02 November 2017
Art for Gods’ sake: visual messages from five religions go on show at the Ashmolean Museum
Near the top of a mountain in Sri Lanka is a rock formation shaped like a foot. Buddhists revere it as the footprint of Buddha. Hindus regard it as the footprint of Shiva, while Christians claim it for St Thomas the Apostle. But the Muslims have the last word: they attribute it to Adam, and the mountain is known as Adam’s Peak.
For centuries the world’s great religions have competed like mountaineers of different nationalities to plant the flags of their faiths in prominent places. But a new exhibition at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum featuring an image of the Buddha’s footprints on its poster shows they have more in common than they care to admit – and for that realisation it is artists rather than theologians who can take the credit.
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