Different communities have their unique ways of representing their cultures. In most cases, these cultural representations are done through works of art and architecture. This paper analyses the unique cultural and artistic representation of four architectural works that include the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, the Taj Mahal, The Warrior Vase and Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Ishtar Gate
The Ishtar Gate is a beauty to behold as demonstrated in the above picture. The gate was built in 575BC as part of the plans by King Nebuchadnezzar II, the then king of Babylon, to make the capital of his empire beautiful as well as pay homage to the deities. This gate was the eighth in Babylon and served as the main entrance into the city. So magnificent was this gate in the ancient world that it initially made it into the list of the ancient world's seven wonders although the Lighthouse of Alexandria later replaced it. The Babylonians had a rich religious culture, and the Ishtar Gate represents this so well. Although the various pictures of animals engraved on the gate represent honor to other deities, the gate was dedicated and named after Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess associated with war, love, and fertility. The other deities, such as Marduk and Adad, were represented by animals that included dragons, lions, and young bulls as shown in the picture. Such homage to deities presents the Ishtar gate as a rich representation of the Babylonian culture very well.
The Ishtar gate has unique stylistic features that set it apart as a distinctive work of art in the ancient world. It is decorated with glazed bricks that are blue in color. These blue bricks surround the alternating graphic rows of lions, bulls, and dragons that are furnished in brown and yellow tiles. Measuring approximately 38 feet high, and with a vast antechamber to its south as well as a long brick-paved corridor that served as the processional way, the Ishtar wall remains an excellent architectural work. King Nebuchadnezzars prayers are inscribed underneath the yellow and red stones that make up the brick-paved corridor.
The Taj Mahal
Nobody may imagine that a building could attract so much attention. However, with exceptional architectural art, this is possible. Located in Agra city, India, and with an attraction of over five million tourists a year, the Taj Mahal, translated as Crown of the Palace,' is one of the most magnificent and popularly known architectural works in the world. The building, an iconic symbol of Mughal architecture, was commissioned in 1632 by Shah Jehan, the fifth Mughal emperor. The emperor is said to have become so overwhelmed by the death of his wife and mother of his fourteen children, Mumtaz Mahal, who had died in 1631 while giving birth, that he decided to have a fine Sepulcher built to mark his pious intentions of honoring his late love. It took the artistic and architectural efforts of about twenty thousand people to have the ivory-white marble mausoleum completed. Mumtaz was a darling to many, and the fine architectural work demonstrated by the Taj Mahal is a representation of the respect and esteem with which the people of Mughal held their empress. The willingness to build the monument also represents the peoples cultural orientation that what pleased their emperor was pleasant to them too. The Taj Mahal is an eternal representation of the scientific and artistic achievements of the wealthy Mughal Empire.
The stylistic features of the Taj Mahal represent the rich Mughal architecture. The white-marble catacomb is decorated with turquoise, lapis lazuri, crystal, amethyst and jade (semi-precious stones) that form complicated designs. There is a 240-feet central dome which is surrounded by four smaller ones while at the corners stand four minarets (slender towers). To authenticate the Muslim tradition, there are many calligraphic inscriptions of Quran verses. So exceptional are the architectural features of the Taj Mahal that in 1983, the UNESCO had it designated as a World Heritage Site for excellently symbolizing Mughal architecture and Muslim art in India.
The Warrior Vase
The pre-Mycenaean pottery mainly depicted marine life and sea plants. The Warrior Vase, which came during the Mycenaean Civilization, was based on this pottery work. The Mycenaean cultural heritage is well represented by the Warrior Vase, a prominent treasure of the National Archeological Museum which is based in Athens, as shown in the above picture. Although the earlier Minoans heavily influenced the Mycenaean pottery during the period 1550-1050 BCE, new pottery shapes were added to the existing ones thus achieving a unique and strikingly standardized artistic work across Mycenaean Greece. The vase, a mixing bowl, is one of the most famous pieces of the pottery associated with the late Helladic age. The ancient Greeks mainly used the vase to mix wine that had been diluted with water. This marked the height of civilization that characterized the behavior of these people. Culturally, the Greeks were en-route to a new era. The Warrior Vase, therefore, represented their culture in a unique way.
The Warrior Vase is characterized by exceptional stylistic features. On the outer surface of the vase are incomplete broad friezes of armed soldiers, perhaps suggesting an association with the name. The soldiers, who are carrying shields and spears, are clad in breastplates, greaves, helmets and short chitons. The Warriors are also depicted as carrying knapsacks, and this may be a suggestion that they are on a long journey to battle. The handles, on the other hand, resemble a bulls head. This may be a suggestion that this artwork is related to that of the 8th century although as aforementioned, the pre-Mycenaean pottery was heavily influenced by the earlier Minoans. Nevertheless, the artistic work is great and excellently represents the cultural orientations of the people at the time.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
In the ancient world, the Hebrews expressed their cultural orientations in their unique ways as depicted in the images above. Being notoriously religious, these people had manuscripts that communicated various messages. The 1947 accidental discovery of some sets of the Dead Sea Scrolls by a Bedouin boy in the Judean Desert in Israel led to a revelation of the immense attachment to culture among the ancient Hebrews. Traditionally, the scrolls were associated with the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect. The Dead Sea Scrolls is a collection of hundreds of manuscripts discovered at Khirbet Qumran, a Jewish settlement during the Hellenistic period. Their name, Dead Sea Scrolls, suggests the vicinity within which they were found from the Dead Sea. The scrolls, which are on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, are a depiction of the enthusiasm exciting history among the Jews who were then going through a period of an unprecedented manifestation of monotheistic creeds and religions.
Although the scrolls are the second oldest manuscripts after the Priestly Blessing, they still depict a rich style of artwork. Most of the writings are on copper, papyrus, and parchment. They are scripted in different languages. Although most are in Hebrew, others are written in Aramaic, Greek as well as Arabic and Latin. Apart from possessing significant artistic features, the Dead Sea Scrolls have linguistic, religious and historical significance. They constitute biblical texts as some were included in the Hebrew Bible Canon alongside extra-biblical and deuterocanonical manuscripts. The scrolls have helped in preserving the evidence of the different thoughts associated with the Second Temple Judaism. The scrolls may be simple expressions of faith; one may not hesitate to ask questions such as who exactly was responsible for scripting the scrolls. Nevertheless, the scrolls give an insight into the ancient worlds religious explorations.
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