Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West (Writings of Frithjof Schuon)
This edition of renowned philosopher Frithjof Schuon's writings on the subject of art, selected and edited by his wife Catherine Schuon, contains over 270 photographs―200 color and 70 black and white. He then deals with the spiritual significance of the artistic productions of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Far-Eastern world, while also covering the subjects of beauty and the sense of the sacred, the crafts, poetry, music, and dance, and dress and ambience.
thought and seizes our being in its very substance. 53. Sainte Chapelle, Paris, 13th century There are blessings which are like snow; and others which are like wine; all can be crystallized in sacred art. What is exteriorized in such art is both doctrine and blessing, geometry and the music of Heaven. The Sainte Chapelle: a shimmer of rubies and sapphires set in gold. No individual genius could improvise its splendors. One might think that they had sprung from the lily and the gentian.
between Atma and Maya, as the Vedantists would say. Knowledge does not derive from reasoning grafted onto physical and psychological experience; on the contrary, it has its source in the pure intellect, which contains all metaphysical and cosmological ideas in its very substance. Man has access to them in principle through "Platonic recollection"; in fact, however, most men are exiled from their spiritual root, so that they must receive the Truth from the outside, through spiritual practice as
Ayat al-Kursi (the Throne verse), Koran 2: 255,Turkish calligraphy The spiritual intention of Islam is brought clearly to view in its art: just as its art captures the all-pervading and the all-inclusive, and avoids narrowness of every kind, so Islam itself seeks to avoid whatever is ugly, and to keep in sight that which is "everywhere Center." For this reason it replaces, so to speak, the "cross" by the "weave." A center which is a center only at a definite point, it rejects as "association";
is destined in Islam, not to express the "eternal feminine" as does Hindu dress, but to hide woman's seductive charms. The Hindu genius, which in a certain sense divinizes the "wife-mother," has on the other hand created a feminine dress unsurpassable in its beauty, its dignity, and its femininity. One of the most expressive and one of the least-known forms of dress is that of the Red Indians, with its rippling fringes and its ornaments of a wholly primordial symbolism; here man appears in all
towards the outward and the superficial, and a conventionalism without intelligence and without soul; but this, it must be stressed, rarely deprives sacred art of its overall efficacy, and in particular of its capacity to create a stabilizing and interiorizing atmosphere. As for imperfection, one of its causes can be the inexperience, if not the incompetence of the artist; the most primitive works are rarely the most perfect, for in the history of art there are periods of apprenticeship just as