Carimbos chineses/ Chinese seals.

 

Vale à pena acessar o link abaixo, que é a fonte do texto que reproduzo aqui, para ver todas as ilustrações.

 

www.chinaonlinemuseum.com/carving-seals.php

 

The first record of a seal in China is from 544 BC. Actual bronze seals survive from the 5th century BC, and the practice of sealing must be some centuries older. The emblematic characters cast on Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) bronze vessels imply the use of something like a seal for impressing on the mold. The royal seal and other seals of high office were termed xi (璽); other seals of rank and appointment were yin (印). In the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), it is said that Empress Consort Wu (武则天) disliked the fact that xi (璽) was close in sound to death (si, 死) or rest (xi, 息), so she changed the name of seals to treasure (bao, 宝). In subsequent centuries, both names were used. The imperial seal was traditionally large and square, often made of jade.

The private seals (印鑑, 圖章 or 印章) used in China, commonly square and reading merely “seal of so and so”, served as a confirmation of signature or a sign to be verified. They are made of stone, ivory, wood, or jade. Used by artists and collectors to mark their calligraphies, paintings and books, there is hardly a limit to their fanciful designs and phraseology. A man might own scores of seals, using his many sobriquets, especially those suggesting unworldly and rustic tastes. A seal is impressed in red ink—made of cinnabar in water and honey or suspended in sesame oil, hempseed oil, etc.—held ready on a pad of cotton or moss. The characters can be carved either in relief (阳雕), or in intaglio (阴刻). The former type appears in red (zhuwen, 朱文 or 阳文); while the latter appears in white (baiwen, 白文 or 阴文) against the inked ground.

       Seals are often used on Chinese calligraphy works and Chinese paintings. Owners or collectors of paintings or books will often add their personal or studio seals to pieces they have collected. This practice is an act of appreciation towards the work. Some artworks have not only seals but also inscriptions or afterwords from the collectors. For example, the Qianlong emperor was famous for his literary ambitions, including calligraphy, and had produced a large amount of texts affixed with his seal. He had as many as 20 different seals for use with inscriptions on calligraphy works and paintings he collected. A seal of a famous collector or connoisseur would become an integral part of a work of art and could substantially raise its value. Thus in the course of several centuries, some Chinese calligraphy works and paintings become covered by dozens of different seals.

 

Rota da Seda no Brooklyn Museum de NYork

 

Ver mais no site do museu onde se encontra este artigo, a figura que o ilustra e outros textos e imagens:    www.brooklynmuseum.org

Ritual Wine Vessel (Guang)

Ritual Wine Vessel (Guang). China, late Shang dynasty, 13th–11th century B.C.E. Bronze, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 4in. (21.6 x 16.5 x 10.2cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 72.163a–b

Long-Term Installation

Asian Galleries, 2nd Floor

The Brooklyn Museum houses one of America’s foremost collections of Asian art. The Asian galleries provide a full survey of those holdings, featuring more than 350 works of art from Japan, Korea, China, India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. The galleries are home to a diverse array of objects, from glowering Japanese guardian figures to delicate Indian miniature paintings, and from the heavily wrought surface of a Chinese cloisonné altarpiece to the smooth celadon glaze of a Korean ewer.

The Chinese gallery at the Museum features objects that range in date from the Neolithic period (circa 3000 B.C.E.) to the present. The works of art on display reveal the sophistication of Chinese craftsmanship and the variety of concerns—funerary, courtly, religious, and poetic—that combined to define traditional Chinese culture. They also demonstrate an enduring respect for antiquity, visible in forms derived from ancient bronzes, emblems such as the dragon and the taotie mask, and materials such as jade, all of which were employed by Chinese artists over several centuries.

The Brooklyn Museum was one of the first American institutions to collect and exhibit Korean art, and as a result it houses one of the country’s premier collections. The gallery presents the varied art forms through which Korea distinguished itself from its neighbors, including a fine selection of ceramics such as early stoneware funerary vessels, inlaid celadons, and later wares with freely painted underglaze decoration.  Also on view are rare examples of bronzes, furniture, and painting.

Japanese works form the largest area within the Asian collections at the Brooklyn Museum. In addition to the traditional arts of Japan, the galleries include a selection of ceramics made by the great masters of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A section of the gallery is dedicated to the art of the Ainu people of northern Japan, material rarely seen in Western museums.

The Museum’s outstanding collection of South Asian art includes works from India and surrounding areas. The objects in this collection represent the rich religious traditions of southern Asia—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam—with an emphasis on figural sculpture and architectural elements. Among the strengths of the Museum’s holdings are terracotta figures dating from prehistory to the present and courtly objects made from precious materials.

Southeast Asia and the Himalayas are represented by smaller installations within the galleries, but these collections include several noteworthy objects, including large-scale sculptures from Cambodia and Thailand and early images from Kashmir and Nepal. Like South Asian traditions, the arts of these areas are primarily religious in subject or inspiration.

 

 

Artigo de Qantara.de 2011

 

Reproduzo aqui o artigo da revista online Qantara.de que é importante para os estudos islâmicos e para o entendimento de vários temas que estão relacionados à leitura do Corão e ao debate religioso.

 

Interview with Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

 

For a Plurality of Koranic Interpretations

One year ago, Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, Egyptian Koranic thinker and one of the leading liberal theologians in Islam, died prematurely at the age of 56. In one of his last interview with Yoginder Sikand, he speaks about his work and reflects on his efforts to promote a humanistic reading of the Islamic tradition

In the course of your work how do you relate to those aspects of the historical Islamic tradition which you think might be opposed to the notion of women’s and children’s rights?

Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd: Every tradition has both negative as well as positive aspects. The positive aspects are to be further developed, while the negative aspects need to be discussed closely, to see if they are indeed essential elements of the faith or are actually simply human creations.

How does this work relate to what you have been previously engaged in?

Abu Zayd: I see it as part of my long interest in Islamic hermeneutics, the methodology of understanding the Koran, the Sunnah and other components of the Islamic tradition. Of particular concern for me are certain assumptions in popular Islamic discourse that have not been fully examined, and have generally been ignored or avoided. Thus, for instance, Muslim scholars have not seriously reflected on the question of what is actually meant when we say that the Koran is the revealed ‘Word of God’. What exactly does the term ‘Word of God’ mean? What does revelation mean?

We have the definitions of the Word and revelation given by the traditional ‘ulama, but other definitions are also possible. When we speak of the ‘Word of God’, are we speaking of a divine or a human code of communication? Is language a neutral channel of communication?

The Koran (photo:James Robinson,DW)
Abu Zaid argues that there is a need to bring the historical dimension of the Koran into discussion because it is indispensable for countering religious and political authoritarianism
Was the responsibility of the Prophet simply that of delivering the message, or did he have a role to play in the forming of that message? What relation does the Koran have with the particular social context in which it was revealed? We need to ask what it means for the faith Muslims have in the Koran if one brings in the issue of the human dimension involved in revelation.

Are you suggesting that the Koran cannot be understood without taking into account the particular social context of seventh century Arabia? In other words, are there aspects of the Koran that were limited in their relevance and application only to the Prophet’s time, and are no longer applicable or relevant today?

Abu Zayd: What I am suggesting is that in our reading of the Koran we cannot undermine the role of the Prophet and the historical and cultural premises of the times and the context of the Koranic revelation. When we say that through the Koran God spoke in history we cannot neglect the historical dimension, the historical context of seventh century Arabia. Otherwise you cannot answer the question of why God first ‘spoke’ Hebrew through his revelations to the prophets of Israel, then Aramaic, through Jesus, and then Arabic, in the form of the Koran.

In a historical understanding of the Koran one would also have to look at the verses in the text that refer specifically to the Prophet and the society in which he lived. Some people might feel that looking at the Koran in this way is a crime against Islam, but I feel that this sort of reaction is a sign of a weak and vulnerable faith. And this is why a number of writers who have departed from tradition and have pressed for a way of relating to the Koran that takes the historical context of the revelation seriously have been persecuted in many countries.

I think there is a pressing need to bring the historical dimension of the revelation into discussion, for this is indispensable for countering authoritarianism, both religious and political, and for promoting human rights.

Could you give an example of how a historically grounded reading of the Koran could help promote human rights?

member of a Sufi Order in Cairo (photo: Ikhlas Abbis)
The Koran represents only one manifestation of the absolute Word of God, says Abu Zaid. Many Sufis saw the whole universe as a manifestation of the ‘Word of God’
Abu Zayd: Take, for instance, the question of chopping off the hands of thieves, which traditionalists would insist be imposed as an ‘Islamic’ punishment today. A historically nuanced understanding of the Islamic tradition would see this form of punishment as a borrowing from pre-Islamic Arabian society, and as rooted in a particular social and historical context. Hence, doing away with this form of punishment today would not, one could argue, be tantamount to doing away with Islam itself. By thus contextualising the Koran, one could arrive at its essential core, which could be seen as being normative for all times, shifting it from what could be regarded as having been relevant to a historical period and context that no longer exists.

If one were to take history seriously, how would a contextual, historically grounded understanding of the Koran reflect on Islamic theology as it has come to be developed?

Abu Zayd: As I see it, Sunni Muslim theology has remained largely frozen in its ninth century mould, as developed by the conservative ‘Asharites. We need to revisit fundamental theological concepts today, which the Sunni ‘ulama, by and large, have ignored, for there can be no reform possible in Muslim societies without reform in theology. Till now, however, most reform movements in the Sunni world have operated from within the broad framework of traditional theology, which is why they have not been able to go very far.

How would this new understanding of theology that you propose reflect on the issue of inter-faith relations?

Abu Zayd: When I suggest that we need to reconsider what exactly is meant by saying that the Koran is the ‘Word of God’, I mean Muslims must also remember that the Koran itself insists that the ‘Word of God’ cannot be limited to the Koran alone. A verse in the Koran says that if all the trees in the world were pens and all the water in the seas were ink, still they could not, put together, adequately exhausted the Word of God.

photo: dpa
Proponent of a humanistic Koranic ermeneutics: Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (July 10, 1943 – July 5, 2010)
The Koran, therefore, represents only one manifestation of the absolute Word of God.Other Scriptures represent other manifestations as well. Then again, many Sufis saw the whole universe as a manifestation of the ‘Word of God’. But, today, few Muslim scholars are taking the need for inter-faith dialogue with the seriousness that it deserves. Most Muslim writers are yet to free themselves from a rigid, imprisoning chauvinism.

How does this way of reading the Koran deal with the multiple ways in which the text can be understood and interpreted?

Abu Zayd: The Koran, like any other text, can be read in different ways, and there has always been a plurality of interpretations. The text does not stand alone. Rather, it has to be interpreted, in order to arrive at its meaning, and interpretation is a human exercise and no interpreter is infallible. As Imam ‘Ali says, the Koran does not speak by itself, but, rather, through human beings.

True, Muslims from all over the world do share certain rituals and beliefs in common, but their understanding of what Islam and the Koran are all about differ considerably. It is for us to help develop new ways of understanding Islam that can promote human rights, while at the same time being firmly rooted in the faith tradition.

Yoginder Sikand

© Qantara.de 2011

Editor: Lewis Gropp/Qantara.de