Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chinese Dynasties

If you need help placing the Chinese Dynasties in the correct historical context, here are a few items that might help.

The chart above was found here.

Click the image above for a fun music video outlining the history of the Chinese Dynasties.  These music videos come from the Historyteachers on YouTube.  Check them out for tons of history related music videos. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Religion and Philosophy in China

Today we discussed Confussionism, Tao (or Dao) ism, and Buddhism in China.  These ideas will influence a lot of the art in this chapter of Gardner's Art Through the Ages
Here is a short video overview of the differences in the 3 philosophies.

Here is a fun music video comparing Confusionism and Daoism to the tune of Justin Beiber's "If I was your Boyfriend"!  Enjoy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hinduism and Buddhism

Are you confused about Buddhism and Hinduism?  I hate to admit that I don't know EVERYTHING (gasps of surprise) but I'm not really solid in my understanding either.  Here are a few fun, short videos to help you in your understanding.  The first is from Crash Course.  Need to understand something quickly, look up Crash Course on Youtube!

And here's one more comparing Hinduism and Buddhism.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

All About Mudras!

I found these on http://www.buddhanet.net/mudras.htm and thought they might be helpful in understanding images that we are seeing of the Buddha in both India and Asia. Enjoy!

If your in my class and you want extra credit here's a fun assignment you can do. Draw each mudra an dwrite what it really means.  Then try to explain how or why that mudra might have gotten that meaning.  You don't have to do historical research, but if you do please share with me! This is more of a memory device to help you remember.  We already talked about how the mudra for teaching has teh fingers making a circle, and lots of Buddhist teachings involve the wheel.  Now you try it!

The symbolic gestures of the hands of Buddha images, called mudras, are picture tools of identification of deeper meaning:
Gesture of Teaching
The Gesture of Teaching (Dharmacakra Mudra) with both hands in front of the breast, tips of the index finger and the thumps touching.
Gesture of Compassion
The Gift bestowing Gesture of Compassion (Varada Mudra) the right hand pendant with the palm turned outwards.
Gesture of Meditation
The Gesture of Meditation (Samadhi Mudra) with both hands resting on the lap, palms upwards.
Gesture of Fearlessness
The Gesture of Fearlessness (Abhaya Mudra) the right hand slightly elevated, the palm turned outwards, also called the Gesture of Renunciation.
Gesture of Debate
The Gesture of Debate explaining the Buddha’s teachings (Vitaka Mudra) with the hands raised and the tips of the forefingers and the thumbs touch each other.
Gesture Warding off Evil
The Gesture Warding off Evil (Tarjani Mudra) with forefinger and little finger outstretched.
Gesture of Prayer
The Gesture of Prayer (Namaskara Mudra) with the palms folded together.
Gesture Beyond Misery
The Gesture Beyond Misery (Buddha-Shramana Mudra) also called an ascetic’s Gesture of Renunciation.
Gesture of Warding off Evil
The Gesture of Warding off Evil (Bhutadamara Mudra) this is a protection gesture


I gave my AP Art History students an optional extra credit assignment of designing a mandala. Here's a little extra info that we couldn't get to in class.

noun: mandala; plural noun: mandalas

  1. a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism

My understanding is that the mandala shows the order of the universe as a Buddhist sees it. It also is repetitive and round, reinforcing the key Buddhist concepts like meditation (try making one and see if you don't zone out a little).  Mandala's are also round and a reminder of all the round concepts in Buddhism (the wheel of law, the cycle of Karma, the cycle of suffering that is life).  Mandalas can be made out of anything.
Here's a fruit mandala.
Here's one made of chalk.
Can you figure out what this one is made of? (I'm super jealous of that color coordinated collection BTW!)

Many traditional Buddhist Mandalas are made of SAND.  Yep, its hard to work with, but life is suffering so that's kind of the point! Below is a GREAT video showing Buddhist monks making a sand mandala. The video is stop motion because they usually spend DAYS making these things and it has some information along the way. Plus it has a catchy tune and you can dance to it. (Just kidding) Seriously, click the link. You know you want to! If your in my class,post a comment about why you think they end the sand mandala the way that they do (is there any symbolic meaning there?) and I may throw an extra credit point your way.
So, what are you waiting for? Go out and try making a mandala. Get creative, have fun, and maybe move a step closer to enlightenment!