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Iconoclasm

destruction of religious icons
Late 14th – early 15th-century icon.

Iconoclasm is the social belief in the importance of the destruction of usually religious icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons.

QuotesEdit

 
For Egypt, the greatest horror was the destruction or abduction of the cult images. In the eyes of the Israelites, the erection of images meant the destruction of divine presence; in the eyes of the Egyptians, this same effect was attained by the destruction of images. In Egypt, iconoclasm was the most terrible religious crime; in Israel, the most terrible religious crime was idolatry. In this respect Osarseph alias Akhenaten, the iconoclast, and the Golden Calf, the paragon of idolatry, correspond to each other inversely, and it is strange that Aaron could so easily avoid the role of the religious criminal. It is more than probable that these traditions evolved under mutual influence. In this respect, Moses and Akhenaten became, after all, closely related. ~ Jan Assmann
 
And not only Hezekias, but also Manasses, and Jehosaphat, and Josias, the best kings that were of the Jews, did pull down images in the time of their reign. ~ Thomas Cranmer
  • For Egypt, the greatest horror was the destruction or abduction of the cult images. In the eyes of the Israelites, the erection of images meant the destruction of divine presence; in the eyes of the Egyptians, this same effect was attained by the destruction of images. In Egypt, iconoclasm was the most terrible religious crime; in Israel, the most terrible religious crime was idolatry. In this respect Osarseph alias Akhenaten, the iconoclast, and the Golden Calf, the paragon of idolatry, correspond to each other inversely, and it is strange that Aaron could so easily avoid the role of the religious criminal. It is more than probable that these traditions evolved under mutual influence. In this respect, Moses and Akhenaten became, after all, closely related.
  • When we desire to lead men to God, we must not simply overthrow their idols. In each of these images we must seek to discover what divine quality he who carved it sought.
  • Now forasmuch, good children, as images be neither necessary nor profitable in our churches and temples, nor were not used at the beginning in Christ's nor the Apostles' time, nor many years after, and that at length they were brought in by bishops of Rome, maugre emperors' teeth; and seeing also, that they be very slanderous to Christ's religion, for by them the name of God is blasphemed among the infidels, Turks, and Jews, which because of our images do call Christian religion, idolatry and worshiping of images: and for as much also, as they have been so wonderfully abused within this realm to the high contumely and dishonor of God, and have been great cause of blindness and of much contention among the King's Majesty's loving subjects and are like so to be still, if they should remain: and chiefly seeing God's word speaketh so much against them, you may hereby right well consider what great causes and ground the King's Majesty had to take them away within his realm, following here in the example of the godly King Hezekias, who brake down the brazen serpent, when he saw it worshiped, and was therefore praised of God, notwithstanding at the first the same was made and set up by God's commandment, and was not only a remembrance of God's benefits, before received, but also a figure of Christ to come. And not only Hezekias, but also Manasses, and Jehosaphat, and Josias, the best kings that were of the Jews, did pull down images in the time of their reign.
  • “At least from 1540 onwards,” writes Dr. T. R. de Souza “and in the island of Goa before that year, all the Hindu idols had been annihilated or had disappeared, all the temples had been destroyed and their sites and building materials were in most cases utilised to erect new Christian churches and chapels.
    • M. D. David (ed.), Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity, Bombay, 1988, p. 17. Quoted in S.R. Goel: History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • Aurangzeb cared nothing for art, destroyed its "heathen" monuments with coarse bigotry, and fought, through a reign of half a century, to eradicate from India almost all religions but his own. He issued orders to the provincial governors, and to his other subordinates, to raze to the ground all the temples of either Hindus or Christians, to smash every idol, and to close every Hindu school. In one year ( 1679-80) sixty-six temples were broken to pieces in Amber alone, sixty-three at Chitor, one hundred and twenty-three at Udaipur; and over the site of a Benares temple especially sacred to the Hindus he built, in deliberate insult, a Mohammedan mosque.
  • What avails, then, the folly of the painter, who from sinful love of gain depicts that which should not be depicted—that is, with his polluted hands he tries to fashion that which should only be believed in the heart and confessed with the mouth? He makes an image and calls it Christ.
    • Iconoclastic Conciliabulum, 754 AD, § 16, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, Volume XIV, P. Schaff, ed. (1900), p. 543
  • If anyone shall endeavor to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colors which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, let him be anathema!
    • Iconoclastic Conciliabulum, 754 AD, § 16, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series, Volume XIV, P. Schaff, ed. (1900), p. 546
  • Many strong temples which would have remained unshaken even by the trumpet blown on the Day of Judgment, were levelled with the ground when swept by the wind of Islam.
    • Amir Khusrow. About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Jhain (Rajasthan). Amir Khusrow in S.A.A. Rizvi, Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 160
  • The idols he saw amazed him… Next day he got those idols of gold smashed with stones. The pillars of wood were burnt down by his order… A cry rose from the temples as if a second Mahmud had taken birth.
    • Miftahu'l-Futuh by Amir Khusrow. About Sultan Jalalu’d -Din Khalji (AD 1290-1296) in Jhain (Rajasthan) Translated from the Hindi version by S.A.A. Rizvi included in Khalji Kalina Bharata, Aligarh, 1955, pp. 153-54.
  • So the temple of Somnath was made to bow towards the Holy Mecca; and as the temple lowered its head and jumped into the sea, you may say that the building first said its prayers and then had a bath…
    • Amir Khusrow Khazainu’l-Futuh. About Sultan ‘Alau’d-Din Khalji (AD 1296-1316) and his generals conquests in Somnath (Gujarat). Amir Khusrow , in Mohammed Habib's translation quoted by Jagdish Narayan Sarkar, The Art of War in Medieval India, New Delhi, 1964, pp. 286-87.
  • And, above all, don't let us forget India, the cradle of the human race, or at least of that part of it to which we belong, where first Mohammedans, and then Christians, were most cruelly infuriated against the adherents of the original faith of mankind. The destruction or disfigurement of the ancient temples and idols, a lamentable, mischievous and barbarous act, still bears witness to the monotheistic fury of the Mohammedans, carried on from Mahmud the Ghaznevid of cursed memory down to Aureng Zeb, the fratricide, whom the Portuguese Christians have zealously imitated by destruction of temples and the auto da fe of the inquisition at Goa.
  • Monotheistic religions alone furnish the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, heretical tribunals, that breaking of idols and destruction of images of the gods, that razing of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun 3,000 years: just because a jealous god had said, 'Thou shalt make no graven image.'
  • Not satisfied with this, after entering Peking, Lord Elgin ordered the burning of the Summer Palace `whose splendours' the conquerors themselves had `found it difficult to describe'. This action Elgin in his ignorance had imagined would impress the Oriental and leave a lasting fear of the European in the Chinese mind. By a strange process of reasoning, the Europeans have, throughout their relations with Asians, convinced themselves that acts of savagery and inhumanity will increase their prestige in the eyes of Asian people. ... The Elgins have been unfortunate in their historical imagination- — whether it be in respect of Greek marbles or Chinese palaces.
    • Panikkar, K. M. (1953). Asia and Western dominance, a survey of the Vasco da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498-1945, by K.M. Panikkar. London: G. Allen and Unwin.
  • We now realize that the destruction of the Bamian Buddhas itself was a loud warning signal to the world of far greater devastation that was on the way.
    • Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence across Time and Tradition, James K. Wellman, Jr.
  • The Sultan thus wrote respecting it: - "If any should wish to construct a building equal to this, he would not be able to do it without expending an hundred thousand, thousand red dinars, and it would occupy two hundred years even though the most experienced and able workmen were employed." The Sultan gave orders that all the temples should be burnt with naptha and fire, and levelled with the ground.
    • About Mahmud of Ghazni at Mathura. Kitãbul-Yamînî, in Elliot and Dowson, History of India as told by its own Historians, Vol. II, p.44-45

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