This book was hand-picked for review, from The Hermit Poet’s Art Book Collection.
The art found attached to the history and teachings of Buddhism have tremendous variety and scale. The massive statues depicting Buddha are found made of wood, metal and stone, on top of mounts or inside a building complex, gilded in gold or covered by wax, in diverse positions and facial expressions. Buddhist paintings are found on walls and cotton throughout history. Architectural structures pave Asia’s landscape with ancient treasures.
Huge religious monuments is a norm for me, as I was born in a city (Rio de Janeiro) watched by a 30 meter statue of Jesus Christ on top of a mountain. The many large scale statues depicting Buddha and other deities of Buddhism I found throughout Asia have always had an emotional and spiritual impact on me, regardless of its historical or philosophical value. There is energy around these precious art objects/monuments that transcend the religious boundaries.
Architecturally, many Buddhist temples are a work of art and can provide a overall experience like no other:
in Central Java, walking up at the steps of Borobudur Temple will give one a sense of the magnitude around this unparalleled complex.
During a silent early morning fog, Old Bagan in Burma, provides passage to ancient times.
Wat Pho, Thailand is one of the most popular Buddhist Temples, housing a 46 meter long statue of a gold Reclining Buddha.
Tōdai-ji, Nara, Japan and its colossal guardian wood statues dating back from 1203 (page 372/58 &59) make an artist want to sit down and sketch these monstrous figures.
Buddha itself is depicted in many ways: The Thai Buddha is slim and elegant while Buddha protected by Naga (page 149/11) has broad shoulders, breasts and a large stomach. Probably one of the most common depictions is the Chinese Lucky Buddha, fat, short & happy.
My favorite images:
Page 185/26: This 19th century photograph depicts a horizontal line of men on elephants holding umbrellas. In the background, is a statue of Buddha framed into a opening of a ruin (wall/building façade) in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Simply fantastic!
Page 217/33: Unusual image of Siddhartha depicted as a malnourished old man, literally skin and bones, deep eyes and abdomen, veins and ribs protruding from the upper torso, tremendous detailed work of art.
About the book:
Buddhist Art | An Historical and Cultural Journey by Gilles Beguin is a fantastic documentation of the Buddhist art scattered all over Asia. The book is engaging, interesting, informative, and highly illustrated. Its 400 pages will light up your senses and immerse you into the beauty and diversity of Buddhist art, regardless of your religious belief.
Available on Amazon below