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Sky Arts
3 x 55 minutes
April 2020
Download and streaming only

Art of Faith II

Art of Faith II is a sumptuous high-definition visual experience exploring the architecture and art of Buddhism, Hinduism and Religions of the Tao presented and narrated by the broadcaster John McCarthy. The three 55-minute films travel the world visiting the greatest and most significant religious buildings, exploring how the passions and complexities of religious beliefs have been expressed in architecture.

Filmed for Sky Arts and looking back over the last 3000 years, the series provides an insight into how we have celebrated art through faith. With contributions from architects, scholars and worshippers, the films explain the buildings’ genesis, laying down the brush strokes of the sites’ design, whilst looking at the shared elements and contrasts between religions and the aesthetics of the places of worship.

Buddhism is a family of beliefs, derived from the teachings of Buddha who died around 400 BCE. The emperor Ashoka Maurya (who r.272-231BC) was responsible for the first large-scale stone art in India and he also redistributed the Buddha’s relics among (supposedly) 84,000 simple stupas (or solid memorial mounds containing relics) across his empire. It is from this act that Buddhist architecture and art springs.

In addition to offering an introduction to Buddhism, the documentary visits many locations including the Amaravati Monastery in Hemel Hempstead, England; the Great Stupa, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, India; an early Buddhist monastery carved out of rock in the Caves at Ajanta in Maharashtra, India; Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia; the largest wooden building in the world that houses a colossal bronze statue of the Buddha in Nara, Japan; the Puning Temple in Chengde, China; and Komyo-ji Temple in Shikoku, Japan. 

Hinduism has a history as complex as the stories of its many deities and the architecture of this religion serves as an excellent place to understand the meanings of the major gods and their myths. Often spectacular, compelling in their details, exquisite and sometimes strikingly erotic and sensual, locations visited in this film include the Kailasa Shiva Temple, Ellora in Deccan, India; the Temples of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, India; Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur and the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, India; Vijayanagara, Karnataka, India; and the world-famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Religions of the Tao examines the traditions of Taoism that include Shinto, Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion, which focus on the Tao, the origin and law of all things in the universe. History and meaning is explored via the sites of Mount Tai and the Temple of Confucius, Qufu in the Shandong province of China; Ise Jingu in Mie, Japan; Yongle Palace in Shanxi, China; the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan; the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China; and the Itsukushima Shrine near Hiroshima, Japan, with its iconic ‘floating’ Torri gate.

These religions and philosophies are less well known in the West in comparison to Buddhism and Hinduism and by exploring these places of worship, Religions of the Tao teases the similarities and differences, going so far as to explore the very boundaries of what a religion actually is.

Art of Faith II is available for download or streaming, as a series of three programmes or individually, or as part of the Art of Faith complete series.

 

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