June 2, 2001
7:13 AM   Subscribe

Ever wondered why the Buddha wears a toga?
Understanding the origins and symbolism behind images of the Buddha.
posted by lagado (12 comments total)
to hide women in? Easier to conceal his MP-5? A gift from a greek friend?
posted by clavdivs at 8:05 AM on June 2, 2001

Clothes make the man...everything else is without merit.
posted by Postroad at 8:23 AM on June 2, 2001

It's to cover up his doodle, of course.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:10 AM on June 2, 2001

Wow, that's an interesting article. There've been about five articles posted here at MeFi in the past few months about culture fusion in ancient cultures that made you really think. This and the one about the Austrians found in central China really stick out in my mind.

I still find it interesting that these cultures were thought to develop without any outside influence, while in reality, every culture steals... erm, borrows from every other culture. (kind of like web design...)

The other thing that I find interesting is that in ancient times, there was always somewhere new to find something, or somewhere to go where you would be unusual and could bring new things and explore new terrain that no one of your race or culture had ever seen before.

What happens to cultures around the world now that there isn't any information we can't really access about somewhere else; what happens now that there is no new territory to be the first one to see? Does our culture stagnate, or do we just turn inward and keep developing at the same rapid pace now that we don't have any distractions?
posted by SpecialK at 12:10 PM on June 2, 2001

What happens to cultures around the world now that there isn't any information we can't really access about somewhere else; what happens now that there is no new territory to be the first one to see?

I don't really support that premise: there's no reason not to think that the tremendous mobility of the modern age won't produce the same rich and strange melding of cultures. While there's certainly not the kind of vast movements that spread the great empires of the last few thousand years, there's always something new to see, if you're prepared to look for it. And that's the point: it's not about being "the first one to see", but about the quality of your response.

And while we may protest the corporate homogenisation that puts a McDonald's in the heart of every town centre, it's still thankfully offset by a diversity that seems to some extent capable of renewing itself.

(By analogy, carbon's pretty familiar, but organic chemistry isn't stagnating.)
posted by holgate at 12:38 PM on June 2, 2001

And as for the notion of cultural development: well, blame (if you like) primary school lessons that distinguish "The Romans" from "The Greeks" and "The Egyptians", and so on. It's only in later life that you find out, for instance, that Cleopatra was Greek, or that many of the Roman villas in Britain were occupied by "romanised" Britons, who'd either married into the ruling culture, or been culturally assimilated and given its privileges.

We have to begin with simplifications, but there's always complexity there, if you're willing to look for it. I'm not expecting to be bored, anyway.
posted by holgate at 12:44 PM on June 2, 2001

olive oil from Italy,chocolate from holland. clam juice from thailand, postcards from japan, japanese game software,camera('Ford' transmission) penguin books from U.K. a little 3 bottle set thingie from Israel(oil, Jordan water and salt) a tapestry from Ghana,blanket from mexico, Canadian 'Player' smokes(like brandy-medicinal ya know)(serape?) fireworks from Hunan via our friends in Tenn.and all that crap from china in between. About the only usa thing in this house is the house and the humans in it. You ask."But imperator, these are things of Materia" Yes they are...cherries from traverse city are divine this season...the internet is the about only model-T that will get us to a true form of multiculturalism...you may one day converse with people around the world more then those in close proximity. some may already be there. So,no 'No diversity, cultural starvation talk'. This in theory is what these minds have dreamed for ions. (almost)FREE EXCHANGE OF THOUGHT. where is my handcrank?
posted by clavdivs at 2:25 PM on June 2, 2001

Well said, brother clavdivs.

Now, I want to write the cultural history of the lemon.
posted by holgate at 2:42 PM on June 2, 2001

start with nixon then work in broccoli call ollie stone and you got a neato pony show.
posted by clavdivs at 5:08 PM on June 2, 2001

Cleopatra was Greek

Don't tell the Macedonians that one, holgate.
posted by lagado at 11:07 PM on June 2, 2001

Mea culpa. (Proving my point, that the term "Greek" to refer to the Hellenic peninsula is itself a nasty little simplification.)
posted by holgate at 3:59 AM on June 3, 2001

Thanks for this link! What a neat article - and thanks for these posts so far - very interesting!

I've always been intrigued by comparative mythology - trying to map the progress of ideas, or discover concepts or symbols that appear to have arisen in parallel is quite a detective story. When symbols seem to be universal, arising independently of outside influence, the question is begged if we are hardwired toward certain symbolic meanings. More mystically inclined folks call it a collective unconscience.

Joseph Campbells work on comparitive mythology is famous, but is not without detractors from the Christian right

The recent book The God Part of the Brain considers the issue as well from a purely scientific view point.

As others have said here, it will always be fascinating to look at the past in regard to cultural fusion and movement, and to speculate about the future. I'm sure the human race will always search for what's new to incorporate that into our culture and style. I think that we are, primarily visual, symbolic, curious creatures. Even though some web gurus would strip the visual and symbolic from the web, that just won't happen - I think we have deep needs to share meaningful symbols with each other.

(I had a bit of technical difficulty here, so I'm crossing my fingers that I didn't post this twice - my apologies in advance if I did)
posted by ilanah at 10:37 AM on June 3, 2001

« Older Miracles of the Next Fifty Years   |   What was this failed dot.com anyway? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments