> From: Patricia Radford [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> At the same time, imagery is accepted as developing independently
> in different cultures. Art historians don't assume that because similar
> images occur in various cultures there is a direct connection, although
> this is very seductive. One must follow the imagery backwards very
> carefully during the research process. It is often the case that there is
> no connection whatsoever.
This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? Similarity does not
necessarily mean contact or a single source.
For example, right now I'm looking at Figures 407 and 408 in
Gimbutas' _The Language of the Goddess_, sculptures of what she calls the
"fish goddess" found in prehistoric sites at Lepinski Vir in the former
Yugoslavia. Figure 407 in particular looks, to me, an awful lot like a
typical sheela figure. But of course that doesn't in any way "prove" that
sheelas originated in the Danube region.
> My research areas are bronze age European and medieval Irish art. I have
> two colleagues in Asian Art . One studies south Asian art (Pakistan &
> India), the other east Asian (China & Japan). In the past, as I organized
> my slides for lecture, both have observed similarities between the arts of
> their subject areas and the Celtic and Irish imagery they have observed in
> my slides--particularly the manuscripts. We have never followed up on
> this, but threaten to regularly.
Are you aware of the discussions concerning the transmission of
Indo-European traditions to China and Japan? In connection with myths and
deity figures, it's mentioned in an essay in _Concept of the Goddess_ ed. by
Billington & Green.
> As for the Irish interlace motif(s), it's pretty much accepted that they
> are considered to be protective as well as ornamental. I'm sorry that I
> don't have the reference here, but several years ago a very good paper was
> published that made an excellent case for this. It dealt specifically with
> illuminated manuscripts, I believe.
If you recall the reference or come across it, would you please post
it? Thank you.
> Within a Christian context such as manuscripts, we don't say that they
> were intended to 'make magic,' but in a way they were believed to do so.
Actually, I'm coming to the conclusion that what we now call "magic"
was much more acceptable in medieval times. There's the whole tradition of
verbal protection--whether written or recited charms, the more formal
loricae, or chants such as the encompassing prayers found in the Carmina
> Certainly, interlace is seen as possessing certain protective powers, as
> I've already mentioned. It is also believed that the process of creating
> and looking at the intricate designs found in Irish illuminated
> manuscripts was meditative and allowed the scribe--and afterwards, the
> reader--to achieve a heightened sense of the divine/divinity.
Do you have any sources to cite for this? I'd really like to explore
this topic more.