About Symbols in Art. Page: 3

Buddhist art travelled from India through South-East Asia, Indonesia, Tibet, China and Japan, taking in local cults on the way and adapting their imagery to its own ends. Christianity, born in the Near East, absorbed some of the religious imagery of the region through the Old Testament. Persian textiles, which found their way to the West, have motifs that reappear in Byzantine church art. Others came from as far away as China. In the West the Church absorbed imagery from the pagan cults it replaced and gave it a fresh, Christian meaning.

We see how easily symbolic images can mean different things to different peoples; how seldom, at least in art, are they endowed with a fixed, immutable core of meaning that transcends different social and religious milieus. This is not to deny the existence of unconscious archetypes as a source of symbolism, but simply to keep them in perspective and be aware of their limited importance in relation to the visual arts.

Bibliography: Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art. Contributors: James Hall - author, Chris Puleston - illustrator. Publisher: IconEditions. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1996

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