Friday, July 6, 2012

Asian Christ Mosaic

Until I get my next post finished, here's an interesting image I came across at this website featuring lots of Bible-related art from several different cultures and time periods.  Jesus sits upon a lotus flower, giving two mudras: His right hand showing the mudra of Abhaya, symbolizing protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear, while his left hand displays the Varada mudra, symbolizing ‘open-handed’ generosity such as charity or the granting of wishes.  Wikipedia writes that "it is nearly always shown made with the left hand by a revered figure devoted to human salvation from greed, anger and delusion."  Behind his head is a cross halo.  Fiery bands emanate from him, like an aureola.

Unfortunately, there's not any info about where the mosaic is located, as it appears to be in a church or other building (I say this based on the small cross at the bottom of the photo).  If anyone knows, please pass it along.

Overall, I think it's a dynamic design, and I like the gold tones throughout, which reminds me of ancient Byzantine mosaics.  One thing that I question, however, is the use of the Tilak or Bindi symbol on Jesus' forehead.

Frank Wesley rarely used this symbol in his paintings of Jesus, though he did in at least one (rather, he typically opted for painting Jesus' forehead in a golden hue to represent knowledge of God).  Naomi Wray writes that "here it may represent a vertical third eye, the never-closing eye of the all-seeing God."  She concludes that "This was not an image readily accepted by the Christian community" (Frank Wesley: Exploring Faith With a Brush, 34).

Interestingly, the Yeshu Satsang Toronto, a monthly Hindu-style worship service lead by Chris Hale (of Christian music group Aradhna) and his wife Miranda Stone, provides sandlewood paste for followers of Jesus "to apply to their foreheads in the form of a dot (tilak). This symbolizes that the person is a spiritual seeker, serious about the pursuit of God."

So here are some questions to consider: How does this symbol (in the mosaic) help to communicate Jesus' identity and/or the Gospel to believers and non-believers alike?  I admit that at this point my knowledge and understanding of the subject is too inadequate to begin to formulate an answer... but what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I know there is one in Kerala, South India. I think it's an ancient church. Was there a number of years ago and can't remember the exact details.