Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Understanding Jainism Through Art

"Teerthanker Jina" by Jain cloud via Wikimedia Commons -
"Teerthanker Jina" by Jain cloud via Wikimedia Commons[/caption] 
Next week, I begin a short unit on Jainism. Two museums with online exhibits provide students with an excellent introduction. One is the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the other is the Rubin Museum in New York City. That exhibit has closed but students can still see images from the exhibit in a New York Times slideshow. 

Students can also read a good review of the show from the New York Times. The Victoria and Albert Museum has tons of information about Jainism, from short articles to video clips to images.

Students can read a story about Mahavira, the most recent of the 24 jinas (a teacher or role model who has achieved liberation).

Other articles include information about Jain temples, Jain pilgrimages, and Jain art. Here's a short clip about 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism:
The exhibit also includes a fascinating story about Jain illuminated manuscripts. These manuscripts are an important religious focus of Jains which, according to the article, includes"the study, recitation and veneration of sacred scriptures."

Students can also see two short video clips about those manuscripts. The Rubin Museum introduced an exhibit in 2009 called “Victorious Ones: Jain Images of Perfection.” The New York Times review provides a good summary of Jainism and an introduction to Jain art. According to the Times, the art dates "from the 5th to the 17th century," and "add up to a primer of sculptural types." Students can see an overview of these types in the story's accompanying slide show.

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