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Comparing of Western and Eastern Sculptures

Art work is the best way for conveying the culture of a particular community to the rest of the world. In fact, we can understand the way people lived, behaved and apprehended  the world by exploring their art. Art can be used to represent everything ranging from religion, politics, education, justice, trade, agriculture, social state, gender differentiation among others.  In this regard, by observing the dominant characteristics of a piece of art, the values of a particular community become obvious. Art can also be used to determine interactions between communities or find similarities and differences between various cultures. The main objective of this paper is to compare and contract two pieces of art: artwork from Western European culture and artwork from non-Western, non-European culture. In both cases, the chosen artworks are sculptures which represent two different cultures.

Western culture has a great number of sculptures that have graced the development and evolution of the European culture. The Western European sculpture presented on the picture characterizes the era, when it was created; particularly it represents the  traditions of Christianity.  Many Western European artworks that represent Christian tradition focus on loyalty and graphic representation of biblical stories. It worth noting that during the Renaissance the classical stories of gods and goddesses provided great inspiration for artists.  The Western European sculpture in the picture is Cherub, one of the strongest angles that God, according to the Bible, used to exercise his might in the biblical times.

The sculpture of Cherub, like most of the European sculptures, was made by curving it on a marble stone to create a two dimensional, embedded-like sculpture.  The sculptors employed various forms of patterns to elaborate different features of the sculpture such as the turban, feathers on wings, beard and hair. The sculpture is large with smooth finishes in areas that have no dedicated patterns or distinguishable features.  Similarly, the Eastern sculpture in the next picture that depicts Buddhist monks was curved on rocks in a cave.  The monks’ sculptures unlike that of Cherub are almost three dimensional, but what is common between the two sculptures is that  they are curved on a surface and appear as embed structures on the surface.   However, the two sculptures were created in a different medium; the sculptures of the monks were curved on rocks in a cave and could be regarded as rock art of cave art, while Cherub was curved on a marble stone. These differences could be a result of the availability of different materials for curving of sculptures, but all the same, there is a clear indication of difference approaches to sculpture art in the two regions. 

Like the sculptor of Cherub, the sculptor of the monks uses different patterns to depict different texture and features of his sculpture. These patterns are prominent on their clothing but the other parts of the bodies have a smooth texture; these include their faces, hair and hands.

The Eastern sculpture originates from China and is a part of the famous Yungang Grottoes sculptures. The sculpture is a masterpiece created by early Chinese Buddhist monks.  The Chinese sculpture unlike the sculpture of Cherub represents a blend of cultures. Cherub on the other hand represents a strong Western European Christian belief and the only blend of cultures that can be noted is a mix of Christian religion and Greek sculpture curving techniques. The Chinese Buddhist sculptures on the other hand show a commendable symbolic fusion of religious Buddhist symbolic art from central and south Asia with the Chinese culture and traditions.

The greatest similarity between these two pieces of art is their religious backgrounds.  Cherub is a central concept in the Christian faith in terms of angels who are the God’s messengers and through whom God executes his orders on earth. The Yungang Grottoes are part of the Buddhist faith representing devoted monks with an illustration of humility and peace. Despite religion being a theme in both artworks, it is also a distinguishing factor due to the fact that Cherub is purely Christian and the monks are purely Buddhists – two different but major religions of the world with different approaches to life and other cosmological views. 

 The symbolism that can be drawn from the two sculptures also distinguishes these pieces and gives the observers an insight into the Western European Christian doctrines and the Eastern Buddhist doctrines. Cherub is a symbol of might and strength and indication that the Western European religious art gave strong faith to God and probably strength against enemies since Cherub was believed to be strong, might defender or a guard.  On the other hand, the Buddhist sculptures of monks are curved in a popular sitting meditation position and indicate the inner piece valued of the Buddhist religion held by the sculptors.

All in all, the two sculptures have many common features. These range from their embedment appearance, use of patterns and smooth textures, possession of religious philosophies and blending of cultures. The contrasts between the two pieces of art include different medium, difference in cultures and religious philosophies and symbolism. Cherub represents Christian philosophy mixed with Greek art technique, while the monks indicate Buddhist ideologies or philosophies and Chinese Buddhist art. Both the artworks are remarkable pieces of sculpture art as they are true representatives of the culture and ideas of two great cultures.