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The Contribution of Art and Iconography Make to the Diffusion of Religious Traditions Along the Silk Road

Autor:   •  April 2, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,465 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,878 Views

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The Silk Road, or sometimes referred as the silk route, is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent which connects East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, as well as the northern and eastern Africa and Europe. The name of the Silk Road was originated from the extensive trans-continental Chinese silk trade which began during the Han dynasty [1] [2] [3]. Other than silk, the Silk Road also carried other commodity which was equally significant in world history. In particular, the Silk Road is the world's oldest international routes that spreads and promotes different religions, such as Buddhism through Central Asia [4]. This transmission not only made an impact on the cultures and lives on those regions but has also left people with a world of wonders in arts and literature. Art and iconography both played a significant role in the diffusion of religious traditions along the Silk Road. Accordingly in the following essay, questions as to the reason why and the way how religions use material culture to promote their cause, whether there is a need for religions to express its faith and identity through art and architecture, and what is the special role that art serve in shaping a particular religious world view will be analysed and discussed.

Art is a significant agent of cultural diffusion along the Silk Road. No matter it is in the form of an art object, design motifs, statues or buildings, they all serve as significant vehicles of cultural diffusion. Moreover, equally important is its role as an agent of trans-continent exchange of religious traditions along the Silk Road. It is important to note that one of the most important features of art that facilitated its role in promoting different religious traditions and religious world view at the time is the fact that art is a universal language across all nations and cultures. Accordingly, ideas and world views of religions can be easily spread and promoted through visual arts, iconography and architecture along the Silk Road. It is also noteworthy that as religious art tends to make a strong claim on the emotions and extended metaphorical meanings of the religious tradition, art work such as painting and sculpture can thus serve as important carriers of religious messages, as the message that it carries can be left to be freely interpreted and spiritually felt by people in their own way. This is when religious sculptures become living things rather than objects, as religious arts were made to come alive with emotion to awe and attract the faithful [5]. Human are visually oriented animals, we mainly gather information of the world around us through the sense of vision. Religions have thus employed the use of arts and architecture as an extension of story-telling. As oral and written stories have long been the backbones of religious beliefs for thousands of years. They form the shared cultural heritage within groups and often


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