The Museum der Kulturen Basel and the Kunstmuseum Basel have joined forces to explore a large and diverse theme in two exhibitions: the shaping of the world by man. The Kunstmuseum focuses on the human spirit and its religious achievement in interpreting the world.
European and non-European objects from both museums come together in four chapters. A Hindu creation myth of battling gods and demons is juxtaposed with the ancient Titanomachy; a Balinese cult device that shows the way to the soul encounters devils who contractually claim the soul of a dying man; Tibetan scroll paintings hold out the prospect of entry into one of several paradises, while the Olympian gods make the mortal psyche their equal. As popular as the approachable and accessible Hindu god Ganesha are Venus and Cupid in the Rococo, the divine representatives of beauty and love. Shiva shines as the best of all dancers, while the twelve-year-old Jesus amazes the scribes in the temple with his superhuman cleverness.
Finally, the divine sometimes shows itself indirectly or is literally conspicuous by its absence: Balinese Hindu temples present an empty throne to the temporarily lingering gods. The Jewish rite knows such a throne at circumcision; there it is reserved for the prophet Elijah. The God of the Old Testament, at the behest of Joshua, stops the sun and moon for a day without making an appearance himself. And on a large wing of the altar the Ten Commandments are worshipped by angels and saints; thus the Word of God is celebrated in God's place.
The selected objects, as well as the myths and cults behind them, encourage us to marvel at their phenomenal diversity and to consider their profound unity at the same time.
Note: This text was translated by machine translation software and not by a human translator. It may contain translation errors.