Traditional Art – Buddhist Thangka

 

Very likely one of the oldest Buddist symbols, the Wheel of Life is a popular theme in traditional Tibetan Buddhist art and it is known as the Thangka. Historically this highly skilled art form is commissioned for both spiritual and mundane matters, such as aiding the sick,  or to gain merit during commemoration of religious events.

At one time, Buddhist monks used to draw beautiful and complex mandalas on the ground, using colored sand. Once the Mandala was completed, it was removed as conclusion of the ritual, a strong symbol of the impermanence of reality.

 

patan Temple Katmandu

 

 

 

 

One of our treasured artistic possessions from a trip to Bhaktapur, in Nepal, is a Tibetan Buddhist Thankgka painted on silk, pictured below.

 

Buudhist art Apologies for the reflection on the image.

 

Thangkas are painted by the monks themselves, and the art form demands great mastery over drawing, as well as a high understanding of the geometric and iconographic principles within this style of traditional art.

Lamas and pilgrims would carry them in ceremonial processions and Thangkas were hung in monasteries as a way to display Buddhist teachings, in pictorial form.

Certain pictorial elements are outlined in 24 carat gold and are still considered an important method for studying and preserving the religion, history, culture and traditions of the Himalyan countries of Tibet, India and Nepal.

Here you can see the painstaking and long hours needed to produce this work of art:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YyptY72-rk]

What do the Symbols Mean?

This art form is highly formalized typically seen as four or five concentric rings, or their symbolic equivalents, depicting the realms of existence associated with the journey towards enlightenment.

 

  • In the central ring, you will often find the intertwined images of a pig, a rooster, and a snake which symbolically depict the three “kleshas,” (mental states affecting actions), being ignorance, greed and aggression, called Samsara. These three states characterize the world of suffering and dissatisfaction.The snake and bird can be seen coming out of the mouth of the pig, indicating that anger and attachment arise from ignorance. At the same time the snake and the bird grasp the tail of the pig, indicating that they both promote even greater ignorance.

 

  • Half of the second ring depicts light, showing contented people moving upwards to higher states, possibly to the higher realms whilst the remaining half-circle, (usually dark), shows people in a miserable state being led downwards to lower states, or realms. These images represent karma, the law of cause and effect. The light half-circle indicates people experiencing the results of positive actions, the dark indicating negative action.

Propelled by their karma, beings take rebirth in the six realms of Samsara, as shown in the next ring.

 

  • The outer rim of the wheel is often divided into twelve section.  Whilst the three inner layers display the three poisons that lead to karma, and the suffering of the six realms, the twelve links in the outer rim show how this can happen. This is reference to cause and effect, or karma, over several lifetimes, demonstrating our current life and how our past lives and our present action influence us and our future.
  • The outer area contains decorative floral motifs and mythical animals, which were elements introduced into Buddhist painting in the mid – twentieth century by Newar artists of the Kathmandu valley.

 

 

  • Surrounding the wheel is either Mara, the fearsome demon who tempted Buddha, or Lord ‘Yama’, the Lord of Death, with his tiger skin hanging beneath the wheel, (indicating fearsome- ness), and it is he, who holds the wheel of life in his hands. Regardless of which figure is depicted, it represents impermanence and the transient nature of existence; everything within this wheel is constantly changing. The four limbs, (that clutch the wheel) symbolize the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death.

By contemplating on the twelve sections of the outer ring, one gains greater insight into karma and this insight enables us to begin to unravel our habitual way of thinking and reacting.

  • The twelve outer sections, paired with their corresponding symbols, are:

lack of knowledgea blind person, often walking, or a person peering out

constructive volitional activitya potter shaping a vessel or vessels

consciousnessa man or a monkey grasping a fruit

name and form (constituent elements of mental and physical existence) – two men afloat in a boat

six senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind) – a dwelling with six windows

contactlovers consorting, kissing, or entwined

painan arrow to the eye

thirsta drinker receiving drink

graspinga man or a monkey picking fruit

coming to bea couple engaged in intercourse, a standing, leaping, or reflective person***

being bornwoman giving birth

old age and deathcorpse being carried

*** The images of the couple lying together in a sexual union, we were told, was never intended to be pornographic, but rather to excite and increase the potency of fertility, especially for males! Devotees consider all creation begins with the sacred union of male and female energies. To experience the pure creative passion between man and woman they believe; to know unconditional love, is to manifest the body, mind, and spirit of a Buddha.

Something traditional to Ponder About

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Monday Mystery Photo – Last time Sicily

Every second Monday, I post a photo of a ‘mystery’ location, and sometimes a mystery object.  I invite you to leave a comment if you think you know the location, or what the mystery object might be.

If you guess correctly, I will link back to your blog in the follow-up post, when the answer is revealed. Comments will be released on alternate Monday (Australian E.S.T.), so as not to spoil the fun for late-comers.

If you have a travel photo you would like featured on Monday Mystery, please leave a comment  below, or contact me by email, [find this at my Gravatar and Profile info].

 

The mystery photo this time comes from Lorelle from A Mindful Traveler.com. 

 

Lorelle 3

Where might this structure be located?

 


Previous Monday Mystery Photo

 

Lorelle2

 

The mystery photo last time was also kindly submitted by Lorelle from A Mindful Traveler.com.  Thank you, Lorelle, for your fantastic contribution!

The temple was not located in Greece, as some may have thought, but in Agrigento, on the South coast of Sicily, Italy and is known as the Temple of Concordia.

Apart from the Parthenon, it is the best preserved Doric temple in the world.

Mel and Suan from https://travelingmatters.net/ were not fooled and guessed the location correctly! Well done!

 

Monday Mystery

 

Best of luck to everyone with guessing the location of this week’s photograph.

 

 

 

Monday Mystery Photo – Last time Utah, USA

Every second Monday, I post a photo of a ‘mystery’ location, and sometimes a mystery object.  I invite you to leave a comment if you think you know the location, or what the mystery object might be.

If you guess correctly, I will link back to your blog in the follow-up post, when the answer is revealed. Comments will be released on alternate Monday (Australian E.S.T.), so as not to spoil the fun for late-comers.

If you have a travel photo you would like featured on Monday Mystery, please leave a comment  below, or contact me by email, [find this at my Gravatar and Profile info].

Where might this incredible structure be located? Don’t be fooled!!

Lorelle2
This week’s Mystery Photograph

 

Last time, the Mystery Photo was submitted by Yinglan, who blogs at Another Story.

Thank you Yinglan for the photo. You set a great challenge for some of regular readers.

Here is last week’s photo from Yinglan:

DSC08494

Did you guess correctly?

I received a range of guesses including Dee, who proposed the location as Turkey, and Mosy who suggested Canada, but it was in fact,  Leggy Peggy and The Mindful Traveller Lorelle, who guessed the location correctly as USA. The strange rock formations are found in Bryce canyon National Park, in Utah. The area is also known for crimson-colored hoodoos, which are spire-shaped rock formations.

Best of luck with guessing the location of this week’s photograph.

Monday Mystery

MMP – Something to Ponder About

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Amanda

 

 

Monday Mystery Photo – Last time Barcelona

Every second Monday, I post a photo of a ‘mystery’ location, and sometimes a mystery object. 

I invite you to leave a comment if you think you know the location, or what the mystery object might be.

The Mystery photo this week comes from Ineke from the blog Iscrap2. 

 

Ineke 1

Many thanks to Ineke for the use of her photo, which is also the feature logo for our joint Poetry Challenge which you are welcome to join and can read about here.

Ineke and I are jointly hosting the challenge from March until August on our respective blogs. We would love for you to join in.

Can you guess the location?

If you do guess correctly, I will link back to your blog in the follow up post, when the answer is revealed.

 

Comments will be released in the intervening Monday (Australian E.S.T.), so as not to spoil the fun for latecomers. If you have a travel photo, you would like featured on Monday Mystery, please leave a comment or contact me on my email which you will find on the Contact page. You can find my email by hovering over my Gravatar and viewing my Profile information.

 

Previous Monday Mystery Photo

 

Lorelle1

The photograph from the previous Monday Mystery Post, which you’ll find here, comes from Lorelle of the blog,  A Mindful Traveller.

Lorelle tells me it is in Parke Guell, in Barcelona, Spain. It is one of Antoni Gaudi’s famous works. Did you guess correctly?

These bloggers did. Well done, people.

ledrakenoir.wordpress.com/

leggypeggy.com/

chiefwritingwolf.com/

thesnowmeltssomewhere.wordpress.com/

 

Something to Ponder About

 

 

Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom

Proverbs and sayings provide us wise words from all corners of the world whose subtext is a moral lesson or statement. 

Best savoured a little at a time, these sayings are often handed down from generation to generation.

Each Friday, I post a saying, or proverb and a quote that I find thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 

An American Indian Proverb this week that seems self-explanatory: –

 

 

 

Every accomplishment begins with the decision to TRY. Therefore, must we also, at this point, decide to be brave?

Or does the desire to be thought of as brave come later?

 

 

P1050912

 

There is little need for me to introduce the author of the quote, for this week. Perhaps you did not know that Ernest Hemingway talked about the FBI spying on him later in life. He was treated with electroshock.

It was later revealed that Hemingway was in fact watched, and Edgar Hoover had him placed under surveillance. Perhaps, in light of this, the following Hemingway quote is particularly apt.

 

 

Ron Mueck
Ron Mueck Figures

When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

– Ernest Hemingway

 

What do you make of the quotes?

Do you find many people don’t listen fully to what is said?

What factors influence whether they listen or not?

 

Some Wisdom to Ponder About this Friday*Blog

Now posting on Fridays*