Go around the world of Buddha statues 22: What is the beginning of God statue (Buddha statue)?

仏像を巡って 22: 神像(仏像)の始まりとは何か?


   神官 Flamen and king statues in Indus civilization

< 1.   Flamen and king statues in Indus civilization >

< 1. インダス文明の神官王像 >


Last time, I introduced the birth of Hindu statue in India.

So, some persons would have a doubt.

“Are older human statues not the god statues? ”

Before examining this mystery, we sort out this problem at first.







 2 初期人物像,  the earliest human statues of prehistoric times 

< 2. the earliest human statues of prehistoric times >

< 2. 先史時代の人物像 >


What did the earliest human statues mean?

These human statues were made in the entire world from the prehistoric times.

I will briefly show the reasons these human statues are not regarded as god statues.


For example, in India, the earliest human statues (fig. 1) were found from remains of Indus civilization (about 2500 years ago), and simple mud dolls were found in each place after that time.    

In islands of the Aegean Sea, the earliest human statues (fig. A) were excavated at approximately 2,500 years ago

In Japan, ” Statue of Venus of Jomon Period” (fig. B) was made at approximately 5,000 years ago.

In Europe, Statue of Venus (fig. C) was made at the glacial epoch of approximately 30,000 years ago.

May we regard the earliest human statues as god statues?

Probably, these would have been used for purpose of prayer, black art, and the burial.














王と神 ,god statues after city civilization

< 3. god statues after city civilization >

< 3. 都市文明以降の神像 >


The reason that we cannot positively say that the earliest human statues are god statues

As one reason, we cannot identify the relation between a human figure and the myth because of preliterate society.

As more important thing, most myth that humanized divinities stood on top related to the birth of city civilization.

In fact, the myth in preliterate society was the secret that most were handed down from person to person by a social specific hierarchy.

For example, in India, the doctrine including the myth continued to be handed down from a master to limited disciple by oral tradition.

Before long, in the process in which small nations were being unified all over the world, each myth were unified under the guardian deity of the most powerful nation and came to be systematized.

There is difference according to the region, but the myth was being published for promising the royal authority.

In Code of Hammurabi (fig. D) of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, a personal god who was giving the king authority was expressed.

In most of the myth of preliterate society, animal and nature (mountain, river, tree, and plant) was God.

For example, it will be the vestige that most of gods (fig.E, Horus God) of Egyptian civilization were expressed by human statues having a head of animal.


And, in early times, there was resistance to express humanized divinities as shape of a person.

Judaism and Islam forbade idol worship, and, during the early days, Christianity did so, too.

Essentially, the founder of Confucianism and Buddhism wouldn’t wish themselves apotheosized and carved on statues.

Naturally, the pupil and the priest of the initial religious community would have refused idolization.




















What is important?

The beginnings of humanized divinities in each place seem to occur almost at the same time when the religion suddenly awakes.

Crossing the dividing line of this time, god statues being different from older human statues begin to be born.

Actually, the boundary will be an inarticulate one.

For example, Buddhist statue and Hindu statue of India were so.

The religion has been systematized, the religious scripture has been established and idolization has been permitted, subsequently, the birth of god statue seems to occur almost.

The idol expression of competing religion and different civilization seems to influence this beginnings.


From the next time, I examine the beginnings of China.















Categories: culture+society, <english language, <japanese language, Series: Go around the world of Buddha statues | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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