If There Is Much In The Window There Should Be More In The Room

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Why Christmas is held on 25th December

Why Christmas is held on 25th December


According to popular tradition, Christmas is celebrated on 25th December to honor the birth of Jesus. However, no records exist in the Bible or elsewhere to suggest that Jesus was actually born on this date, which raises the important question – why is Christmas celebrated on 25th December? In fact, the selection of this date has its root in both Persian and pagan traditions.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia admits "there is no month in the year to which respectable authorities have not assigned Christ's birth" (Catholic Encyclopaedia).  There are, however, a number of reasons to suggest that Jesus was probably not born in December. 

Firstly, Luke 2:8 states that on the night of Jesus' birth "there were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks."  Many scholars agree that this would have been unlikely in December, as shepherds would have been keeping their flock under cover during the cold winter months. Shepherds did not remain in the fields of Judea at night during December due to lack of forage and the bad weather.

According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke's account "suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night" (p. 309).

Similarly, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues "against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted" shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.

The Good Shepherd figure has firm roots in pagan antiquity, and became very popular in its application to Christ's characterization of Himself. Like a mother's love, the shepherd's concern for his flock was legendary, and helped reassure Christians of the quality of God's promise and love. This depiction is Jesus as the Good Shepherd from the early Christian catacomb of Domitilla/Domatilla (Crypt of Lucina - 200 CE)

Secondly, it is written in the Bible that Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4). However, The Romans would have known better than to have taken such censuses in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition for traveling. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.


Pagan celebrations

Since it appears unlikely that Jesus was born on 25th December, it raises the logical question of why Christmas is celebrated on this date. The answer points back to the Romans' pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. Two celebrations in particular took place around December 25 - the Saturnalia, and the birthday of the Sun God, Mithra (Catholic Encyclopedia). 

A painting by Thomas Couture depicting Romans celebrating Saturnalia

The Saturnalia festival began on 17th December and later expanded with festivities through to the 25th December. It paid tribute to Saturn, the agricultural God of Sowing and Husbandry, and was associated with the renewal of light and the coming of the New Year. It was a public holiday celebrated around December 25th in the family home--  A time for feasting, goodwill, generosity to the poor, the exchange of gifts and the decoration of trees. But it wasn’t Christmas. This was Saturnalia, the pagan Roman winter solstice festival. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice in the Temple of Saturn, a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Metropolitan Museum of Art Makes Public 400K High-Res Images of Its Collection

Striding lion (ceramics) Mesopotamia, Babylon (modern Hillah) ca. 604–562 B.C.

NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has officially made available 400,000 high-resolution digital images of the collections it currently has in its possession.

Hoping to keep up with other museums, the Metropolitan has created an initiative, called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC), that will “provide access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain.”



See more at: 




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

~ The Grandeur of Khajuraho ~


The Grandeur of Khajuraho

Khajuraho (Hindi: खजुराहो) is a village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 385 miles (620 kilometres) southeast of Delhi, the capital city of India.

The Khajuraho group of monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the most popular tourist destinations in India, Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculpture. The name Khajuraho, ancient "Kharjuravahaka", is derived from the Sanskrit word kharjur meaning date palm.

The art of Madhya Pradesh at once brings in to mind the exuberant art and the creativity immortalized in the figurative molds in the temples of Khajuraho. Viswanatha Temple The temples of Khajuraho are one of India’s major attractions. Once a great Chandella capital, Khajuraho is now a quiet village of over 6000 people. The temples are superb examples of Indo-Aryan architecture, but it’s the decorations with which they are so liberally embellished, that have made Khajuraho famous.

Around the temples are bands of exceedingly fine and artistically carved stonework. There are sculptors, which have shown many aspects of Indian life, 1000 years ago - gods and goddesses, warriors and musicians, real and mythological animals. These temples were built by the Chandellas, a dynasty that survived for five centuries before falling to the onslaught of Islam. Almost all Khajuraho’s temples record a century long burst of creative genius from 950- 1050 A.D.

Basically all the temples follow a three-part layout. You enter the temple through a porch, known as the Ardhamandapa. Behind this is the hall or Mahamandapa, supported with pillars and with a corridor around it. A vestibule then leads into the Garbhagriha, the inner sanctum, where the image of the god to which the temple is dedicated is displayed.

The temples are almost all aligned east to west, with the entrance facing east. Some of the earliest temples were made of granite, or granite and sandstone but all the ones from the classic period of Khajuraho's history are made completely of sandstone.
The whole area was enclosed by a wall with eight gates, each flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 Hindu temples, of which only 25 now stand in a reasonable state of preservation, scattered over an area of about 8 square miles (21 km²). The temples of Khajuraho suffered destruction by early Muslim invaders between c.1100-1400 AD as various disfigured statues at the temple complex attest.

Today, the temples serve as fine examples of Indian architectural styles that have gained popularity due to their explicit depiction of the traditional way of sexual life during medieval times.

Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to an English man in late 19th century and the jungles had taken a toll on all of the monuments.

Architecture of the Khajuraho temples

The Khajuraho temples, constructed with spiral superstructures, adhere to a northern Indian shikhara temple style and often to a Panchayatana plan or layout. A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities - to God's Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and various Devi forms, such as the Devi Jagadambi temple.

A Panchayatana temple had four subordinate shrines on four corners and the main shrine in the center of the podium, which comprises their base. The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern.

With a graded rise secondary shikharas (spires) cluster to create an appropriate base for the main shikhara over the sanctum. Kandariya Mahadeva, one of the most accomplished temples of the Western group, comprises eighty-four shikharas, the main being 116 feet from the ground level.

The Khajuraho temples are made of sandstone, they didn't use mortar the stones were put together with mortise and tenon joints and they were held in place by gravity. This form of construction requires very precise joints. The columns and architraves were built with megaliths that weighed up to 20 tons.

These shikharas – subordinate and main – attribute to the Khajuraho temples their unique splendor and special character. With a graded rise of these shikharas from over the ardhamandapa, porch, to mandapa, assembly hall, mahamandapa, principal assembly hall, antarala, vestibule, and garbhagriha, sanctum sanctorum, the Khajuraho temples attain the form and glory of gradually rising Himalayan peaks. 
The name Khajuraho, or Kharjuravāhaka, is derived from ancient Sanskrit (kharjura, खर्जूर means date palm, and vāhaka, वाहक means "one who carries" or bearer). Local legends state that the temples had two golden date-palm trees as their gate (missing when they were rediscovered).

Khajuraho is one of the four holy sites linked to deity Shiva (the other three are Kedamath, Kashi and Gaya). Its origin and design is a subject of scholarly studies. Shobita Punja has proposed that the temple’s origin reflect the Hindu mythology in which Khajuraho is the place where Shiva got married; with Raghuvamsha verse 5.53, Matangeshvara honoring ‘’Matanga’’, or god of love.

These temples of Khajuraho have sculptures that look very realistic and are studied even today.

'Kamasutra' Endless at Khajuraho  

The Khajuraho temples do not contain sexual or erotic art inside the temple or near the deities; however, some external carvings bear erotic art. Also, some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings. They portray that, for seeing the deity, one must leave his or her sexual desires outside the temple. They also show that divinity, such as the deities of the temples, is pure like the atman, which is not affected by sexual desires and other characteristics of the physical body.

It has been suggested that these suggest tantric sexual practices. Meanwhile, the external curvature and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in human bodies, as well as facts of life. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities, they show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian of the time when the carvings were made, and of various activities of other beings. A common misconception is that, since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are temples, the carvings depict sex between deities.

However the kama arts represent diverse sexual expressions of different human beings. The vast majority of arts depict various aspects the everyday life, mythical stories as well as symbolic display of various secular and spiritual values important in Hindu tradition. For example, depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians making music, potters, farmers, and other folks in their daily life during the medieval era. These scenes are in the outer padas as is typical in Hindu temples.


A view on the famous temples
Between the skies and bushes
A closer look at a temple in Khajuraho
Adinath Temple
Admiring Khajuraho...The lady Brigade

Friday, September 26, 2014

Distinctly Kogan

Distinctly Kogan

BRAHMS: Violin Concerto in D Leonid Kogan / Boston / Monteux 

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, was composed by Johannes Brahms in 1878 and dedicated to his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. It is Brahms's only violin concerto, and, according to Joachim, one of the four great German violin concerti. The Germans have four violin concertos. The greatest, most uncompromising is Beethoven's. The one by Brahms vies with it in seriousness. The richest, the most seductive, was written by Max Bruch. But the most inward, the heart's jewel, is Mendelssohn's.


Of the legion of superb musicians out of Soviet Russia, Ukrainian violinist Leonid Kogan (1924-1982) remains notable for his immaculate skill and natural, patrician bearing and nobility of line. An unabashed admirer of Jascha Heifetz, Kogan consciously attempted to recreate that peerless master’s style, insisting on playing on all four steel strings.  While this approach did not yield particularly “flexible” results, the intense power of expression and brilliant resonance became as identifiable a trademark for Kogan as a burnished tone defined a Heifetz interpretation.

Leonid Kogan considered Brahms’s and Mozart’s Third Concertos his favorites; DOREMI has now made available live performances from Kogan’s first American tour (the Brahms Concerto being his actual American premiere) on a single disc. Kogan recorded the Brahms Concerto three times in the studio from 1955 (with Bruck and the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire) to recordings with Kondrashin in 1959 (Philharmonia) and 1967 (Moscow Philharmonic).

That exemplified Kogan—his sound wasn’t nearly as identifiable as Oistrakh’s to a young listener—but the white heat of his performance and the steely strength of his virtuosity made an indelible impression nonetheless. This American debut sounds similar, with Kogan entering with perhaps even grander, more assured aplomb, thus reaching his level of intensity earlier. Those who consider Kogan a somewhat remote, cold player should listen as a corrective to his readings of Brahms’s Concerto (as should those who entertain a similar opinion of Heifetz, who had so deeply impressed Kogan on his return to Russia). Similar to Heifetz in his technical command, Kogan nevertheless produced a tone that seemed rawer and less nuanced. Both had all the power required to bring the violin part of Brahms’s first movement to the fore (the cadenza is dazzling if somewhat edgy).


The American press wrote after the violinist's concert at Carnegie Hall "Kogan is a rare type among the performing artists: a most musical of musicians, he is always an enormous successful with the public". This recording was made during his first tour in the United States in 1958. Leonid Kogan is accompanied by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by the legendary Pierre Monteux. The public gave him a ten-minute ovation.


Leonid Kogan
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Pierre Monteux
Live recording, Boston, 10.I.1958
I. Allegro non troppo 0:00
II. Adagio 20:12
III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace 29:01

Leonid Kogan - Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major Op.61

Leonid Kogan was less famous in the West than his competitor, David Oistrakh. This was probably more to do with politics in the USSR rather than any lesser worth, although he started later and died at the tragically young age of only 58 in 1982. Coupled with this, he did not like recording, particularly on film or TV because he always preferred performing in relatively darkened surroundings. 

He was a virtuoso of the first order, however, as these rare recordings show. The Beethoven Concerto is the centre-piece, and is ably accompanied by Louis de Froment. Particular sections of great repose and beauty are to be found in the quiet parts of the first movement and particularly the slow second movement.

In 1966, Leonid Kogan is in Paris and interprets Beethoven's Concerto for violin and orchestra in D major with the National Orchestra of the ORTF conducted by Louis de Froment: first of all it is the purity of his sound that appeals, then the extreme elegance of his playing and his contained sensibility. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

~Michelangelo Was No Beauty~

Michelangelo, painted by Marcello Venusti in 1535.

Michelangelo Was No Beauty 

It is no exaggeration to say that Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was a complicated human being. The man and the myth that grew around him even in his own lifetime are difficult to disentangle. Arrogant with others and constantly dissatisfied with himself, he nonetheless penned tender poetry. In spite of his legendary impatience and indifference to food and drink, he committed himself to tasks that required years of sustained attention, creating some of the most beautiful human figures ever imagined. 

He constantly cried poverty, even declaring to his apprentice Ascanio Condivi: "However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man," yet he amassed a considerable fortune that kept his family comfortable for centuries. And though he enjoyed the reputation of being a solitary genius and continually withdrew himself from the company of others, he also directed dozens of assistants, quarrymen, and stonemasons to carry out his work.

The second of five sons, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born in 1475 in the town of Caprese, located in the Florentine territory of Italy near Arezzo, Tuscany. The son of a magistrate, Michelangelo shocked his family in 1488 by becoming an apprentice to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and then studied with sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni in the Medici gardens in Florence. While honing his skills, he was influenced by prominent people who expanded his views on the arts, especially Lorenzo de' Medici and his school, who introduced him to poets, artists, and scholars in his inner circle. 

Early in his career, Michelangelo pursued artistic perfection in his representation of the human body. His meticulousness led him to anatomy, which he studied fervently, even gaining permission from the prior of the church of Santo Spirito to study cadavers in the church's hospital. During this time, he began a lifelong practice of drawing and sketching to prepare for future works of art and architecture.

Following the death of Lorenzo de' Medici in 1492, Michelangelo left Florence, moving from Venice to Bologna and eventually Rome, where he continued sculpting and studying classical works. During this period the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned the "Pietà" for Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican (1498-99). 

Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican
One of the artist's most famous works, the sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of Jesus Christ after the Crucifixion. After the fall of Savonarola and the rise of the gonfaloniere Pier Soderini, Michelangelo returned home to the republic of Florence (1501-1505). There he began work on his famous colossal statue "David" (1501-1504), created out of marble from the quarries at Cararra. The masterwork established his prominence as a sculptor of extraordinary technical skill and symbolic imagination. 


Monday, August 25, 2014

When He Died

When he died, a wife commissioned this sculpture, as an expression of her love.


In Victoria, Australia, there is a sculpture at Mt Macedon Cemetery to depict a wife’s eternal love for her husband. This is the unique headstone, or gravestone, of Laurence Matheson (1930 – 1987). It’s a marble sculpture called “Asleep” that his wife commissioned from artist Peter Schipperheyn, to express her undying love…

*original post date March 25, 2010*