Tag Archives: religion

The Unexplained Mystery of Buddha Hair

Seated upon a stone bench in the corner of an ivy garden, this Buddha meditates with calm reflection of the peaceful and beautiful scene around him. It is very popular to position Buddha statues in gardens. They serve to remind the casual garden wanderer that the garden is a perfect place for personal reflection.

The Buddha statues you see in a garden are often varied in size, color and origin. The Buddha’s teachings traveled all over India and into China. From China it moved wherever the traveling missionaries/monks went.   Some took the teachings into the countries of the Southeast Asian peninsula, while others went through the Korean kingdoms into the Japanese Isles.

Thus, we find all sorts of versions of Buddha statues. Some are fat, some thin, some happy, some sleeping, and some wearing strange ornamentation on their heads. The key is that no one has any idea what the actual Buddha looked like.   We often forget in our technologically dependent civilization, that cameras and photography are not even 200 old years.   So, these statues are decent representations of people whom received the rank of enlightenment known as a Buddha.

This particular Buddha has the characteristic snail Buddha Statue in Gardenknots on his head. It is lost to history and speculation about what, if anything, the strange bumps actually represent. Historians know that the Buddha shaved his head after he became enlightened. According to a logical earthly artistic interpretation, the bumps therefore show the artists were artistically attempting to display the short curls of the Buddha as the hair grew back in.

However, since the Buddha is often seen in a spiritual nature, it makes sense that there is a story that covers this characteristic also. Indeed, there is a popular story of garden snails who martyr themselves to the sun while protecting Buddha’s shaved head from sunburn as he meditated in the garden one day.

It was also thought that upon enlightenment you would receive a cranial bump that signified your advancement into higher levels of thinking. One possible interpretation being that bigger thinking needs bigger brains that have bigger skulls. Therefore, the Buddha could have all these bumps to signify how spiritually advanced he was.

Regardless of your interpretation, the Buddha statue remains one of the focal points to most gardens. A simple reminder that harmony and peace should exist there.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!

7 Facts about the Putto.

In Renaissance and Baroque art there are very few misidentified beings as the putto. The putto exists in various forms and functions since the days of Ancient Greece. In the Middle Ages the putto disappeared from the artistic and religious natures that the ancients used.

Instead of disappearing forever, they underwent an artistic rediscovery in the Renaissance (1420’s) and used extensively throughout the Baroque period appearing in everything from frescoes to paintings to sculpture. Eventually they became misidentified as baby angels.

Here are 7 facts and clarifications about the Putto :

  1. Putto actually means, “toddler winged angel” or “toddler boy” in Italian.
  2. Originally they were of Greek origin as companions Puttoto different goddesses and gods or sometimes messenger spirits. The most famous gods and goddesses were Eros and Aphrodite,
  3. Romans used them to portray a protective spirit called a genius.
  4. Donatello (the famous sculptor from Florence) revived the Putto in the renaissance by infusing the forms with Christian motifs.
  5. Other Renaissance artist continued to use the Putto for both religious and non-religious functions until the mid 1720’s.
  6. The putto is not a cherub. Cherubs, short for Cherubim are angels depicted with the faces of a human, lion, eagle, and ox. They also have 4 wings.
  7. It was in a 19th century French artistic revival of putti as beings of prosperity and leisure that they began to be mistakenly called cherubs.

Since the putto exists on many churches and secular buildings through the renaissance and baroque time periods it is rather easy to understand why it is found on Spanish missionary churches in the Southwestern United States.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!

Calling the Faithful: An Native American View of the Mission

Calling the Faithful is a long distance shot of a campanario, or Spanish mission bell tower. While in previous articles we have discussed the linear artwork of the architectural designs, this photograph represents another form of artistic venture.

I wanted to take a shot of the tower from the viewpoint of the Indians who lived in the mission and shared their space with the Jesuit and Franciscan priests who ran the churches connected to the mission.

As you would expect from most European cultures of the 16th century, the Spanish priests had a very difficult time seeing the Native American population as social equals. As a result, the best living areas at the mission were often reserved for the priests and small contingency of soldiers who manned the few gun emplacements that each Mission maintained.

The Europeans always chose to live in quarters next to the granaries, wells, and the main church or chapel.   This left the natives to basically risk living under or even in outer walls as far away from the church and European centers as possible.

I’m sure, even though the natives quite realized they Calling the Faithfulwere secondary citizens in their own land, they accepted this arrangement. The simple reason being that while the European population may not have trusted the Native Americans, there is very little evidence that the Native American trusted them wholly either.

Indeed, the natives were not the doe eyed, uneducated or uncivilized heathens, as the European history books would have one believe. They knew and understood the political implications of the Spanish incursions in their lands and most had already seen or heard the stories of the Spanish Conquistadors and their lust for gold and riches.

Why then would a tribal members wish to be assimilated into Mission life?  Simple, the Spanish were not always the biggest threat. Comanche and Apache war parties are a major contributing force to the decisions of the natives to live under the Spanish flag. While the European powers managed to bring firearms, horses and devastating diseases to the new world, they did not bring war. It was already here.

In fact, There is a line of thought that most Mission-pacified Indians were much more concerned with living with the protection of the Spanish military against common enemy ethnic groups, than anything else. It was a risky gamble. Live with the Spanish and become converted to a foreign religion and culture, or risk fighting your superior ancestral enemies with little chance of surviving the outcome.  A harsh view, no matter what the angle.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!

The Story of the Infant Jesus Of Prague

This is the statue of the Infant of Prague in the Holy Family Church of Jerome, Arizona.   The statue rests in the corner of the confessional room in the Church of the Holy Family.  It is the only statue in that room and faces the confessional booths.   The history of the Infant Jesus of Prague is a fascinating example of the mysterious stories found so often when dealing with the stories of Catholic saints.


The story of the original statue of the Infant Jesus Of Prague is historically thought to begin with a small statue of the Holy Child holding a bird in the right hand around the early 1340s A.D.  Some historians believe that the statue arrived in Prague in the early 1600s when an aristocrat gave the statue to the Carmelite order in 1628.


The Carmelites enshrined the statue at the Church of the Virgin Mary the Victorious in Prague.  However, trouble began soon after its arrival.  Shortly after 1628 a series of invasions involving Saxon and Swedish armies placed the city under the control of anti-Catholic protestant forces.  Veneration of the statue ceased.


It wasn’t until 10 years later that a Father Cyril arrived at the remains of the church and found the statue of the Infant of Prague in a pile of rubble behind the altar.  He discovered that, in the looting of the church, the statue sustained damage to its right hand.


Nonetheless, he placed it in the proper placement for veneration once again.  He wanted to repair the statue but had neither the funds nor the skills to see the job completed.  So he decided to pray for guidance and while praying he experienced a religious vision.  He received instructions to place the statue at the entrance to the church and 2 days later an unknown man arrived at the church and repaired the statue for free.


Soon after the miracle, construction of a chapel began and the story of the Infant of Prague spread.  Many rich aristocratic families gave gifts to the statue as offerings of thanking.  These included 2 rings for his repaired right hand, a glass case with golden angels, sets of fine clothing for the statue, and finally even a crown placed on his head.


Since that time,  veneration of the statue continues to spread to all areas of the world.  The Infant is the patron of good finances, health, family and pregnant women.  Many churches, schools, and religious institutions now exist in the name of the Infant Jesus and the statues veneration as a holy relic continues to this day.

I used this site EWTN for historical references

Here are some examples of prayers offered to the Infant Jesus of Prague every day:

Catholic Online:

EWTN: Prayers:

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!