Wednesday, September 14, 2011

History's Oldest Media: ART

I am an artist, so naturally I believe that art was was the first medium humankind used to communicate. Here I have ten examples of how early societies used art to convey a message, story, or idea to the masses.

1. African Rock Painting: Bamboo Mountain, South Africa. 6000 BCE. Told the story of hunting rituals.

2. Ashoka's Columns: India, 250 BCE. King Ashoka formulated a legal code based on Buddha's teachings that he inscribed on columns, which he then placed all over his kingdom. 

3. The Life and Death of Buddha: Gandhara, Pakistan. 2nd Century CE. One of the earliest pictorial narratives that tells Buddha's life story.

4. Auspicious Cranes: China, 1112 CE.
    This hand scroll is a form a early propaganda. The emperor Huizong who commissioned this scroll used it to convince his people his reign was blessed by the gods. The Cranes, which were thought to be lucky, are painted circling around the emperor's palace. In China at the time war and upheaval was just around the corner, and Huizong needed a way to pacify his people and get their confidence. Because most of the population of China was illiterate, art and symbolism was an effective tool in creating a message that could be spread far and wide.

Video Clip Going More in Depth of the Origins of the Auspicious Cranes Painting

5. Night Attack on Sanjo Palace: Japan, 13th Century CE. Scroll telling a historical narrative.

6. Mihrab from the Madrasa Imami: Iran, 1354. 

        In Islamic tradition, their writing or alphabet is often written as calligraphy. Calligraphy, or "beautiful writing", is itself considered a high art form and decorates some of the Islam's most sacred places. Paper and books, including the Koran, were unaffordable by majority of the Islamic population so artists created a lasting way to share Islamic prose by placing it within tiled masterpieces. Here I have an example of how important Islamic verses have withstood time in the form of tiled mosaics. The border of the mosaic are filled with ancient Islamic calligraphy.

7. Mictlantecuhtli and Quetzalcoatl Codex: Mexico 1400 CE

     When Spainish armadas came over and conquered South America, they were suprised to find that societies like the Mixteca created their own form of books which came to be known as codexes. A codex usually contained paintings or drawnings depicting their myths and legends. The codexes were extensively illustrated and symbolism created a narrative. Here I have an example of a  page within a codex that depicts the Mixteca gods Mictlantecuhtli (god of death) and Quetzalcoatl (god of death) sitting back to back representing the relationship with life a death.

Video about Codexes!

8. Haida Totem Poles: Vancouver, Canada. 18th Century. These massive wood sculptures told the story of the local clan or tribe. They held significant symbolism to the Native Americans along the Northwest coast.

9. Kiva Mural: New Mexico, 15th century. This type of mural is called a kiva, and was used to tell ancient Puebloan spiritual stories.

10. Wepiha Meeting Houses: New Zealand, 15th Century. These meeting houses were designed with ancestors and gods carved on beams within the building. The carvings each told a story of warining or a moral story.

Source: Gardner's Art Through the Ages: Non-Western Art 2010

1 comment:

  1. Love your work. I do stained glass. would like to collaborate sometime this year.