Hellenism On The Silk Road Essay Research

9 September 2017

Hellenism On The Silk Road Essay, Research Paper

Hellenism on the Silk Road

Along the Silk Road, merchandisers traded desirable wares from all over Asia and the Mediterranean. Gold, porcelain, spices, jewellery, fabrics, and about anything else stuff that any civilisation along this huge web of trade paths could make. Along with stuff concerns, nevertheless, came the much more permanent and challenging consequence of cultural exchange ; faiths, thoughts, nutrient, architectural developments, doctrine, and art all moved along the paths with these travellers from town to town. Some finally spread all the manner from the Greco-Roman universe to China and Japan.

Alexander the Great was one of the foremost innovators into the Middle Eastern universe. Traversing every bit far as modern Uzbekistan, Alexander brought with him to every part Greek craftsmen, soldiers, and faith. One of the most profound and permanent impacts made by Alexander s raids into Asia was presenting the Grecian tradition of sculpture, much admired by the Romans in the West, into the country known as Transoxiana, now Gandhara in North India.

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Much of early Gandharan Buddhist art bears witness to this transportation of aesthetic political orientation. In a work late acquired by the Freer Gallery of Art, a Head of a Buddha, one can see the Hellenistic tradition rather clearly. There are strong illustrations of pragmatism in this Buddha caput comparatively alone to Greek art. The text of Jerry Bentley s Old World Encounters contends that Hellenistic tradition had a great impact on Buddhist art chiefly due to the fact that earlier Buddhists thought it incorrect to portray the Buddha as corporeal, but instead he should be shown by symbols. Their first influences to make figurative images of the Buddha came from the Hellenistic encroachers and their devotional patterns. The hair of the Buddha is realistic, non the conventionalized snail coil seen in many statues of the Buddha. Each tendril of the hair is carefully chiseled out and moves gently over his caput and ushnisha. The zygomatic bones are high and the mentum is strong. His full lips are gently rested together, and his eyes look down, the palpebras half closed. The pigment staying on the eyes have them looking straight out and downcast. Little hints of gilded foliage cleaving to this caput, which one time was covered in gold ( now merely the brown land is seeable ) . The ushnisha and extended ear lobes are traditional parts of the iconography of the Buddha. In this statue, the ears are non exaggerated in length, but instead really natural in visual aspect. Except for the gold leaf the statue bears no decoration, besides typical of the Buddha. The last component that betrays the statue as that of a Buddha is the conventionalized urna, shown sometimes as a actual 3rd oculus, and sometimes as a coil of hair between his foreheads. It is in this instance a simple point, about like a bindi, a much more natural looking look of the urna.

Another piece from along the Silk Road is a home base from Iran. The home base is made of Ag with a scene executed in repouss in the centre. The level parts of the scene are gilt. The scene represents the Greek God Dionysus triumphant reaching in India. Interestingly, this may besides associate back to Alexander, who is said to hold followed Dionysus path into Asia on his conquerings. Like Dionysus, Alexander got barely farther than India. In the centre of the scene sits Dionysus, slackly draped in paces of cloth and keeping a bowl of grapes. He is the largest and most cardinal figure of the composing. Following to him sits Ariadne as a goddess. Harmonizing to mythology, she was the married woman of Dionysus. To her left stands the hero Heracles keeping his king of beasts tegument. To Dionysus right are two figures go outing the room, perchance two Maenads, his followings and changeless comrades. Below the platform Dionysus and Ariadne occupy, two little apsara kneel keeping a wheel with 8 points inside it. Below them is a figure of a king of beasts and an amphora flanked by two more apsara. All around the top registry

of the home base is a pipeline twined with Hedera helix, perchance a mention to the span Dionysus used to traverse the Ganges into India, said to be made of twined pipeline and Hedera helix.

A concluding piece demoing western influence is a Chinese Chimera. The Chimera is a fabulous figure with Western beginnings. In Asia Minor, the Chimera was a half king of beasts, half unicorn. In Rome, the Chimera was portion wolf, portion snake, portion king of beasts. In China, it appears to be a half king of beasts half firedrake. In all civilizations, the Chimera is a dour apotropaic figure supposed to turn away evil and protect good. The Chimera s visual aspect on both terminals of the Silk Road merely reinforces the impression of cultural exchange that the Silk Road provided. The Chimera represented both fright and protection, good and evil, dark and light, all elements of yin and yang. This peculiar Chimera has the pess and organic structure of a king of beasts, instead knee bend with the typical pug face seen on so many Chinese king of beastss. Its face has the goatee and wing-like ears normally seen on word pictures of firedrakes. Additionally, it has long curved wings attached to its shoulder blade, a common property of firedrakes. Along its dorsum are lines and circles in a regular form, perchance an abstraction of the Chinese composing system. This may propose that the animal is cardinal and fierce, the form literally intending nil, but that it is more than it seems ; that is, that the Chimera may non be cognizant of its topographic point yet represents something powerful. If non really wholly possessing that power, the Chimera is an indispensable portion in finishing it. In the text of Monkey, there is a chapter titled Riding the Dragon. The general thought is that the fierce firedrake, blindly assailing pilgrims and eating one of their Equus caballuss, without recognizing it really benefits the travellers. In expiation, Guan-Yin forces the firedrake to expiate for his inconsideration by taking the topographic point of the devoured Equus caballus. The consequence is a Equus caballus better than the first 1 for the maestro, and the lone 1 that can transport the pilgrim to India as ordinary Chinese Equus caballuss could non. A enemy turned to ally merely by finishing its responsibility.

Western influence ran the length of the Silk Road. Religion, aesthetics and thoughts common to many civilizations were pulled together and synthesized by the multi-cultural civilisation merely made possible by the huge webs that composed one of the longest and most momentous trade paths in the history of the universe.

Bibliography

Anonymous. Chimera and point ticket. Accession # MLS1874. Freer

Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Anonymous. Head of the Buddha and point ticket. Accession

# 1998.299. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Anonymous. Plate and point ticket. Accession # 64.10. Freer

Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Bentley, Jerry H. Old World Encounters: Cross-cultural

Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times. New York:

Oxford UP, 1993.

Craven, Roy C. Indian Art: A Concise History. New York:

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Lawton, Thomas and Thomas Wentz. Beyond the Bequest:

Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art

and the Sackler Gallery of Art. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute, 1998.

Major, John S. The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History. United states:

Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.

Pedley, John Griffiths. Grecian Art and Archaeology. 2nd erectile dysfunction.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.

Tripp, Edward. The Meridian Handbook of Classical

Mythology. New York: Penguin Books, 1970.

Xinru Liu. The Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural

Interactions in Eurasia. Washington, DC: American

Historical Association, 1998.

Wu Ch eng=en. Monkey: A Journey to the West. Retold by

David Kheridan. Boston: Shambhala, 1992.

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