Art in the Service of Religion

The complimentary relationship between art and religion can be traced back to the primitive ancient societies. This is where art was used to depict the tangible facets of religion while illustrating the underlying concepts that religion postulated .The universal belief of the rising of art began in 19th century in Western Europe (Cynthia, 2001). Ancient and Medieval Christian art began to be collected for appreciation rather than worship, while modern Christian art was not widely encouraged across different beliefs systems in society.

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Early forms of art that could be termed, as original Christian art was not much preserved owing to the fact that Christianity as a religion was a lower class religion. In addition, most of its proponents underwent persecution (Beth, 2004). Christian art essentially integrates both Roman and ancient Greek art. As a result, Christian art encompassed both the native religion ideals and adopted part of pagan art in illustrating their religious issues.

Religion has unquestionably been the most frequently used inspiration for artists. Due to the omnipotent nature of art, it has been used by religion for various reasons. Key among this noble course is the provision of symbols and figures that the art provides. These are normally used for sacramental purposes or to generate a spiritual feeling of proximity to God. A common example of art that has been utilized in religion is the painting of Virgin Mary holding infant Jesus. This symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ and its spiritual significance to the Christian believers. Essentially art was utilized by religion to convey religious messages rather than rendering images and people.

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Another illustration is the painting by Leonardo da Vinci on the last supper. In this art, he depicts a consternation that took place among the twelve followers of Christ when Jesus announced his betrayal by one of them .This is a classical example of how religion has integrated sacred art to document significant religious timeline events.

Many of the images of animals, winged humans, angelical beings, and fire are thought to be visions that the various individuals associated with particular religious groups may have been received from contact with their gods. The use of calligraphy in the Islamic book Quran is another observable case where art meets religion on an aesthetic perspective. Furthermore, conveying the revelations of God to Prophet Muhammad in Arabic. Geometry is also widely used by Islam’s in their architecture, ornamental designs which foresee the development of the rich Islamic culture. This postulates the relevant role religion plays in the development of pieces of artwork.

Buddhist art also was used in religious cycles to pass along shared upon beliefs and acted as symbols for their faith. Buddhist cave paintings ranging from calm devotional images of the Buddha who offered spirituality to the believers to lively and crowded environments, usually involving the seductively full-breasted and narrow-waisted women more common in Indian curved sculptures than in painting (Cynthia, 2001). Buddhist art developed and even significantly influenced the growth of Hindu art.

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In conclusion, the analysis of pieces of art has vastly contributed to the understanding of religious messages, which have been passed from one generation to another (Cynthia, 2001). This may be in the context of images, stone carvings, or even architectural designs involving religiously essential symbols that link the believers to their gods.

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