Thursday, 15 November 2012

Museum Gods

You could just about follow the history of mankind through it's various gods - so far anyway. It would make some sense then that the museum on Chamber Street in Edinburgh has a large number of images and statues of gods both ancient and modern. Here are a few that I photographed on a recent visit there.

First up isn't a god at all but a statue of the Buddha from the ancient kingdom of Gandhara in northern India. This one dates from about 200 to 300 AD.

There is no doubt that Hindu gods have a heavy presence in this blog. But there again they have more Gods than most of the main religions currently still being followed. This small statue of Ganesh, the elephant headed gods of luck and new enteprises, was made in Nepal in the 19th century.

Much older is this 10th century statue of the god Kuvera from Central India. God of wealth, he watches over the riches of the gods and of humans.

From North East India, an 11th century statue of Surya, the chief solar deity

In this 14th century South Indian carving, Vishnu sleeps upon the coils of Ananta the many headed snake.

The Hindu goddess Parvati (11th century, south India)

A much more recent, 19th century, Indian sculpture of the monkey headed god, Hanuman.

This is a Surasundari or heavenly body, which would once have graced one of the temples of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. She's about 1000 years old.

Moving on to Greece, this wine jug was made in around 520BC, it shows the goddess Athena alerting the heroes Ajax and Achilles about the battle of Troy.

The tales of Greek gods remained popular long after anyone seriously believed in them. In this 19th century French sculpture, Boreas, the God of the North Wind, carries of a kings daughter, Orithyia, to become his wife.

This fellow looks like he's had a hard time - I'm not sure how old he is as I missed the bottom of the label. He is Asklepios, the God of Medicine. His staff entwined with a snake is often seen as a sign of the medical services today.

This plaster cast is taken from a panel on the doors of the Baptistry in Florence. It was the second set of doors for the building that were made by Lorenzo Ghilberti. Commissioned in 1425, they took him 27 years to complete. They became known as the Gates of Paradise. You can see them here and the original panel here.

This panel features God's creation of Adam and Eve, through to their eventual expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

This is an 18th century ivory figure of Shoulao, the god of longevity, made in China. He holds a peach in one hand and a staff in the other

This is an older Shoulao, also made from ivory but is from the Ming dynasty, late 16th to early 17th centuries.

A 19th century carving by Yasutada of Fujin, the Japanese wind god. He is astride his bag of winds and is releasing demons from it.

The falcon head Ra-Horakhty was an Egyptian god who, in later dynasties, was the combination of Ra, the sun god, and Horus, the sky god. This tablet was found in Thebes and is thought to date from about 8th to 4th century BC

It is not traditional in Islam to feature figures, let alone Allah or the prophet Mohammad. This ban of figurative painting led to wonderful geometric designs and calligraphy instead. As one of the worlds major religions it seems reasonable to give Islam a mention in this blog and is represented here by this 17th century Turkish tile with and inscription on it.

Here I am back in the ground floor of the museum's main hall. There used to be a couple of large Buddhas in around the same place when I was a student with some seats underneath them where I used to sit and write letters occasionally.

Small update.
Some places you can't go to too often and I was back in the museum only a few days ago. Here for, for the benefit of John mainly, I am again sat below the Buddha and, with a little photographic assistance, no Europa rocket to be seen.



Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I like the last one. You sit like a God. What is with the Europa missle in the background of you sitting so God-like?

Sandy's witterings said...

Perhaps the rocket is somebody's attempt to reach the Gods.
Glad to hear I've got God like sitting cracked - just the rest to work on now.

The Glebe Blog said...

That's a great collection Sandy. I too love museums. I've always got the thought at the back of my mind though, that maybe the exhibits weren't acquired through fair means.

Sandy's witterings said...

Jim,There is no doubt that a fair amount of the objects in museums are, quite frankly, stolen. That's before you take other types of unethical dealings into account.

Poppy (aka Val) said...

Another great blog, especially the ones of you sitting with the buddha, I hope you rubbed his tummy for good luck? :)

Sandy's witterings said...

Val, perhaps I should avoid putting to much weight on - don't want people coming along rubbing my tummy.

Shundo said...

Thanks for those. Naturally I was most interested in the first picture, as I get to hang out with a couple of Gandharan Buddhas pretty regularly. The style is very distinctive, and if the face on this one is a little different, the flow of the robe is almost identical.