Cult-images and religious ethnology : - the European exploration of medieval Asia and the discovery of new iconic religions

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TitleCult-images and religious ethnology : - the European exploration of medieval Asia and the discovery of new iconic religions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsBacci, M.
JournalViator (Berkeley, CA)
Volume36
Pagination337
Date Published2005
ISBN Number0083-5897
KeywordsArt, Art religieux, Buddhism, Comparaison, Comparison, Devotional imagery, Dieux, Europe, Gods, Hindouisme, Hinduism, Idolatry, Idole, Idols, Idoltrie, Imagerie de dvotion, Marchands, Medieval, Merchants, Missionaries, Missionnaires, Mongolia, Mongolie, Moyen Age, Occident, Orient, Piety, Pit, Religious art, Taoism
Abstract

In their exploration of the Mongol Empire during the 13th and 14th cs., Western merchants and missionaries experienced for the first time the contact with peoples and cultural traditions which had been almost completely uknkown in times past. Unexpectedly, some features of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist use of religious images proved to look quite similar to Western practices and contributes to suggest a feeling of affinity between European and Far Eastern devotional habits. Such a feeling relied on at least three important issues: - the widespread use of three-dimensional statues (instead of icons, as in the Christian East) caught the Westerners' imagination; - second, they were struck by the complex and highly developed iconographical code employed by the religions of the Far East; - third, they understood that the "idolaters" of Asia shared the Christian conception of the sacred image as a reproduction of a much older archetype, being an authentic, original, or even "acheiropoietic" portrait of a divine personage.