The Cosmological Belief
I researched the structure of buddhism cosmology in Thai belief and materials and technique that ancient Thai craftmen use for traditional paintings.
The Cosmological Belief
2019, Mixed Media on Canvas
(Tempera, Acrylic and Gold Gliding)
80 x 100 cm.
What is Buddhism Cosmology?
The original cosmology was first created in India and spread through the Silk Route. You will see that this cosmology has been shown in many Asian religious; Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism etc. This cosmological map influenced the ancient people to build the city in this shape. According to the old Indian scripture, the cosmology was depicted as a big map. In the centre of the map, a great mountain, called Meru or Sumeru, is located. It is surrounded by seven mountains, each separated from the other by a sea. At the foot of the seventh range, there is a great ocean, contained at the distant perimeter of the world by a ring of iron mountains. In this vast ocean, four island continents are situated in the cardinal directions, each flanked by two island subcontinents. The northern continent is square, the eastern continent is semicircular, the southern continent is triangular/round, and the western continent is round. Although humans inhabit all four continents, the current world that we live in is the southern continent, called Jambudvipa. This universe was made of thirty-one planes of existence, stacked in layers, and three realms, or bhumis. Tri-bhumis(the three realms) were Arupa-bhumi (the formless realm); Rupa-bhumi (the realm of form); and Kama-bhumi (the realm of sensual desire).
SHAPE & LINE
I am interested in geometric shapes and balance in this plan. The shape of the circle means the round of existences in the Buddhism belief and shape of the square means the balance and the stable of the universe.
I interpret that the mountain which is located in the centre means “meditation”. If you want to be at the highest level in the Tri-bhumis system, you have to do mediation until you can understand the world and be free form human desires. In our religious mythology, the Lord Buddhist kept doing meditation until he knew the path leading to the Cessation of Suffering and became the supreme status of the system.
All seven lines around Mount Sumeru symbolize the seven mountains with the farthest one is in the form of the unstable line. When those lines come closer to Mount Sumeru, they will become more circle shape like creatures that become closer to meditation. I drew those lines only once without repeating or editing to reflect meditation. If I had no enough meditation, I could not draw the lines perfectly. In each mountain, I also used different blushes to represent the height of the mountains. The thickest line means the highest mountain and the thinnest one means the lowest one.
In the work process, I use tempera colour which is Thai traditional wall painting technique in the early Rattanakosin period(Late 18th century - Early 19 century) as the background of my painting. And used an acrylic colour for drawing the other elements due to its thicker texture. In my experiment, I tried mixing powder colour with 4 different ingredients, which were yolk, white egg, glue and gum arabic, to make tempera. these ingredients gave similar results. Finally, I decided to use gum arabic for this project because of its smoothness.
White Center, Mark Rothko, 1950,
Oil on Canvas,
205.8 x 141 cm, Private Collector
No.3/No.13, Mark Rothko, 1949,
Oil on Canvas,
216.5 x 164.8 cm, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY, US
Blue Cloud, Mark Rothko, 1956,
Oil on Canvas,
137.7 x 134.7 cm, Private Collector
Untitled, Mark Rothko, 1954,
Oil on Canvas,
242.9 x 186.7 cm, Private Collector
I am interested in the way that Mark Rothko used the shade of colours on his paintings. Usually, he liked to use the colours to express human emotions by colour contrast. The main physical qualities of Rothko’s paintings are thin washy paint, warm and cool colour relationships, and geometric forms floating in a large plane of colour.
For the circle of Mount Sumeru, I used golden colour by using the gold leaf gliding technique which is a Thai traditional technique to represent the main idea of the painting.
For the lines of the seven mountain, I chose reddish orange which contrasts with the sea(greenish-blue)
For the continents on the map, ancient people liked to symbolize them in four different shapes - The northern continent is square, the eastern continent is semicircular, the southern continent is triangular, and the western continent is round. In contrast, I designed them in different colours instead of shapes. Their colours depend on how I interpret the continents. I decided to paint only 2 continents(north and south) because I tried not to let the continents stole the mountains’ scene.
The northern continent (Uttaraguru Taweepa) - The utopia world of merited people. People in this continent are beautiful and follow the five precepts of the lord Buddhist. I chose PINK to symbolize innocent and happiness.
The southern continent (Chompu Taweepa) - The current world where we are living. This continent is different from the other continents above, it is full of desire and also the home of both good and bad people. The most special of this continent is that all Lord Buddhists were born here. From the previous reason, I used BLACK to describe this continent.
Simatrang, Sone. (2013). Representations of the Tribhumi and Cosmological Beliefs in Thai Mural Painting. Bangkok, BKK : Faculty of Decorative Arts, Silpakorn University.
Leksukum, Santi. (2001). The History of Thai Art. Bangkok, BKK : Muangborarn.
Kuphanumat, Chalongdej. Spirit - Univeres. Creation of Contemporary Arts of Morality Reminiscence Medias. (2016). Chiangmai, CM : Varasarn Vijitsillp.
Thutongkinanon, Pichai. (2011). Journal of Urban Research : The Ancient Colors of Mural Painting in the Bhuddhaisawan Chapel. Bangkok, BKK : Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University.
Cleaver, Dale G. (1966). Art : An Introduction. Florida, FL : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Cottington, David. (2011). Modern Art : A Very Short Introduction (Triam-Anuruck. Janaya, Trans.). Bangkok, BKK : Open Worlds.
Mencher, Kenney. (2017, February 13). Why is Mark Rothko a famous painter?. Retrieved January 6, 2019, from http://www.kenneymencher.com
N.D. (2011). Mark Rothko and his paintings. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from https://www.mark-rothko.org
Renko. (2016, November 1). Buddhist Cosmology. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from http://thezenuniverse.org
N.D. (2018). Buddhism Cosmology, Death, Heaven and Hell. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from http://factsanddetails.com