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Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Shanger, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Shanger

    Shanger
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    I've noticed this, in those pictures/paintings i see (not sure if they are old or new) but nearly always everyone has really light skin.

    examples

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There are many more of course, in India there are a lot of dark skinned people so why is it that IN GENERAL the artwork does not represent this?

    Has the artwork been altered by western influence (light/fair = beautiful) etc?
     
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  3. BhagatSingh

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    re: Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

    [​IMG]
    This is perhaps the only painting where Guru Gobind Singh ji with dark skin. AS with other artworks of Sobha Singh, even this one was copied 1000s of times by other artists and the beautiful skin tones and colours were changed to white.
     
  4. Shanger

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    re: Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

    Yeh there are a couple with darker tones, tho usually it's only the mogals haha.
     
  5. BhagatSingh

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    re: Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

    This mentality goes back thousands of years. Today its being kept alive in all sorts of media. The only to combat is through that media.

    Incidently, Mughals were actually fair skinned people. The word Mughal is persian for Mongol, and if you look up Mongols on Google. These are fair-skinned people, when compared to other Indians. Ironically, most Sikhs are darker than mongols and were darker than Mongols in the past.
     
  6. Seeker9

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    re: Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

    Does anyone think there could be a Jatt influence? I think there is a growing belief amongst some Jatts that they are not a caste but a race in their own right, descended from Indo-Scythian origins...
     
  7. BhagatSingh

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    re: Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

    I don't think its a jatt thing only.

    Look at this:
    [​IMG]

    You know Krishna, in Hindu mythology, is supposed to be dark skinned. More dark skinned than typical Indians, he is the colour of sham/evenining. Essentially he should look very African but this is a typical representation of him.
     
  8. Seeker9

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    re: Why Do Paintings from the Gurus' Times Show Everyone with Light Skin?

    True..but I guess there is also a different colour dimension with several depictions of the Hindu Deities isn't there..i.e they are blue!
     
  9. Seeker9

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    Quick Google reveals:
    Vishnu is depicted with a blue skin. The colour blue symbolises the infinite expansion of the blue sky and the blue ocean.

    Therefore all his incarnations including Krishna, are shown as such. In Hinduism, persons who have depth of character and the capacity to fight evil are depicted as blue skinned. ...

    "The theory of the blue coloring of Krishna goes to the fact that the Creator has given the maximum of blue to nature i.e. the sky, the oceans, the rivers and lakes. The deity who has the qualities of bravery, manliness, determination, the ability to deal with difficult situations, of stable mind and depth of character is represented as blue colored. Lord Krishna spent his life protecting humanity and destroying evil, hence he is colored blue."
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    I suggest there is more than one explanation for this.


    Most of the pictures we are looking at are 19th/20th Century depictions. By that time the prejudice in favor of light skin had firmed its grip on cultural notions and artistic imaginations of what is desirable.

    There are fair-skinned, light-eyed people in Northern India. The population genetics used to explain this are fairly complex and also controversial.

    Krishna is depicted as either Black or Blue depending on the sect of Hinduism.

    We do have access to contemporary images of the Gurus, painted during their lives, as well as ordinary Sikhs, which give greater accuracy in terms of historical details, compared to most pictures we are exposed to. And there are photographs from the era of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and his generals that can give us a fairly good sense of things.

    I am however not sure why we need to be all that concerned whether our Gurus are depicted, light or dark, because they live on today in the Shabad Guru.
     
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  11. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    all IMAGINATION...and Caveat is...Artists Impression ONLY !! Just like those absolutley heavenly advertisements for new housing developments...and the Note in very tiny print: All images/art is artists impression only " means DONT BE FOOLED BY all the greenery/beauty you SEE in the painting/advert....the HARSH REALITY may Shock YOU....and Yes the reality is shocking..instead of green trees and grass and shiny black metalled roads.... its almost always dusty pot holed tracks, hills of sand and mud and stumps of cut trees.cheerleadermotherlylove
     
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  12. Seeker9

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    Excellent point at the end...agree it's not really of any significance. Was interested to learn that there are more accurate representations out there...do you know where I could look? I will Google as well...
     
  13. BhagatSingh

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    I think for me the matter is not whether Guru Sahibs are shown light or dark skinned. The real problem is the psyche of people which produce such works. When you study their psyche, it reveals something disturbing, that there is a bias towards white skin, even among those who live in southern India.

    [​IMG]

    Check out this rare image of brown people. ;)
     
  14. Shanger

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    I was just curious, but your explanation of light skin favouring prejudice makes perfect sense. That is what I thought but I wasn't sure which paintings were newer and which were old.
     
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  15. spnadmin

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    shanger ji

    Well, all the pics you posted are mid to late 20th Century.
     
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  16. Ambarsaria

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    Shanger ji just some comments,

    There are many more of course, in India there are a lot of dark skinned people so why is it that IN GENERAL the artwork does not represent this?

    Art as we know is depiction of an artist's vision and a viewer's perception. So if an artist has a vision that is derived out of personal and/or commercial considerations, the art will show it. If an artist or writer etc., is paid by somebody to put the gurus or their writings in bad light, such artist will do that too with out of proportion limbs, hair, etc. If they want to do the opposite they will do handsome/pretty renditions.


    Bottomline, if an artist is depicting a handsome, peaceful, reflective person then they will try to bring the qualities out that best represent such.

    By the way, sales of "Fair and Lovely" and other bleaching creams are not on the decline in India.
    Has the artwork been altered by western influence (light/fair = beautiful) etc?
    Sure in the eye of the beholder beautiful/handsome is:

    • light/fair = beautiful/handsome
      • There is much more prevalence of such in the northern/western Indian and pakistani areas (heartland of Sikhism)
      • It needs least amount of paint too!
    • So are darker, black and albino colors in many parts of India/or the world
      • It is all relative
    Just some thoughts.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  17. Ambarsaria

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    Bhagat Singh ji everyone looked pretty much the same on those early Ektachrome film snaps, different shades of bricks.

    I met late Amjad Khan personally. He was much fairer than that picture and did not look like brick dust.

    Sat Sri Akal.peacesign
     
  18. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Bhagat Ji..that is a "Picture",,and pictures are composed of Chemicals, paper etc..in the olden days the Film would start with..Kodachrome..Colour by Kodak..Eastman Colour etc etc..processed at such and such Film Lab etc etc...heck even the Computer MONITORS, LCDs, Plasma Tvs etc etc of different manufacturers all have a different TINT on skin tones..when ever we enter a Electronic Hyperstore with hundreds of LCDs Plasma etc lined up like squares on the walls..and along alleyways...one cna see the vast differences between pictures....

    My personal take..IF anyone wants/desires to see the REAL Gurus..he/she should read the SGGS. THAT "PICTURE" is SELF POTRAIT of the GURU... by the GURU for US. ALL other are manufactured by Third Parties and all Third Parties have their own self "interests"...
     
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  19. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Do you think media will combat this prejudice? Just Switch on any Indian Channel and watch the women they show in TV commercials very fair skinned
    also very slim too.Gfs,wives and even mothers are now portrayed in this manner.
    I don't think 0.1 % of Indian men have these type of wives they show in TV commercials here Yet fair skinned beauties are their choice for the
    advertisements

    http://reviews.in.88db.com/index.php/movie/movie-news/5271-top-5-heroines-of-bollywood-2010

    The above is the list of top 5 heroines of bollywood Only 1 is not very fair all other are very fair.
     
  20. Ambarsaria

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    An artist's brush is an extension of an artist's hand working through artist's mind and the artist's vision of a painting. Artist's eyes working with the mind pick from the color palette and through hundreds/thousands of brush strokes a picture comes to be. There will be no way for a viewer to get into the psyche of an artist and every brush stroke behind the creation of a picture with many brush strokes hidden under other brush strokes.

    For me if an artist true to their vision creates something it s all good. It is art after all and only subject to different viewer interpretations while an artist will have just one interpretation.

    The prejudice or not is more in the person through ignorance and not knowing the artist's interpretation first hand.

    Artists create all kind of works and some may make some happy, make some sad, make some angry and make some glad.

    Same can be said about the painting of Mona Lisa as to why Leonardo da Vinci not pick a darker model, with different skin tone and facial expression.

    Art is art unless the artist describes the associated intent and reasons where then the intent and reasons can be assessed as to their basis.

    Sobha Singh ji, what a master. And from depiction of some of the more historic events the artistry of Kirpal Singh ji's is mind blowing and blood curdling. A quick reference below,
    http://www.sikh-heritage.co.uk/arts/KirpalSgh/Kirpal%20Singh.htm

    Some entries at the above site related more to religious paintings,


    Gurbux Singh Theathi
    Sobha Singh
    Kirpal Singh
    Gurdwara Mehdiana Sahib &Artist Iqbal Singh
    Devender Singh
    G.S.Sohan Singh
    Jarnail Singh

    Sat Sri Akal
     
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  21. Randip Singh

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    Just on a side note.

    Many of the Bedi's and Sodhi's I have met (the Guru's clans), tend to be fairly light skinned compared to the average Indian.
     
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