The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Monday, March 06, 2006

Characters: The Buddha

As you might have noticed I've been kinda low on the posting recently. Well, I've figured I'd have a new series to have summat to say. Today's character the Buddha, or prince Gautama. Yes, I know what you're thinking: "What could a religion that's too much of a pussy to kill people in its name have to offer me?" And you're probably right. Which is probably why there has yet to be a major Buddhist empire and is the reason for the Tibetans getting sinicized even as we speak.

Nonetheless, artistically the religion is nothing short of fancy with Gautama (and other Buddhas, individuals who have achieved Enlightenment) being personified in many different forms in statues always heavily altered by local culture. Unlike the monotheistic religions or Hinduism, Buddhism is so un-dogmatic that it's allowed very personalized buddhas. Some of the earliest Buddha statues were made by Greeks (of all people) who on their killing rampage across Persia and northern India had picked up some culture along the way.

Standing Buddha in classical style.

Many places have a thing for massive buddhas. Recall the statues the Taliban blew up, but there's plenty of others.

Chinese Buddha. Not very esthetic.

A somewhat more famour rendition Sino-Japanese style. The sheer weight and mass of serenity is unshakeable?

We're all familiar with the usual laughing Buddha (who was in fact the original Gautama Buddha but a Chinese monk who claimed to have become a Buddha) but there's in fact been quite a few styles not usually seen in the West. These happen to be some of my favourites.

Evil laughing Buddha. Somewhat reminiscent of Nurgle.

Buddha, before reaching Enlightenment, attempted severe asceticism (physical and sensual deprivation). Some statues portray him in that state, and call me morbid, but they've got a nice complementary character which I like.

Hollow-eyed ascetic Buddha. Perhaps I like because I know my eyes will be that hollow one day? :-P

Some post-modern stuff:

Yes, everyone's favourite ex-first-black-president-to-be used to be a bit of demi-god in the 90s when he had just published his autobiography and people were thinking up offices for him to fill.

Here's prolly my favourite of all.

A sitting classical, probably Greek, Buddha. I see a quiet virile serenity that's difficult to match. Indeed you don't usually have those words together. And the missing arm just makes it better, surreal. (much like the winged victory statue)

And now, the man's latest incarnation:

Because babies are far too cute to leave out!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

quite interesting, so how does this relate to Kaliningrad?

1:08 PM  
Blogger mittiwat said...

The laughing statue is actually the statue of Katyayana, not Buddha.

2:55 AM  

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