Dressing or accessorizing God
On Saturday, Bobbie and I crossed Los Angeles proper (with a stop at the fabulous Tacos Villa Corona in Atwater Village) and went to the Norton Simon Museum.
It’s a surprisingly wonderful little art museum, that seems to know its size and reach and takes advantage of both. It has a pretty solid run through the history of Western art.
It also has a big collection of Hindu artifacts. (It is nice to understand that the deities on display are, essentially, done with their divine service — they’ve been the abode of God in the past, but now they are really just empty vessels. In India, they get discarded.)
This time through, Bobbie and I were seeing with more educated eyes. And two things struck us:
- The deities — lots of Visnu, some Siva, a four-faced Brahma, surprisingly, among others — clearly were made to be decorated. It isn’t that their bronze isn’t beautiful, but there is a sort of simpleness to them that is begging for garlands, jewelry, paint.
- The deities that are sized to be carried? They had holes or little handles through which one could put poles. And those poles could be set upon shoulders as the deities were carried for festivals and darshan. We had never noticed these holes and handles before — how is that possible? How did one of us not at least see the holes and wonder, “What are those for?”
It is a reminder that to an extent one only can see what one knows about — what one has learned.
That’s what we are going for as we prepare for the Yatra. Educated eyes
with which to see God.
Posted by Steve