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Ryan T. Shannon

Professor Kappeler

REL-1111 Eastern Religions

February 24, 2019

The importance of the Dayton Art Institute cannot be understated.

Sharing cultures and religions with everyone and anyone who would be

interested is what defines our City and our Country. When studying any religion

or culture it’s important to have an open mind and equally important to have a

place that makes artifacts and works of art accessible.

The Dayton Art Institute was founded in 1919 and is located near the

Great Miami River, overlooking downtown Dayton. The Patterson-Kettering

wing of Asian Art holds several pieces relating to the many Religions in Eastern

Asia. Amongst these pieces are those with ties to Buddhism, Hinduism, and

Jainism. A number of these items was donated by Mrs. Virginia W. Kettering,

the leading philanthropist and patron of the arts in Dayton, Ohio. Her collection

included many of the Buddhist busts and works of art. The Dayton Art Institute

would not be that same without her amazing donations.


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Buddhist pieces of art make up the majority of the Asian Art wing and

include busts of Shakyamuni Buddha from Thailand, Amitayus Buddha, a tablet

with one hundred Buddhas. Buddhism is one of the world’s oldest religions and

its followers can be found throughout most of Asia. Buddha, once known as

Siddhartha Gautama, was born the son of a prince. Buddhists believe that

Siddhartha was born from his mother’s side which would kill his mother. He was

raised in a life of luxury, not witnessing sickness, death, disease, or suffering

until he left the palace grounds to discover life for himself. These four passing

sights make up who Buddha would become, a guru that would teach

moderation above all else. It is believed that Buddha is not really dead and that

there is no permanent identity. There are many different images of Buddha

because the earliest images were made hundreds of years after his life on

Earth. Each culture has a different image of Buddha, typically in an image that

resembles themselves.

Jainism was represented as well in the form of a beautiful wooden shrine

from the 18th century. Jainism shares some aspects with both Buddhism and

Hinduism especially the tendencies toward nonviolence and austerity. Jainism

originates from India and the shrine showcases stylings from the country,

especially with the number of elephants carved into the wood.


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Hinduism is the dominant religion of India and is also well

represented at the Dayton Art Institute. Hinduism follows Brahman, who

is the Ultimate God, but can manifest itself in many forms, making up the

many other Gods followed in Hinduism. These beautiful sculptures at the

Dayton Art Institute include Parvati, Vaishnavi, Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi,

and Sarasvati. Vishnu is one of the most well knows of the Hindu Gods.

He is normally depicted with four arms and having blue skin. While

difficult to represent the color, the statue does show the four arms. In

each of his four hands, Vishnu holds an item. These items are a lotus

flower, mace, a conch, and a discus. The statue of Shiva and Parvati

shows the loving partnership between them, as they are said to be equal

and complementary partners. These statues show the human side of the

Gods in a way that makes them relatable.

The Dayton Art Institute does a miraculous job showcasing these

many religions and cultures. Luckily for today’s society, many of these

pieces were created with bronze and stone which allowed them to last

the test of time. These many pieces give insight into the lives of those

who lived such a long time ago. My trip to the Dayton Art Institute gave a

better understanding of these religions and cultures. These beautiful


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pieces from across the many eras represent a number of peoples, all who

have a story to tell in their own right. It is absolutely a trip worth taking if

you are even slightly interested in the religions and cultures of Eastern

Asia.
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Works Cited

http://www.daytonartinstitute.org/

https://www.daytonfoundation.org/vketteri.html

Molloy, Michael. “Experiencing the World’s Religions, Sixth Edition.”