Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Manichaean Instruction Books in Pictures
Manichaean Picture Book - "The Arzhang or Ardahang, also known as the Manichaean Picture Book (sometimes referred to as “Mani’s Picture”), is a collection of artwork which depicts the various tenets of Manichaeism, adapted for various cultures. It is believed to have been lost centuries ago. It was Manichaean tradition to produce pictorial works for the purpose of teaching. As the books were passed on to missionaries in other lands, they were adapted for the needs of the local culture. According to Dr. Zsuzsanna Gulácsi with the Northern Arizona University, the “paintings were created first in mid-third century Mesopotamia with direct involvement from Mani… and were later preserved by being copied and adapted to a wide variety of artistic and cultural norms, as the religion spread across the Asian continent.” In his book, Mediaeval Manichaean Book Art: A Codicological Study of Iranian and Turkic Illuminated Book Fragments, Dr. Gulácsi says, “Numerous Manichaean and polemic tetual sources confirm that Mani himself created pictorial representations of his teachings, collected probably in a book format… the Picture-Book… became one of the basic resources employed for didactic purposes in most communities. It was taken along on one of the first missions to Central Asia headed by Mar Ammo at the end of the third century, celebrated in North Africa in Manichaean hymns during the fourth century, reported about in a Manichaean document to the Chinese government during the early eighth century, and held as an admired object in a Muslim treasury at Ghaznin during the eleventh century. This doctrinal painted work was a rich visual resource of subjects and iconography and it influenced the formation of other Manichaean media.” Manichaeism. "Bonner offers three traits of Manichaeism. First, it was a universal creed. It was the fulfillment of all the revelation that had gone before. Manichaeism was destined to inherit the earth. Second, it was a missionary religion, expanding along the trade routes of the fertile crescent. Third, it was a religion of the book ¾ Mani's book of course. To this, Brown correctly adds that Manichaeism was a form of crypto-Christianity and, as such, increasingly became a problem in North Africa. The Manichees felt that they were revealing the true teachings of Christianity and thus Frend can say "by becoming a Manichee Augustine had no thought of renouncing Christianity ("The Gnostic-Manichaean Tradition in Roman North Africa," JEH, 24)." The Manichaeans used the Book of Giants from the Book of Enoch, the Aramaic version. Gnosis with a Buddhist illustration is Manichaeism - Gnosis in the East.