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Art is not considered a necessity in schools nowadays. It is as important as academics because it will teach students not just creativity but about culture and community as well. For instance, Mandala as an art form may help in learning Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Mandala can be understood in two ways, the external one which is symbolism and internal which is used as a guide for practices like meditation.
Mandala, the term simply means a circle in Sanskrit. The first time it was ever produced was in the first century before the Christ era as a Buddhist art form. In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment.
In Buddhism, the mandala represents the ideal universe and the path to enlightenment. Photo by Amisha Nakhwa on Unsplash
Siddhartha Gautama, as it is known, is the father of Buddhism. He is said to be born in the Lumbini Province, Nepal. The date of his birth is not confirmed but the historians say it to be around 560 B.C. The known facts are that after being aware of the human sufferings and to attain enlightenment he left his kingdom. He sought to attain enlightenment through meditation and thoughtful action. He traveled across parts of India to spread his philosophy and eventually gained followers. The first sangha, a Buddhist community of monks, was formed thereafter.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
These Buddhist monks started traveling across Asia carrying the mandalas through the Silk Route, an ancient trade route which connected the East and West. They helped in spreading Buddhism and these art forms. Though initially it all started with Buddhism it came to Hinduism and other religious practices too. The painters of such spiritual crafts were usually sacred laymen. They worked sitting on the floor.
Mandalas are now used for modern context, religious practices and meditation. The traditional mandala of Tibet represents the enlightened state of Buddha through sand art. The creation of which can take up to weeks but after it is completed it is destroyed in a few hours to depict the Buddhist ideology that nothing is permanent.
They are also used as photo frames at the places of meditation as a sacred belief. Dream catchers also have Mandalas to protect the person sleeping. Most dream catchers can be identified as having the shape and patterns of Mandalas.The creating and keeping of Mandalas can transform and help one in attaining inner peace and wisdom.
Keywords: India, Tibet, Buddhism, Hindu, mandala art, meditation, silk route
By Siddhi Jain
A set of 112 diamonds, originally belonging to Queen Marie-Antoinette of France (1755-1793), will go under the hammer on November 9. Presented in their current form, the 112 diamonds are set as a historic pair of bracelets, estimated to sell for between as massive $2,000,000-4,000,000 or Rs 14.7-29.4 crores. They will be auctioned under the live Magnificent Jewels Auction in Geneva by the auction house Christie's.
In 1776, Marie Antoinette had been Queen of France for two years and was already recognised as the queen of elegance and style. According to the auction house, the same year she bought these two diamond bracelets for 250,000 livres, a huge sum at the time.
According to Count Mercy-Argenteau, Austria's Ambassador to France, they were paid partly in gemstones from the Queen's collection and partly with funds the Queen received from King Louis XVI, says Christie's. The Ambassador later took office in Brussels and in January 1791, received a letter from Queen Marie-Antoinette, then a prisoner in the Tuileries in Paris, after the French Revolution overthrew the monarchy.
"It announced that a wooden chest would be sent to him for safekeeping. Mercy-Argenteau stored it unopened for the next couple of years. Wikimedia commons
"It announced that a wooden chest would be sent to him for safekeeping. Mercy-Argenteau stored it unopened for the next couple of years. In October 1793, Marie Antoinette was guillotined and in February next year, Emperor Francis II of Austria ordered the chest to be opened in Brussels and an inventory to be made."
"It read as 'Item no. 6 -- A pair of bracelets where three diamonds, with the biggest set in the middle, form two barrettes; the two barrettes serve as clasps, each comprising four diamonds and 96 collet-set diamonds'. Madame Royale, the surviving daughter of the late queen, received these jewels in January 1796 upon her arrival in Austria," said the auction house.
In a 1816 portrait, Madame Royale is wearing a pair of diamond bracelets consistent with the Brussels inventory. Madame Royale died childless on in 1851. Her will stated that the entirety of her jewellery collection -- including Marie Antoinette's jewels -- was to be divided among her three nieces and nephews.
Of the pieces with a traceable provenance back to the Queen of France, these extraordinary bracelets are the only example to include diamonds belonging to her and to retain the exact design described in the Brussels inventory. While it is possible that the bracelets might have been remounted at a later stage, no changes were made to the overall composition and the number of diamonds, except for those on the clasp, were kept identical as per the inventory, reveals the auction house.
(Article originally published at IANSlife) (IANS/SS)
Keywords: france, royale, jewellery, crown
Bringing photographs from his visits to the three remote, international locations -- Arctic Circle, Iceland (2010), Antelope Canyon, Arizona USA (2010); and the Great Namib Desert, Namibia (2015), an online exhibition titled 'Pristine', by opthalmologist and self-taught photographer Navin Sakhuja will go on view from September 6-19.
The photographs engage with the power and beauty of nature. Sakhuja in his art practice has been fascinated by and is drawn to the unknown, the unexplored, and the untouched, pristine and desolate parts of the planet.
"I have always been fascinated by the astonishing power and beauty of nature. It is this fascination with the unknown, the unexplored and the untouched which draws me repeatedly to these pristine and desolate parts of the planet. I am always looking for the planet as it was before we gnawed away at it and changed it to what it looks like today. I can only try and describe what I saw, although I know I cannot do justice to the amazing spectacles to which I was witness. This photo essay covers three different visits over the last 10 years, the only common thread being 'Pristine'," writes Sakhuja about the exhibition.
Contemplating on his visit to desert land in Namibia, he writes: "In all my life I have never seen anything as raw, as untamed, and as stunning. The Namib stretches for more than 2,000 km along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa, over undulating seas of sand, gravel plains and rocky mountain outcrops. The 'roaring dunes'-- so called because they create a perfect storm of sand and air, begetting thereby a rumble that is as loud as a low-flying plane--are also distinctive to the Namib."
blue and brown steel bridge. Photo by Tim Swaan on Unsplash
Similarly, the medical professional has this to say about his observations in Arizona and Iceland:
"Today, nearly 200 million years later, these grand canyons, also known as slot canyons because of the thin cracks in the canyon roof which allows in slivers of the blazing Arizona sunlight, are widely accepted to be among the most beautiful, natural architectural features in the world. Slot canyons, typically, are much deeper than they are wide. Some are so narrow that you can touch both walls with your arms outstretched. Others are much wider, like large rooms that suddenly change in shape and size as you twist and turn round the next corner. You have no idea what to expect beyond a few yards. Nature retains her equal ability to surprise and mesmerise."
"Most people would not catch a flight to Iceland in November, in the heart of a full-blown winter that does not seem to distinguish between night and day. And yet there is a certain kind of light, between the enormous storm systems--I was witness to one magnificent display of fire and ice--and large, dark masses of clouds that glower threateningly from the sky."
Person standing on river during daytime. Photo by Debbie Ducic on Unsplash
Calling himself a "full-time eye surgeon, driven by a passion for photography", Sakhuja says, "The truth is that while ophthalmology and photography are all about perceiving light in the best way possible, there are several ways of seeing. Over the years, as I have wielded the camera, I know I have imbued my photographs with my own core. The eye looks through the lens, of course, but it is the mind which impels the finger to trigger the shutter."
"I know that the perfect photograph has never been taken and the perfect eye surgery has never been performed. To have the opportunity to attempt both--I believe I am twice blessed. Every time I venture forth to some remote, untouched part of our planet, I think I have come very close to my own personal quest of taking the perfect photo. I can never click my camera fast enough--I have often thought I saw God in some of these places at least a few times. I know I always leave a little bit of my soul behind."
The online exhibition is on view on www.iicdelhi.in. (Siddhi Jain can be contacted at email@example.com)
Keywords: Nature's Pristine Photographs, Photography, e-Exhibition, Photographer Navin Sakhuja
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Like a lot of Asian actors, Simu Liu has played the nameless guy who can do martial arts but inevitably loses out to a more skilled white guy. It was one of his very first stunt jobs.
"Yeah, I took my paycheck and I went home. I didn't really complain about it," said the Chinese-Canadian actor. "But then, you look at the bigger picture and you look at the opportunities that are available to Asian performers. You see that yeah, past a certain point, there really isn't that deeper representation."
Now, it's Liu's time to take out baddies and be No. 1 on the call sheet. He is taking on the titular role in Marvel Studios' first Asian-led superhero flick, "Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings." The highly anticipated movie, which opens Friday, has all the bells and whistles of a Marvel tentpole — huge fight sequences, dizzying stunts and sweeping locales. While Shang-Chi can high-fly kick and punch any opponent, is the "master of kung fu" powerful enough to make Hollywood finally bury tired story tropes and support projects by actors and filmmakers of Asian descent?
The movie, directed and written by Asian Americans, centers on trained assassin Shang-Chi trying to live an ordinary life in San Francisco. Awkwafina and comedian Ronny Chieng also star. The original comic book was inspired by the popular '70s kung fu films. It pays homage to those but also strives to bring humanity outside of the action. Liu, known for the sitcom "Kim's Convenience," won the role for his acting chops, not karate chops.
"It's his comedy. It's his ability to show simultaneous strength and vulnerability," said director Destin Daniel Cretton. "It's his humanity that breaks stereotypes."
The martial arts movie genre has been a double-edged sword for Asian Americans for decades. Bruce Lee, who was born in San Francisco, is credited with bringing Hong Kong kung fu films to non-Asian audiences because of his jaw-dropping martial arts prowess. But for many Asian American males, it's still an unfortunate rite of passage to be mockingly called Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan or asked about knowing karate.
This image released by Marvel Studios shows Meng'er Zhang, Simu Liu, and Awkwafina in a scene from "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" Image source: voavoa
"When I moved over to California from Hawaii, it was the first time that just a random person in a bar just, you know, lightly and jokingly called me Bruce Lee," Cretton said. "I love Bruce Lee. He is awesome. The only problem is that's all we had."
In fact, a national survey commissioned by nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change in the spring found 42% of 2,766 adults polled could not name a current famous Asian American. The next two most popular responses? Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.
Phil Yu, who comments on Asian American pop culture on his longtime "Angry Asian Man" blog, also co-hosts a podcast, "They Call Us Bruce." Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan themselves were never the problem, he said. It was the way Hollywood ran with the formula.
"It does feel like martial arts, the concept as it's been distorted through a Western lens, is used to pigeonhole us, to make us feel smaller and to mock us," Yu said. In "Shang-Chi," "when you have a movie that is nearly all Asian ... or almost every face is Asian, you have room for everyone to serve a different narrative purpose."
Another cliche narrative that persists is the mystical Asian mentor who trains a white protagonist in martial arts. The white pupil then gets to be the savior back home in the U.S. It's a story that Marvel drew backlash for when, in 2017, they cast a white lead in their "Iron Fist" Netflix series.
The "Shang-Chi" team assures that their foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is something that speaks to the Asian American experience. The high-octane adventure is ultimately a family drama about a young Asian immigrant who shuns his father's wishes to live his own life in America. Dave Callaham, a co-writer, found himself getting emotional over the screenplay.
This image released by Marvel Studios shows Simu Liu in a scene from "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" Image source: voavoa
"I've been writing professionally for 19 years. It's the first time I've ever been asked to write from my own perspective," Callaham said. "Every other movie I've ever written it's 'Step one: Imagine you're a beautiful man named Chris' — a white man usually."
Shang-Chi" is the latest in a cluster of martial arts-theme productions with Asian actors front and center. "Snake Eyes," with "Crazy Rich Asians" star Henry Golding and based on the "G.I. Joe" character, opened in July. That movie also starred Andrew Koji, who is the lead in the HBO Max series "Warrior." The historical drama, which has been renewed for a third season, was inspired by a pitch Bruce Lee wrote. Then there's the recently renewed CW Network's "Kung Fu," a remake of the 1970s show where the white David Carradine played a Shaolin monk.
Olivia Liang, star of the new "Kung Fu," said it feels like Asians are reclaiming something.
"We get to have fully fleshed out characters who also kick (butt) and do martial arts. ... That's the biggest difference that I feel right now," said Liang, at last month's "Shang-Chi" premiere. Entertainment "shapes our world view. For us having been so under-represented for so long, people who don't see a lot of Asians in the community forget we are part of the fabric of their world."
"Angry Asian Man" blogger Yu is glad to see these more progressive adaptations but is ready to see Asian talent move beyond this arena.
"We're still playing in this box of Asians as martial arts heroes," Yu said. "There's nothing inherently wrong with that. But that box should be wider. Look at all these things that are Asian-led stories that have come out in the last couple of years."
"Shang-Chi" comes at a time when Asian Americans are looking for escapism but also to feel more visible. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asians and Asian Americans have been targets of race-based verbal and physical assault because the virus was first reported in China. All the actors in "Shang-Chi" have used their platform to speak out or donate money.
From left, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, Simu Liu, and Fala Chen arrive at the screening of "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" at Regal Union Square, Aug. 30, 2021, in New York Image source: voavoa
Like rom-com "Crazy Rich Asians" three years ago, "Shang-Chi" has more pressure than most of its fellow MCU movies. It's that pressure that somehow the future of Asian-led projects is tied to box office success.
"We're always seen as the 'other,'" said Jodi Long, who plays Mrs. Chen in the movie. "I just don't think we're considered sometimes. I think this movie hopefully will change that because it's our first Asian superhero. We have a lot of heroes in our Asian American community." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Marvel, Asia, America, Filmography, Kung fu