Dogs as Symbols of Courage and Honor

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The first time period I chose was early history. In this period, ancient Greeks and Romans had great impact on their society and also arts. Greeks pursued classical art which artists attempted to render human and animal forms realistically. Classical art describes later of this period in which many of artists tried to figure out their inspiration.

An article, The History of Sculpture, published from The New Book Knowledge, stated the fact of that artists in Rome studied the styles of sculpture and painting from the Greeks, and they transmitted Greek art to later periods. Classical art had influenced because of simplifies style, its human touch, and beauty. The function which was so important for Greek sculpture was to express honor gods and the surrounding. Temples had Statues or some parts which were carved to be statues. Greek shrines created the images of honor gods on their wall or ceiling. The people worshiped outdoors. While early western history used classical art, early eastern history, especially China, developed own religious art style on painting which grasps an emotion or atmosphere so as to catch the ‘rhythm’ of nature rather than just following tradition style reproducing the same appearance of nature.

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An example that I found is a sculpture from Greek named Kritios Boy made by unknow artist. This shows an early classical art’s feature which his body is almost straight. However, he is looking at right side slightly, and his right knee is forward compared to left knee. It is obvious that early classical art was changing the style to the next stage. My understanding of this sculpture is that to express the realistic human body represents an honor to the god and thankfulness to be the human.

Another example for early history is painting made in China. The time the painting was created was during a thriving economy of Tang dynasty by silk road. According to an article from Khan Academy, in Chinese art history, painters did not have beautiful female figures in their depictions as the main character. Having stable political structure, developed economy and booming culture, the genre of beautiful women painting became famous and popular and made great achievement in the Tang dynasty. It describes how beautiful women in the painting should deal with ideals of beauty of women and the social traditions in the Tang dynasty. At the same time, social class is also revealed by this painting. I can feel that the artist’s courage to start a new style of painting. Two court ladies play with an adorable dog, one teasing it with a duster, but it seems just a model of honor or to be vain.

The second time period I chose is Middle Ages. Hunting dogs are seldom seen depicted in art, but very often in the highest social class of that society created the art with them. Dog’s expressions were discovered in heraldry. In monarchies, the aristocracy are a class of people who either possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch or are related to such people, and thanks to the specific connection of the aristocrats with the hunting dogs, dogs were often shown as symbols in heraldry because they have courage. Breeds preferences were differed in occasions by having charges and sponsors in various coats of arms.

An example of Middle Ages is Coats of Arms of the House of Tudor. Each of the design element of it means something, from the colors used and the different types of dividing lines, borders, sections. Animals, such as deer and lions, were frequently used, but dogs were also part of the visual lexicon as emblems of courage in heraldry. An article published from National Purebred Dog Day mentioned that they were sometimes associated with watchdogs which against the devil, and they were also the symbol of a skilled hunter. Since the dog’s ancestors were wolf and fox, some specific breeds were used for heraldry. The Spaniels, Mastiff, Greyhound, and seldom, terriers. The family coat of arms belongs to the House of Tudor, the shield held up and protected by a Greyhound and a dragon.

In conclusion, courage and honor were the theme characterized in some of time periods such as early history of western tradition and eastern tradition and Middle Ages. In the early western history, courage and honor were represented to be a man sculpture by expressing to the God. In the early Chinese history, courage and honor changed the form to be painting on silk canvas during prosperity of dynasty. Finally, coats of arms of the House of Tudor absolutely characterized courage and honor by having hunting dog as their symbol. Courage and honor give an image that someone or something that are strong, but, at the same time, it is so important to understand that there is background related to social class and remember what comes the next if the social class ranged really wide; tragedy. It is good to go over the art works related to courage and honor to remind what happen in the history and stop repeating the failure.

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