Gizan Katō

Gizan Katō, “Jigen”, 2019, Carved Wooden Figure, 110.2 cm without Metal Stand, Private Collection

Born in Tokyo in 1968, Gizan Katō is a contemporary Japanese sculptor that works with Buddhist themes and classical stories. He studied under the Busshi (sculptor of Buddist statues) Shubun Iwamatsu, who is descended from Takamura Koun. An Imperial Household Artist, Takamura was a modernist in the field of wood carving and greatly respected professor at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. It was he who created the statue of Japanese samurai Kusunoki Masashige which stands in front of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. 

With the understanding that he is both Japanese and Busshi, Gizan Katō focuses his work on the aesthetic roots of Japan, its history, tradition and culture, and the Buddhist realization of material existence’s impermanence. Gizan, as a modern sculptor, explores though his work the meaning of these cultural roots to contemporary art.

Instead of a sketch on paper, Gizan’s creative process begins with a model in plaster or clay. He next employs calipers to make a point-to-point transfer of the model to the wood that will form the actual sculpture.This lengthly and exacting technique requires both concentration and patience. Through this time-absorbing process, Gizan is able to reflect on his work’s expression of both longevity and dignity.

Gizan Katō’s first show was at the Takashimaya Exhibition in 2008. In 2016, he presented work at the Hakuin Exhibition held at the Tohoku History Museum. Gizan exhibited his work in several shows in 2017 including the “Amazing Craftsmanship Exhibition” at Tokyo’s Mitsui Memorial Museum, the Gifu Prefectural Museum of Contemporary Ceramics, Osaka’s Abeno Harukas Museum, and the Yamaguchi Prefectural Art Museum. A solo exhibition of Gizan’s work was held at the Nihonbashi Takashimaya X Gallery in 2019.

In 2011, Gizan, with Buddhist master Miura Yayama, participated in the Buddha Statue Dedication Project, an activity pf prayer and remembrance that carried Buddha statues to the disaster area in Toboku. He was also active in the 2019 Typhoon Number Nineteen Charity Exhibition and the 2020 Signs of a New Era Charity Project.

Gizan Katō’s “Jigen (Manifestation)” is a 110.2 centimeter carved wooden figure which sits on a metal stand. He represents the physical form of an intangible subject, either religious need or secular interest, that a person deeply craves. This subject, need or interest, is that which supports a human being’s existence among greater humanity. Even in our age of accelerated development in technology, the subject supports each human and it will perpetually conserve humanity for years forward.

Gizan’s “Jigen” was auctioned at Christie’s in September of 2020 and sold for 312,500 USD. The figure was exhibited at the Hiratsuka Museum of Art in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan from April of 2022 to March of 2023.

Gizan Katō’s website can be found at:

Note: Japanese naming conventions arrange names with the surname first and the given name second. Thus, Gizan Katō is a member of the Gizan family and was given the birth name of Katō, meaning ‘increasing wisteria’.

Second Insert Image: Gizan Katō and Yozan Miura, Leafing by Miyoko Washio, “Buddha Statue”, Cypress Wood, Crystal, Red Agate, 70 x 95 x 80 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Gizan Katō, “Jigen”, 2019, Carved Wooden Figure, Detail, 110.2 cm without Metal Stand, Private Collection

André Durand

Paintings by André Durand

Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1947, André Durand is a Canadian photographer and painter of Irish ancestry who works within the European Hermetic tradition. At the age of seventeen, he left Canada with his wife Ludmilla to emigrate to Europe. Through its history, Hermeticism was closely associated with the idea of a primeval, divine wisdom that was revealed to ancient sages. Hermeticism remains influential within esoteric Christianity, particularly in the  Christian mystical tradition of Maartinism. The anonymously written 1967 French tome “Meditations on the Tarot”, later edited and published by Robert Powell in 1980, summarizes the theory and practices of Christian Hermeticism.

Best known for his allegorical portraits of such figures as Princess Diane, Durand’s mythologically inspired paintings are the foundation of his work. These pieces display his deep understanding of the rituals and myths of both Christian and Classical traditions. Influenced by Michelangelo, Rubens and Titian, Durand tries to unite his religion with his art; however, he approaches the subject with the objective and philosophical criteria of a Neo-modernist. 

In 1970 André Durand painted a series of images inspired by the dancers of the British Royal Ballet. His 1972 portrait of Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen, whose work often bears heavily on the psychology of its characters, is housed in London’s National Portrait Gallery. Durand  has also received international acclaim for his official portraits of Pope John Paul II and the fourteenth Dalai Lama.

In 2000, Durand became artist in residence at London’s Kingston Upon Thames University. A major exhibition in 2006, entitled “Durand Wholly Pictures” and which covered six years of work, was displayed in churches and cathedrals in the county of Sussex. These works depicted devotional Christian narratives set in traditional  Sussex landscapes. In November of 2007, André Durand produced his oil on linen “Daniel in the Lions’ Den”; the sale of the painting and its limited edition prints benefited the Demelza Hospice Care for Children, a charity in Kent that provides support to life-limited children and their families.

After his return to Italy, André Durand visited the commune of Torre del Greco in Naples and the coastal town of Sperlonga, known for its sculptures and Roman sea grotto at the Villa of Tiberius. At the invitation of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Sperlonga, he opened a studio at the museum as artist in residence for two years. From 2010 to 2012, Durand began a series of round formal paintings on the subject of the Stations of the Resurrection, many of which contain the Grotto of Tiberius in the background.

Durand published several art photography volumes of his work in 2012. Most notable among them is the “Fotograf ando Statue per Anno”, an image collection of the statuary in Sperlonga’s National Archeological Museum. Containing text co-written by the museum’s director Marisa de’Spagnolls, this volume of sculptural work is the only comprehensive photographic archive of the museum’s collection. 

André Durand’s work has been featured in many solo exhibitions in Italy and England. These include, among others, “Frammenti Classici” in 1995 at London’s Archeus Fine Art; the 2000 “Soggetti Italianizzati” at the Galleria Albemarle in London; and “Via Lucis e Lagrime di San Pietro” at Galleria Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Durand’s work is in many private collections and the permanent collections of the Scottish National Gallery and London’s National Portrait Gallery. He currently lives and works in Sperlonga, Italy.

Images of André Durand’s work, a manifesto on Neo-modernism, enquiries for commissions, and contact information can be found at the artist’s site:

Second Insert Image: André Durand, “Saint Christopher Cynocephalus”, 2010, “Sacred” Series, Oil on Linen, 167.5 x 112 cm

Third Insert Image: André Durand, “Narcissus”, 2001, “Mythology” Series, Oil on Linen, 61 x 48 cm, Private Collection, Rome

Bottom Insert Image: André Durand, “Giordano Bruno Burning”, 2000, “Profane” Series, Oil on Linen, 203.2 x 167.6 cm

Michele Giambono

Michele Giambono, “Man of Sorrows”, ca  1420-1430, Tempera and Gold on Wood Panel,  47 x 31.1 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Born in Venice circa 1400, Michele Taddeo di Giovanni Bono, known as Giambono, was an Italian painter whose work reflected the International Gothic style with a Venetian influence. There are no known portraits of Michele Giambono and very little is known of his personal life, except for knowledge of a marriage in 1420 and his death circa 1462 in Venice.

Giambono was active as an artist between the years 1420 and 1462. He was influenced by the works of Jacobello del Fiore, a Late-Gothic style painter whose mature work displayed a local Venetian style;  Gentile da Fabriano, a painter of altarpieces and frescoes, whose 1423 “Adoration of the Magi” is regarded as one of the masterpieces of the international Gothic style; and Antonio di Puccio Pisanello, one of the most distinguished fresco painters and medalists of the early Italian Renaissance. 

Michele Giambono is known for his mosaic designs in the Mascoli Chapel of San Marco in Venice. In the left vault of the chapel, two elaborately decorated mosaics depict the Birth, the Presentation at the Temple, and the Annunciation. On the right side of the chapel, the life of the Virgin is continued with the Visitation and the Death, or Dormitio Virginis. The architectural elements in the mosaics are triangular in shape, slightly askew with rounded arches of Corinthian and Florentine style.

The paintings attributed to Giambono include “St. Chrysogonus on Horseback”, circa 1450, done in the International Gothic Style with suggested movement and gilded highlights; “Virgin and Child”, located at Galleria Franchetti in Venice and completed circa 1450, a painting by which Giambono became one of the first Italian artists to use iconographic images in a Christian context; “Portrait of a Man”, a tempera and silver on wood panel painting,  which is one of very few surviving early fifteenth-century Venetian portraits; and the five panel “Polyptych of Saint James”, located at Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

Michele Giambono’s small, tempera and gold on wood panel painting, “The Man of Sorrows”, is one of his earliest known works, executed between 1420 and 1430. The central, well-rendered figure of Jesus was conceived as a focus for meditation. He is depicted upright in his tomb, his hands extended to display his wounds, and his  blood and crown of thorns rendered in relief. A diminutive Saint Francis , standing on the left, receives the Stigmata and becomes a surrogate for the viewer. Elaborately framed, with the reverse painted to imitate porphyry, a stone with imperial associations, the painting would have been a precious object of devotion, perhaps for a Franciscan friar. The pattern on the deteriorated background derives from Islamic textiles.

Note: The International Gothic is a period of Gothic art which began in Burgundy, France and northern Italy in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth-century. It then spread rapidly through Western Europe, although, most of the style’s development occurred in Italy. Initially a style of the courts of nobility, it gradually spread, becoming more robust in appearance, to the mercantile classes and lower nobility. Artwork of the period is known by the use of light, bright colors and especially gold in panel paintings, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, and polychromed sculptures. Stylistic features included a dignified elegance, a more practiced use of perspective in the modeling and setting, and an attention to realistic detail in plants and animals. 

Top Insert Image: Michele Giambono, “Virgin and Child Enthroned”, circa 1440-1450, Tempera and Gold on Linden Wood, 121.5 x 56.5 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Bottom Insert Image: Michele Giambono, ‘San Grisógono a Caballo”, circa 1450, Oil on Panel, 199 x 134 cm, Venice


Francesco Mochi

Francesco Mochi, “Saint Veronica”, 1629, Marble, 500 cm, Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City

One of the most individual sculptors of his age, Francesco Mochi was born in July of 1580 at Montevarchi, Italy. His initial training was with Santi di Tito, one of the most influential painters of the fundamental Baroque style. Mochi also studied under Mannerist sculptor Giambologna, who exposed him to pictorial clarity and the importance of ability and design in drawing. Mochi moved to Rome circa 1599 and trained in the studio of sculptor Camillo Mariani, whose work in Venice and Rome formed a base for the Baroque style of the seventeenth century.

Francesco Mochi worked in many of the thriving cities of central Italy, including Florence, Rome, Piacenza, and Orvieto. His early career was aided by the powerful Farnese family who brought him many commissions. Mochi worked with sculptor Stefano Maderno on the papal commission for the Cappella Paoline in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, where his travertine sculpture “Saint Matthew and the Angel” now resides. 

Mochi’s first major work was the dual-statue composition “Annunciation of the Virgin by the Angel”, which he completed in full by 1608. The polished smoothness of the marble surfaces and the audacity of Mochi’s composition is considered to have signaled the end point of Mannerism and the rise of the Baroque period. In the period between 1612 and 1620, Mochi created two works, commissioned by the Farnese family, consisting of monumental bronze equestrian statues of Ranuccio and Alessandro Farnese, both Dukes of Parma, which were erected in Piazza Cavalli in Piacenza. 

The statue of Ranuccio Farnese, executed first, is linked in style and type to earlier Renaissance models that depicted the rider as peacemaker and statesman, for example Giambologna’s Cosimo de’ Medici. However, in the statue of Alessandro Farnese, Francesco Mochi broke entirelynew ground to create the first dynamic equestrian monument of the Baroque. In an unprecedented manner, he used the device of a billowing cloak to unify the rider with the bulk of the horse and to create the illusion of warlike energy. During the casting, Mochi quarreled with the founder and took over the job himself; other than sculptor Domenico Guidi, he was the only major Roman sculptor with the expertise to cast his own work.

Finished with the equestrian statues, Francesco Mochi returned in 1629 to Rome, which was now dominated by the exuberant Baroque style of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was fully in charge of major commissions. Mochi, whose work was no longer fashionable, was becoming increasingly bitter and disappointed as the number of commissions he received decreased. One of the requests he did receive in this period was a commission for Pope Urban VIII, which was given to him by Bernini, to sculpt a statue which would be placed in one of the four niches at the crossing piers in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

One of the four larger-than-life sculptures in the crossing of the Basilica, “Saint Veronica” displaying the lost Veil of Veronica, executed between 1629-1632, is the best known masterpiece of Mochi’s work. Gian Bernini provided models for three of the statues but gave Mochi free-reign with the design for Saint Veronica. Influenced by Hellenistic sculpture, Mochi conceived the figure in strongly emotional terms: In agony, Saint Veronica holds the Veil, a lost relic of the Christ’s passion, in trembling outstretched hands. Spiraling, thin, drapery folds create an illusion of motion, as though the figure is rushing from the niche in an effort to present the viewer with the miraculous imprint of Christ’s countenance upon the veil. 

Compared to the heroic calm of the figures designed by Gian Bernini, especially his design for the statue of Saint Longinus, Francesco Mochi’s work, both original and audacious, received much criticism and, due to its excessive motion, was seen to be unsuitable and overstepping the decorum of the Basilica. More and more frequently after this criticism, Mochi lost commissions to Bernini and high-Baroque sculptor Alessandro Algardi, and even had planned commissions rescinded or his finished work rejected by the patrons. Seen by his contemporaries as being a difficult and bitter man, Francesco Mochi died on the 6th of February in 1654.

Top Insert Image: Francesco Mochi, “Saint Veronica”, 1629, Detail, Marble, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy

Middle Insert Image: Francesco Mochi, “Bust of a Youth”, 1630s, Marble on Variegated Black Marble Socle, 40.5 x 33 x 29 cm, Art Institute of Chicago

Bottom Insert Image: Francesco Mochi, “Angel of Annunciation”, 1603-1609, Marble, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Orvieto, Italy

Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio

Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio, “Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy”, c. 1594-1595, Oil on Canvas, 92.5 x 127.8 cm, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut

While most other Italian artists of his time followed the conventions of late Mannerist painting, Caravaggio painted the Biblical stories as dramas, staging the events of the sacred past as if they were contemporary, often working from live models whom he depicted in starkly modern dress. He also developed a highly original form of chiaroscuro, using extreme contrasts of light and dark to emphasize details of gesture or facial expression, a style that greatly influenced later artists.

“Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy” was the first of Caravaggio’s religious canvasses. Completed between 1594 and 1595, it was presumably painted as a commission from Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, a diplomat and art connoisseur during the reign of Pope Sixtus V, and executed during the time that Caravaggio was living in Palazzo Madama, the home of Cardinal Del Monte.

The painting is based on the story told by Brother Leo, secretary and confessor to Saint Francis of Assisi. In the story, Francis retired in 1224 to the wilderness with a small group of his followers  to contemplate God. At night on the mountainside, Brother Leo saw a winged seraph, one of the higher Orders of angels, come down amidst dazzling light as a fiery figure nailed to a cross of fire.

From the seraph’s wounds in its heart, hands and feet came streams of fire and blood, which pierced the hands and feet of Francis with nails and stabbed his heart with a lance. As Francis shouted, the fiery image merged into his body; Francis sank down unconscious in his blood with the wounds of the Stigmata on his body.

In Caravaggio’s “Saint Francis”, the violent confrontation described by Brother Leo is not depicted. Instead, a gentle angel, larger than the unconscious saint, is shown holding Francis, while Francis’ followers are seen dimly in the darkness of the painting’s mid-ground. 

Caravaggio’s version of this 13th century subject is more intimate than Giotto di Bondone’s 1297 “Stigmatization of Saint Francis” or Giovanni Bellini’s 1480 “Saint Francis in the Desert” with its rocky landscape. Caravaggio’s work shows no sign of blood or the Stigmata, just a wound shown in the Franciscan robe of the saint. Francis rests peacefully in the arms of a boyish figure wearing a white robe and golden wings; both figures lit by Caravaggio through a chiaroscuro effect.

Note: An interesting read is “Caravaggio’s Secrets” by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit by The Mit Press. An excerpt from the book, Chapter One, “Sexy Secrets”, can be found at:

Saint Irene Nursing Saint Sebastian

Artist Unknown (Florentine School), “Saint Irene Nursing Saint Sebastian”, 1600s, Oil on Canvas, 99 x 123 cm, Private Collection

“Saint Irene Nursing Saint Sebastian” is an incident in the legends of Saint Sebastian and of Saint Irene of Rome. It was not a prominent theme in the biographical literature of the saints until the latter years of the Renaissance. It became popular as a painting theme after 1610, eventually becoming a frequent subject until about the 1670s. By the 18th century, the subject became still less common, with the figure of Saint Irene being replaced by an angel.

In his biographical stories, Saint Sebastian survives his first “martyrdom” by a multitude of arrows during Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. He was, according to tradition, untied from the tree, or post, and his wounds treated by Saint Irene, an active Christian in Rome, whose husband had previously been executed. Saint Sebastian, later in life, undergoes his second “martyrdom”, this time suffering fatal injuries by thrown stones.

The scenes of Saint Irene tending to Sebastian are often shown taking place in darkness, typically in one of the catacombs of Rome, which was the subject of archeological examination in the early 1600s. Baroque artists often painted the scene as nocturnal, with illumination provided by a lantern, torch or candle, in the chiaroscuro style, an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly or from a particular direction.

Saint Sebastian’s death is firmly located in Rome, where he was the third patron saint, with churches dedicated to him built on the legend’s locations of events. The Saint Sebastian and Saint Irene scene is found as an independent subject in the works of painters Georges de La Tour, Jusepe de Ribera, and Trophime Bigot. Although the subject was mainly painted by Italian artists, the scene were also painted by a number of artists from the Netherlands, including Hendrick ter Brugghen, a follower of Caravaggio, and Mannerist painter Joachim Wtewael.

Shah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran

Interior of the Dome at Shah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran

After the introduction of domes into then Islamic architectural designs  by Arabs during the 7th century, domes appeared frequently in the architecture of mosques. The Persians had constructed such domes for centuries before, and some of the earliest known examples of large-scale domes in the World are found in Iran. So, the Safavid Muslims, who ruled from 1501 to 1722, borrowed heavily from pre-Islamic knowledge in dome-building, that is the use of squinches to create a transition from an octagonal structure, into a circular dome. To cover up these transition zones, the Persians built rich networks of stalactites. Thus, came also the introduction of this feature into Persian mosques.

Orthodox Calendar

OC (Orthodox Calendar)

OC (Orthodox Calendar) is the title of wall calendars and videos first published in 2012, featuring nude and semi-nude photographs of members of the Orthodox Church. The calendar is the brainchild of a group composed mostly of Orthodox eastern Europeans of the former communist region. The primary goal was to create the very first organized global effort against homophobia in the Orthodox Region. At the same time, the calendar takes an ironic approach to the Orthodox Church itself, which in recent years has been embroiled in artist repression, questionable behavior and homophobia.

Through their unconventional and bold images, OC’s creative Team seeks to counteract the negative and outdated influences of most of the Orthodox Church leadership. While recognizing that change might not come quickly to the official Orthodox Church position, OC nonetheless believes that at least it can encourage people (believers or not) to reflect and realize that there is an urgent need for an update in values as part of the modern society.

Additional information can be found at the site:

Carlo Crivelli

Carlo Crivelli, “Saint Stephen”, 1476, Tempera and Gilding on Panel, national Gallery, London

Carlo Crivelli painted in tempera only, despite the increasing popularity of oil painting during his lifetime, and on panels, though some of his paintings have since been transfered to canvas. His predilection for decoratively punched gilded backgrounds is one of the marks of this conservative taste, in part imposed by his patrons. Of his early polyptychs, only one, the altarpiece from Ascoli Piceno, survives in its entirety in its original frame. All the others have been disassembled and their panels and predella scenes are divided among several museums.

This panel showing Saint Stephen is part of the large “Demidoff Altarpiece” made for the high altar of San Domenico in Ascoli Piceno, east-central Italy.

Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He was a lay assistant to the priest of the first Christian community in 1st-century Palestine and was responsible for a daily distribution of food to the poor. Accused of blasphemy against Moses and God, he was tried by a religious council. As he spoke in defence of his belief in Christ as the Messiah, those watching him saw the face of an angel. Enraged, the council stopped the trial and took him out of the city where he was stoned to death.

Tribal Ritual Eshu

Tribal Ritual Eshu, Date Unknown, Wood and Seeds, Yoruba Tribe, Nigeria

An Orisha is a spirit who reflects one of the subordinate manifestations of the supreme deity. The Orisha are said to have previously existed in the spirit world or as human beings, recognized as deities upon their deaths due to extraordinary feats on Earth.

Eshu partially serves as an alternate name for Eleggua, the messenger for all Orishas. There are 256 paths to Eleggua—each one of which is an Eshu. It is believed that Eshu is an Orisha similar to Elugga, but there are only 101 paths to Eshu according to ocha, rather than the 256 paths to Eleggua according to Ifá. Eshu is known as the “Father who gave birth to Ogboni”, and is also thought to be agile and always willing to rise to a challenge.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 1st of July

Sitting with Clasped Hands

July 1, 1535 is the starting day of the trial of Sir Thomas More.

Thomas More began his studies at Oxford University in 1492, at the age of fourteen, receiving a classical education and becoming proficient in both Latin and Greek. At his father’s insistence he left Oxford after two years to study law at New Inn, a place of initial training for barristers. More became a student in 1496 at Lincoln’s Inn, a professional association for barristers, until 1502 when he was deemed qualified as a barrister.

Thomas More lived for a year near the Carthusian Monastery, joined the monks’ spiritual exercised and contemplated joining the order. However, he decided to remain a layman, standing instead for election to a position in Parliament in 1504 and marrying Jane Colt the following year.  More was elected to Parliament to represent Great Yarmouth, a coastal area in Western England, and later elected in 1510 to represent London.

Thomas More was knighted and made under-treasurer of the Exchequer in 1521, becoming increasingly influential as a personal advisor to King Henry VIII. More succeeded to the office of Lord Chancellor in 1529 when that post became vacant. He strongly supported the Catholic Church and saw the Protestant Reformation as heresy and a threat to the church, particularly the theology of Martin Luther and William Tydale.

More opposed King Henry VIII’s separation from the Catholic Church: he refused to acknowledge King Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church of England, Henry VIII established the church after Pope Paul III had excommunicated the king over his divorce from his wife Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy to Henry as required, Thomas More was put on trial for treason.

More was an experienced judge and lawyer who had prepared himself for his final trial over several years. At this trial, he was determined to bring all of his experience and training to bear—to defend not only himself and his family, but also his country, his church, the English tradition of law, and the future of Christendom.

On July 1, 1535, he appeared before fifteen judges and twelve jurors. Despite the impressive numbers, however, this trial was not to be impartial. Thomas More aptly discredited all of the government’s evidence and established the credibility of his own character. The total lack of viable evidence against More proved to be totally irrelevant. The jury took only fifteen minutes to render its verdict: “Guilty.” He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered; but the King commuted this to execution by decapitation. The execution took place on 6 July 1535.

Jakob Bohme

Jakob Bohme, “Theosphische Wercke (Theosophical Work)”, 1682, Amsterdam

Jakob Bohme was a German mystic, philosopher and Christian theosophist. His influence was evident in Germany, the Netherlands and England, as well as in Sweden and Finland. Among the Quakers in the United States, he also found enthusiastic followers. In 1682, fifty-eight years after his death,  all of his works were published together for the first time. This image illustrates the wheel of properties of the seven planets.

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, Date Unknown, Location Unknown

“Two things are to be practiced on the level of relative bodhichitta: meditation on the equality of self and other, and meditation on the exchange of self and other. Without training in the former, the latter is impossible. This is why Shāntideva says that we should first meditate strenuously on equality of self and other; for without it, a perfectly pure altruistic attitude cannot arise. All beings, ourselves included, are in exactly the same predicament of wanting to be happy and not wanting to suffer. For this reason we must vigorously train in ways to develop the intention to protect others as much as ourselves, creating happiness and dispelling suffering. We may think that this is impossible, but it isn’t.”
Śāntideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva 

Sonam Gyaitsen

Sonam Gyaitsen, “Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara”, Gilt Bronze, ca 1430, Jamchen Monastery, Tibet

The Lotus Sutra is generally accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokiteśvara. These are found in chapter 25. This chapter is devoted to Avalokiteśvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears the cries of sentient beings, and who works tirelessly to help those who call upon his name. A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokiteśvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings.

One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until he had freed all sentient beings from samsara, the wheel of birth and death. Despite strenuous effort, he realizes that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven pieces. Amitābha, the Celestial Buddha, seeing his plight, gives him eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara attempts to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitābha comes to his aid and invests him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 5th of March

The White Stetson

On March 5, 1616, Nicolaus Copernicus’s book “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” is added to the index of Forbidden Books by the Roman Catholic Church.

“On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” is the seminal work on the heliocentric (sun-centered) theory of the solar system by the Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. The book, first printed in 1543 in Nuremberg, offered an alternative model of the universe to Ptolemy’s geocentric system (earth-centered), which had been popular since ancient times.

Copernicus argued that the universe comprised eight spheres. The outermost consisted of motionless, fixed stars, with the Sun motionless at the center. The known planets revolved about the Sun, each in its own sphere, in the order: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. The Moon, however, revolved in its sphere around the Earth. What appeared to be the daily revolution of the Sun and fixed stars around the Earth was actually the Earth’s daily rotation on its own axis.

Very soon, Copernicus’ theory was attacked with Scripture and with the common Aristotelian proofs. In 1549 Melanchthon, Martin Luther’s principal lieutenant, wrote against Copernicus, pointing to the theory’s apparent conflict with Scripture and advocating that “severe measures” be taken to restrain the impiety of Copernicans. The works of Copernicus and Zúñiga—the latter for asserting that Copernicus’ book was compatible with Catholic faith—were placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of March 5, 1616 (more than 70 years after its publication).

Copernicus’ book was not formally banned but merely withdrawn from circulation, pending “corrections” that would clarify the theory’s status as hypothesis. Nine sentences that represented the heliocentric system as certain were to be omitted or changed. After these corrections were prepared and formally approved in 1620 the reading of the book was permitted. But the book was never reprinted with the changes and was available in Catholic jurisdictions only to suitably qualified scholars, by special request. It remained on the Index until 1758, whenPope Benedict XIV (1740–58) removed the uncorrected book from his revised Index.

Josh Bulriss

Josh Bulriss, “The Buddha Project”

Josh Bulriss  is traveling all across Asia in search of Buddhas, many of them lost or unknown to most visitors. Fascinated by Buddhism from his first trip to Asia ten years ago, Bulriss has built a strong fanbase for his art works and prints online, especially on social media Instagram where he has built a following of more than 33,000 people who find inspiration from his work, and Buddhist sayings he shares with them.

Now he’s back on the road for “The Buddha Project,” aiming to be the first photographer to capture a variety of Buddhas from across Asia. The collection will be produced in his first fine-art book.

The Buddha Project :