Yab-yum, Mount Sumeru and Dukkha

The series of works was inspired by one of the symbols in Buddhism that was often depicted as a male deity in sexual congress with his female consort which suggested the primitive union of wisdom and mercy. There are various misinterpretations of the symbolism outside of the world of Buddhism, and even those within the Buddhist masteries themselves have lacked the ability to confirm the interpretation of its actual significance. Nevertheless, the religion sometimes does remain the function of instructing mundane life. A unique symbol such as yab-yum, it has the instructing function as other kinds of philosophical ideas would have for our life. And this is the question that created the comparison between this Buddhist symbolism with a mortals’ daily sexual event. Therefore, these series of artworks becomes as a tangible form of a question in regards to; “is it sexualization of ritual or is it ritualization of sex?” 

Mount Sumeru:
Sumeru is the Sanskrit word in Buddhist cosmology which refers to the central world-mountain. According to the definition of the name for the mountain which means a wonderful, boundless and gigantic mountain with unquantifiable accumulation of kindness and virtue. Based on the explanation of Buddhist doctrine that there are an infinite number of worlds while each world has a central Sumeru mountain surrounded by other lots of mountains and oceans. To the Mount Sumeru, as human being we are the microscopic beings in the mountain. The conception is more simply between two ideas. One combination of the microscopic being versus Mount Sumeru, which is conveying that the smallest microscopic being could contain a gigantic Mount sumeru. This connotes all kinds of experiences everythings’appearance that was seen by the naked eyes. These are not the authentic reality of the things because the smallest thing could accommodate the largest thing. Either the mount sumeru or the microscopic beings are all metaphors. The most important thing to learn is that they are to instruct people to understand our ways of heart, mind, or ego. The awareness of “no difference between the essence of large and small” conveys the idea of unquantifiable Buddhist wisdom is like a sumeru mountain, and the internal universe in our mind is just as small as a microscopic being but is capable to contain the unquantifiable wisdom-massively compact storage capacity. This work is presenting the concepts trough the linguistic system of art.

The Sanskrit word of suffering is Dukkha, which is one of the characteristics of all conditioned things. This word has a more comprehensive meaning than just suffering, the way that it is used in English. It also refers to incompleteness, imperfection, discontent, dissatisfaction and pain.  The work creates a visible incarnation for the concept of Dukkha through the use the allegorical figures and animals. The individual postures and interactions serve as visual representations of my interpretation of the various sufferings included in the religious idea of Dukkha. These are different kinds of sufferings that interpreted from my individual experiences.

                                                                     Xiao Yang


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Xiao Yang Artwork