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By Titus Burckhardt

This interesting edited number of paintings historian Titus Burckhardt's most vital writings on Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist artwork is lavishly illustrated with a hundred and forty brilliant examples of Oriental artwork, structure, statuary, and portray.

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For instance, the Osages, a tribe of the plains of North America, look upon the ritual arrangement of their camp as “the form and the spirit of a perfect man” who faces the East in times of peace; “. . ”25 The important thing is that the encampment, arranged in a “camp-circle”, is a picture of the whole cosmos: the half of the tribe which is situated to the Northward represents Heaven, while the other half living on the South side symbolizes the Earth. The fact that the ritual bounds of the area are in this case in the shape of a circle and not, as in the case of a temple, a square or a rectangle, is explained by the “style” of the nomadic life, and in no way invalidates the analogy in question.

Mandalas of nine and of four divisions There are two mandalas that are specially favored for the symbolical plan of the temple, one with 64 lesser squares and one with 81. It should be noted that the numbers 64 and 81 are sub-multiples of the fundamental cyclical number 25,920, the number of years comprised in a complete precession of the equinoxes: 64 x 81 x 5 = 25,920. The factor 5 corresponds to the cycle of five lunar-solar years (samvatsara). The precession of the equinoxes is the ultimate measure of the cosmos, and in itself it is only measurable in terms of lesser cycles.

Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, 11th century 32 Foundations of Oriental Art & Symbolism Most modern constructions on the contrary can show only a purely “additive” unity, while they present a regularity in their detail that is “inhuman”—because it is apparently absolute—as if it were a question, not of “reproducing” the transcendent model using the means available to man, but of “replacing” it by a sort of magic copy in complete conformity with it, which implies a Luciferian confusion between the material form and the ideal or “abstract” form.

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