Monday, November 7, 2016

The Search for the Picture Book of Mani

Dunhuang blue. Gobi Desert in Mongolia. 250s A.D. to 1000s A.D. Manichaean worshippers in white, the leader is in a long white robe. Manichaean - are those pods making a halo around them? Those look like the members called the "Perfects" all in white, they wore tall white headdresses. Mani`s books, their religion was spread by avid missionaries who used picture books. Buddhist traveler with a Himalayan snow leopard. "He wandered throughout India for nearly 16 years. He visited Buddhist holy places and found the religion thrived in the east of the country. He collected Indian holy books and took them back to China. The picture is a wall hanging from Dunhuang depicting a Chinese pilgrim laden with manuscripts and sutras. It may well be a representation of Hsuan-tsang on his return to China." Himalayan snow leopards. Silk Road spirituality. Manichaean picture book, the story of Adam and Eve. Manichaean electi from China. Mani's Pictures - The Didactic Images of the Manichaeans from Sasanian Mesopotamia to Uygur Central Asia and Tang-Ming China - Zsuzsanna Gulácsi, Northern Arizona University "The founder of Manichaeism, Mani (216-274/277 CE), not only wrote down his teachings to prevent their adulteration, but also created a set of paintings—the Book of Pictures—to be used in the context of oral instruction. That pictorial handscroll and its later editions became canonical art for Mani's followers for a millennium afterwards. This richly illustrated study systematically explores the artistic culture of religious instruction of the Manichaeans based on textual and artistic evidence. It discusses the doctrinal themes (soteriology, prophetology, theology, and cosmology) depicted in Mani’s canonical pictures. Moreover, it identifies 10th-century fragments of canonical picture books, as well as select didactic images adapted to other, non-canonical art objects (murals, hanging scrolls, mortuary banners, and illuminated liturgical manuscripts) in Uygur Central Asia and Tang-Ming China." A banner from Dunhuang - note how the artist has depicted transparency with the hand holding the glass bowl.

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