R-Log: Chinese Folk Religions and Art

What I found interesting in a lot of Sidney Gamble’s photos are the different kinds of religious elements found in Beijing. While westerners would associate ancient Chinese religions and philosophies along the lines of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, there is always an underlying element to them that is rooted in indigenous Chinese religions and ancient gods that Gamble brings out in some of his photographs of temples. I found it interesting that he took pictures associated with everything from Chinese folk religions to Presbyterian churches.

I was more interested in the Chinese folk Most of the religious art that we see from China tends to be simple and less ornate Buddhist statues, but we rarely see things on their ancient gods, perhaps due to various efforts to destroy Chinese folk religions and temples even before the Japanese invasion and the Cultural Revolution. Shortly before Gamble’s photographs, many temples (not just limited to indigenous temples though) had been destroyed during many of China’s internal political conflicts. in the late 19th and early 20th century.

What I found in many of these photographs was that the gods were sculpted in very ornate styles, had something in their hand (either a sword or musical instrument) and frequently had very abstract and exaggerated facial features that still appeared anthropomorphic in spite of it.


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