Wanda Grein is a painter based in Kiama on the South Coast of New South Wales.
Wanda Grein Art Studio @ Kiama
19 Coachwood Street KIAMA.
“Explore Your Creative Side”
Tel: 4233 2297 or Mobile: 0422 029 084
‘Simply Buddha’ is an inspired artwork based around the concept of Buddha’s birthday. For the Buddhist community, this is the most important event of the year. It is a celebration of not only the Birth of the Buddha, but also his Enlightenment and Nirvana. Artists throughout history have drawn upon all sources of knowledge, concepts, stories and human life experiences as subject matter to portray divine and mystical special events. Art has long been a medium through which one communicates both beauty and truth. With no exception, Buddha’s Birthday is one of these momentous events.
As a Christian I can see the parallel links in the story of Buddha’s Birth with the Christian Christmas story, also an important time of the year for all Christians. The artwork does not include Christian images, however, I have included some symbolic imagery from various Western religions and philosophies to illustrate the parallels from an interfaith perspective.
The interfaith mandalas positioned along the spine of the tree are symbolic that as we as a global people move and grow towards a common understanding of our oneness with all that exists. Mandalas historically are designed as a form of meditation and prayer. Here the mandalas symbolise the power of meditation that a peace filled Earth can be achieved by all faiths, cultures and philosophies. Each mandala has a purpose for being included in the artwork.
The first mandala is the Buddhist Dharma Wheel or the Dharmachakra is one of the oldest known Buddhist symbols found in Indian Art.
Mandala two is a Christian mandala, showing the equal arm cross and the life and death of Jesus Christ. It was designed according to the Gospel of Saint John and created by artist Ansgar Holmberg in 2003.
Mandala three represents the Muslim mandala ( black and white image) . This is a very original mandala as its history is so entwined. Whilst found to be linked to Islam, this Kamoliddin Design as it is also known as, means ‘my shield, my protection’. For some time this design was also found on samanid coins ( Persia & Iraq). This design has also been linked to Judaism, with the Star of David in the middle, as well as links to the Zoroastrian culture. The maze design surrounding the Star of David goes right back to Ancient Buddhist.
Mandala four is a Tibetan Mandala representing Japanese Shinto and Taoist philosophies. The central design ‘the Yin Yang’ is globally widely known as the symbol of balance, dual forces, opposites.
Mandala five is from Hindu culture with the familiar Om or Aum Symbol in the middle This mandala is also recognised as the World Peace Mandala. It was designed by artist Om Shantih, in honour of the Hindu Mata Amritanandamayi.
Mandala six is the global symbol for Interfaith Unity. Within this mandala is found the symbols of each religion practised on the Earth at this time.
Mandala Seven positioned at the top of the tree is again another Buddhist Dharma Wheel.
This wheel shows the four colours important in Buddhism- Red, Green, White and Yellow. Within each of the four colours is a Buddhist Symbol: The Lotus Flower-the Padma, symbol of purity. The Stupa (looks like a bell) symbolises the Universe; The Triratana-the three Jewels representing the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha: The Dhvaja which symbolises the victory of Buddha’s teachings.
Finally, on the left hand brow side you will notice two smaller mandalas. The first is the Jewish Mandala for World Peace, and further left is the Baha’i Peace Mandala. On the right brow of Buddha is the Jainism Peace mandala followed by the Native Spirituality Peace mandala. The inclusion of the Bodhi Tree is recognised in Buddhist art with its heart shaped leaves. Historically it represents the Sacred Fig tree growing at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya. Here the tree also represents the ‘Tree of Life’, known throughout several theologies, mythologies and philosophies as the ‘Paradise Tree’ reminding us of connection to each other. It represents our interconnectedness of all life on the planet and beyond, and what links us together as One.
The Tree of Life resonates in every culture the strong message of Unity, that All forms of Life are connected through Cosmic Energy and that we as humans must live in Peace and harmony with All living beings.
The six Buddhist monk children with their different coloured robes represent the entire Asian Buddhist culture. The colours represent the leaves in the Autumn as a reminder that things are impermanent. The Orange robe represents Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. The yellowish colour represents Sri Lanka, Black is Japan, Reddish tones are Tibet, China and Korea wear the Greyish robes and the Brown-reddish tones represent Burma. The monk children are holding lighted candles. Candles are most often used at birthday parties in most cultures. Here the lighted candles are symbolic that when we celebrate a significant birthday it is an invitation to all of us to become enlightened, to become awakened. The other two children wearing plain clothing, are non-Buddhist, represent the Western Culture. They are holding red lanterns symbolic of the Western Culture participating in the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday.
The heavenly creatures or Devas sailing down on Bodhi leaves come along to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday. Some are celestial musicians most often depicted in Chinese Art paintings, and the other Devas are found in Thai Buddhist murals. There are eight Devas in total; the number 8 meaning good luck and prosperity in Buddhist Culture. The inclusion of the Devas all appeared to welcome Buddha into the Physical Realm. The Devas in this painting remind me of the Heavenly Angels who appeared to the Shepherd in the field in the Christian Christmas Story. The Devas are showering the children with tiny white flower blessings and a reminder that as we embark on our journey of enlightenment.
Resting in the background of my painting is the beautiful image of Buddha’s face. A peaceful image portrayed by many an artist, and globally recognised as the reminder to us all of a way of ‘beingness’, a state of open- mindedness, a sense of calm if we choose it. With an open mind, and an open heart great things can be achieved, and to me, this is the true message of Buddhism, and hence the title of my artwork: ‘Simply Buddha’.