MYTHOLOGICAL FIGURES IN ART HISTORY

Throughout history countries, societies and villages have followed belief systems to refuge ones conscience to explain everyday occurrences and natural events. From the clouds in the sky to the very grass that grows in the ground, each culture have adapted a belief system to interpit the world in which they live. Through chosen mythical figures they tell a story of the world around.

This statue represents an Aztec goddess. At first glance, one may be drawn to the skull at the center and mistake it for the head. But the head is actually up top, in the form of two serpents facing eachother and there are several other elements that refers to things that exist in the natural world, which are all combined to form this amalgam of a being. She is associated with being the goddess of earth and the creator of celestial beings, fertility as well as a mother figure. The skull is only a centerpiece of the goddesses’ necklace which also includes human hearts and hands and her skirt is also composed of several snakes. She is like a living environment. Her breasts are weathered from birthing other gods such as Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl and this contrast of maternal and destructive elements of Coatlicue serves as a metaphor for the earth, as the earth is responsible for both the births and growths of all its organisms as well as its decay and destruction. And it is clearly represented that as parts of her are aging, other parts are thriving, just like the earth.
The rhyton is a drinking vessel, often shaped into a head of mythical animals such satyrs and modified versions of existing animals, which in this case is a cat with wings. Rhytons are used for consuming wine and it can be seen that the conic area is used to contain the drinking fluids which would flow downwards and through the spout at the pointed end. These objects were common in the ancient near east but were particularly prominent in Persia. But what about these drinking vessels was special and why were they made as opposed to drinking out of regular, non decorated cups? It has to do with the fascination of things that do not exist in the natural world. It is an exciting feature of thought to create displays of supernatural beings we don't normally see in nature. And because this is such stimulating thing, it makes sense for one to want to be in possession of these ideas in a physical form. In this, cats do not possess wings, yet they are present as well as highly decorative at that. These decorative traits in conjunction with the mythical qualities produce an attractive product that stimulates the imagination which you can drink wine from.
Zhong Kui is a oriental painting on a hanging scroll by Kim Yun-bo during the late 19th century - Early 20th century. It is currently residing in Pyeongyang, North Korea in the Korean Art Gallery. Zhong Kui is a Chinese Mythological figure that is known to vanquish ghosts and evil beings. Zhong Kui is depicted with a ferocious face, round eyes, andcurly whiskers. The origins of Zhong Kui's myth can be found in the painting of Wu Daozi. In the story, Emperor Xuanzong dreamt of two ghosts where Zhong Kui being the larger ghost swore to protect the emperor from evil spirits because he failed in the military examination. In recent times, paintings of Zhong Kui is used in households to keep evil spirits away. There is also a custom to hang up a picture of Zhong kui on New Years Eve to protect the upcoming year.
Bishamonten, Guardian of the North is a standing life size figure that was made in Japan during the Kamakura period(1250-1300). It stands 1854mm tall and lies in the provenance, Gift of the Apollo society. The Bishamonten sculpture is making a gesture with its right arm because it was once holding a spear. On its left arm, it was holding a symbolic of a treasure house, pagoda. Movement is present in the sleeves much like the ones from the Hellenestic period. The mask in the center of his stomach symbolizes the subjugation to evil. It is made using the Hinoki wood with lacquer paste using the ichiboku zukuri technique that was famous during this time period. It is a single block construction method for sculptures carved from blocks of wood. Bishamonten is one of the four guardians of the Buddhist temple; Bishamonten is the guardian of the North. In Japan, he is the god of war and victory. Also has many other attributes such as one of the Japanese Seven Gods of Fortune and guardian of the Buddhist Law.
Dragon and Clouds by Yokoyama Taikan is a ink painting on a hanging scroll made in 1937. This work depicts a dragon moving through the foggy clouds. Unlike the dragons from the western world that is often portrayed with wings, dragons from the far east are shown levitating without wings in a serpent like form. This type of imagination is from the Chinese master of dragon-paintings, Chen Rong. The dragon painted by Chen Rong also shows a dragon moving through vicious clouds that are black and white. The dragons are also portrayed with whiskers and intimidating eyes. In Japanese culture, most dragons are water deities that represent large bodies of water like the ocean. They look like serpentine creatures with clawed feet. A notable dragon in Japanese myth is Watatsumi, often called the "sea god" that ruled the seas and oceans. He lived in his own underwater palace guarding his treasure and jewels. In modern culture, dragons are often found as symbols for shrines and temples, literature, and architecture.
This relief stone sculpture of "Hunting Centaur" was created 370 BC - 330 BC by an unknown artist that is currently in the rights of Museum of Fine Arts Budapest. This relief was carved with white limestone that represents a hunting scene where the Centaur(left) caught his prey, the gazelle(right). This iconography of hunting that symbolizes virtuous life has been very popular during this time period. Virtue was rewarded with eternal life as the victor of the hunt has caught its prey. This particular artwork relates to the myth of Dionysos, in which the god appears catching wild beasts alive. It is visual in this work that the centaur is trying to hunt its prey alive. The gazelle on the other hand represents a sacrificial animal from the Ancient Egyptian culture.
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