386-534 A.D.) and Song (960-1279 A.D.) dynasties until the 19th century. There are 194 existing caves, in which are preserved more than 7,000 sculptures made of terra cotta and over 1,000 square meters of murals. Earthquakes, rain and fire have damaged a large part of the caves and wooden structures.
This photo is from a 2001 book published by the Asian Society called Monks & Merchants, Silk Roads Treasures from Northwest China, which has been accompanied by a traveling world exhibit. 
For more information go to:
More than 120 artifacts from the regions where the Silk Road wound through Chinese territory were on view at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla. March/April 2002.

This distinctive portrait of Buddha's oldest disciple, marked here as a foreigner - an Indian - by the beaklike nose, is found in Cave 87 at Maijishan. The King who built the temple on top of the giant rock atSigiriya was also called Kasyapa:
"In pre-Vedic times, Kasyapa was a primordial god. He was the father of the devas, the asuras, the nagas, and mankind. His name means tortoise, and he was connected to the cosmic tortoise which made up the universe. In Vedic times Kasyapa had Aditi as his consort, and he was the father of the Adityas. In later times he became equated with Prajapati and Brahma, and was also named as one of the rishis."
Are there deeper connections between Maijishan and Sigiriya besides the obvious giant rock architecture?
(I'm researching this... Come back to this page for  more on this question later. Remy C.)

Found Here:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

COMIC STRIP TOUR - Brussels Murals 2009

Brussels has a long tradition of murals. For the 2009 comic strips theme, the City of Brussels will again add to its comic strip tour, with two or three murals.
One of these murals will be devoted to Rabaté for the album ‘Les petits ruisseaux’ (small streams), which won the latest City of Brussels prize. This prize is awarded annually to an author and an original work that opens up new perspectives for comic strips (in terms of graphics, stories or story-telling technique). Artists from abroad are also invited to Brussels for this, to participate in the city’s beautification and to make it more attractive.

The City of Brussels started producing its own comic strip murals in 1993. They have been included in a tour that stretches across the city. Now very popular with tourists, the tour includes 31 walls in the central Pentagon area and four walls in Laeken. People following it can therefore take a nice stroll and discover Brussels in a different manner. This tour is today an integral part of the city’s heritage. It is something we would like to spotlight during the comic strips theme year, by ensuring the murals are known and recognised by everyone and by turning them into some of the most popular tourist attractions of our capital – the home of comic strips! Besides the murals, some streets in Brussels will be given two plaques, one of which is fictional. This will be an amusing reference to Belgian comic strips.
These ‘comic strip’ streets make up a second comic strip tour across the city, as the guiding thread for a nice walk.

The Brussels' Comic Book Route (or also The comic strip route in Brussels) is a path composed by several comic strip murals which deck the walls of several buildings throughout the inner city of Brussels as well as the neighborhoods of Laeken and Auderghem. The large comic strip murals show motifs of the main characters of the most famous and popular Belgian comic artist, for instance Lucky LukeTintinGastonMarsupilami or Gil Jourdan.
The project began in 1991 by initiative of the local authorities of the city of Brussels in collaboration with the Belgian Comic Strip Center. At its beginning, the project was just aimed to mask or embellish empty walls and gables of the buildings of the city, but it became also an opportunity to remember to its citizens and tourists that many well-known comic artists around the world were born or linked to the Belgium's capital, which at the same time claims to be also the capital of the comic strip.[1][2]
Today, the Brussels' Comic Book Route offers more than 50 mural paintings, most of them located inside the Pentagon (as the city center is often called due to its geometrical shape). Following its trail, the Comic Book Route is a good way to discover the capital and even penetrate some neighborhoods less crowded by tourists. The Brussels tourist association Pro Velo organizes a 2 hours bike tour starting at the Bicycle Riders House (Maison des cyclists).
Broussaille was the first comic book wall to be painted,[3] based on an original project of the Belgian comic book artist Frank Pé. With its surface of about 35 m2, the mural painting was inaugurated in July 1991 at the intersection between the central streets Marché au Charbon and Teinturiers. As most of the mural paintings, the Belgian association «Art Mural» was in charge for the execution of the fresco painting.
«Art Mural» is an association created by five artists in 1984, mainly aimed to realize mural painting in public areas. Since 1993 it has been devoted to the creation and realization of the fresco paintings belonging to the Brussels' Comic Book Route, with a rhythm of 2 to 3 works per year.[4] Georgios Oreopoulos and David Vandegeerde are the only two remaining founder members of the association who have been always involved in all the projects and mural paintings, helped with a large number of other artists who have collaborated and worked together with them.

Brussels has undergone many architectural face-lifts and artistic design. None are quite like the cartoon characters that adorn the sides of buildings throughout Brussels. The brainstorm of someone with a bit of sense of humor and taste for the playful came up with the brilliant idea of transforming dull and grey buildings into eye-catching works of artistic expression. Local residences are being treated to the brightly colored displays across the city. Much to their delight the murals are said to being smiles to all who catch glimpse of them
As you make your way through the city to streets such as 33 rue de la Buanderie you will find a cartoon mural featuring The Adventures of Asterix. This particular mural is located on the wall a public soccer and basketball playground. Artists Albert Uderzo who provided the text and René Goscinny who created the illustrations have together created a masterpiece of sorts. The Stockel Metro Station is another location featuring the cartoons character The Adventures of Tintin Mural. It is considered to be the most grand of all the murals in the city of Brussels.
This beautifully illustrated mural is featured on duel sides of 135 meters of underground station wall. Considered one of the most renowned as it was drawn by the late Hergé prior to his death in 1983. The actual completion of the mural was not until five year later. In 1988, Studio Hergé and Bob de Moor successfully completed the task in honor of the Stockel train station's grand opening.
The Lucky Luke Comic Strip is one of the most beloved comic strips in Europe. As a local featured favorite in the city of Brussels, the mural stands at 180 meters of magnificent stature. Lucky Luke Comic Strip mural beheld as a most wondrous mural was painted by D. Vandegeerde and G. Oreopoulos in 1992. While the happiest mural in the city could be disputable, there is no mistaking the humor provided by the mural known as the "Happy Metro to You."
Created in 1974, artist Marc Mendelson hoped the mural would bring a more humorous side to the daily commute of onlookers making their way through the Park Metro Station. Stroll along the streets in Brussels and you can observe this fun and exciting way to liven up the dullness of old Brussels city walls. Five more vibrant and energizing murals have been commissioned for this year with another 10 expected by 2010.