Art and religion

I think one of my favorite things about art history is the spirituality that exists in so much art. Many of the greatest pieces of art were made because of an immense dedication to a people’s chosen deity or deities.

There were great temples created to try and bring humans closer to the gods, like the ziggurats of Uruk or the pyramids in Egypt.

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(White Temple and ziggurat, Uruk, Modern Iraq, 3200-3000 BCE)

There were also devoted statuettes of worshippers, ever ready to serve their god (this example also from what is modern Iraq).

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Their varying size often denoted how “important” each of them was, but they’re all forever wide-eyed and praying.

I think my favorite example from the Babylonians is the Ishtar gate, which I will probably explain in more detail at a later date.

During the time of Mesopotamia, the most important gods were Anu (chief deity of the Sumerians), Enlil (Anu’s son, lord of the winds and earth and eventual replacement of Anu), and Inanna or Ishtar (Sumerian goddess of love and war, usually shown with a sacred lion, most important goddess of the Mesopotamian time period).

There were obviously many others, but it was from these beliefs (or from the rejections of these beliefs) that many of our world religions were created. And from those religions, more art was made. Art has been a way for man to show commitment to a higher being, either by creating it or commissioning it. While I think art would have developed without the development of religion, we might not have some of the spectacular works that we do today in a spiritual vacuum.

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