Can you define art? No. Can you define religion? Perhaps no.
In our history, we are often unable to find proper answers to some of our basic queries.
At the beginning of civilization, we had come up with some ideas and notions that were supernatural to put our faith upon, and now, in the twenty-first century, some people seem to put their hope in entities that are invisible.
Are we able to challenge god? Perhaps not but this too opens up a room for discussion.
Human beings, since the onset of civilization, found it hard to understand basic happenings around them, viz; unconquerable mountains, seas, storms or celestial events, or even birth and death.
We may be now able to find some answers to these questions but the primitive man saw the celestial bodies, felt the burn of mother nature, started fearing them, and ended up worshipping them.
It’s the intellectual powers that man started caricaturing his cognitive sides since then.
How far back does religion date?
All the imaginary or realistic feelings of humans led to the constructed storytelling in the forms of paintings, stone carvings, cave murals, sculptures, crafted utensils, ornaments, or even in literary forms i.e. poetry and prose.
Religion, as in the Oxford dictionary, is the belief in the existence of a god or gods, and the activities that are connected with their worship.
Indus valley civilization and later Hindu religion are dated back to 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. However, the oldest Indian paintings are around 30000 years old and found in caves as rock art (Bhimbetka rock shelters).
Religious Themes In The Vedic Era
In the Vedic era, with the ascendancy of Sanskrit, we have a sea of mythological creations like Vedas, Upavedas, Vedangs, Upanishads, Mahabharat, Ramayan, etc.
The Vedic era was the stepping stone of Hinduism.
Later on, to go away from the several severe flaws of Vedic configuration, Jainism and Buddhism began to rise.
From first-to-second-century BC to the eighth-to-tenth century AD, we have artistic evidence based on religious themes of Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains as well as secular mindsets too.
Miniatures along with larger-than-life paintings, of Buddhism and Hindu deities are dated back to the medieval era.
More about art and religion:
Art Encompassing Religious Boundaries
With the rise of Jainism, illustrated manuscripts made lavishly with the use of gold were found.
Islamic art dated back to the seventh century CE and encompasses the visual arts.
Unlike Hinduism or other sects, they prohibit the use of human or animal representation in religious art.
They showed their mettle in art through calligraphy, geometry, regal, and arabesque ornamentation, and figures.
In India, during the Muslim empires, we witnessed an amalgamation of Islamic art with that traditional Hindu art.
Meanwhile on western continents, with the rise of the roman empire, Christianity set to become the largest practicing faith in the world.
Christian church became the organizational patron of the arts very soon.
Images of Jesus and biblical narrative scenes describing the life of christ are the most prevalent in Christian art.
With the development of communication skills, human beings started drawing even unthinkable. With the wings of imagination, we excelled in every mode of expression.
“Jahan na pahunche ravi, vahan pahunche kavi.” religion and art are not synonymous but they go side by side together.
With all the creativity, we tend to shape our feelings, sentiments, hopes, superstitions, fears, and beliefs beautifully.
We witness the influence of religion on art and vice versa.
Further dimensions of art and religion:
Author: Shalini Priyadarshiny
Editor: Diya Mondal