The ‘ART’ of Persuasion

Recap

In the previous blog, Origin of ART, we discussed how art originated. Continuing in the

series, let`s try to see how art changed the way our society functioned & how humans changed the way they took art.

Development Demands Sacrifice

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It is very important to understand the context of this blog before we proceed. Why was there a need to develop the concept of God and why do we have rituals and religion today? What role did “art” play in bringing about this change?

To gain something, we have to sacrifice something in return. As agriculture developed, land was cleared to mark a proper boundary for field. Forests were cleared to build society, marking a clear difference between civilized and uncivilized communities. Relating to today’s world, we sacrifice money in exchange of food.

A small Experiment

What importance does art hold in our lives? Today, we have numerous products in the market to make “education” simpler.

Most of the readers of our last blog suggested adding more pictures with the blog. That, rather than being a mistake, was an experiment to suggest, that art has become an integral part of our ‘learning’. It is hard to think of books without visual support to understand the scene in a complete sense. But when did we realize the importance of art in education? Where do we trace the first usage?

Art and Religion

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Yogis in India had been practicing Yoga and Meditation since the time unknown. Some suggest that meditation helped them understand the core of worldly things, the so called ‘reality of life, and meaning of our existence’. But they also understood that not everyone had opened his/her thoughts to practice Yoga. But men had begun taking control of nature, under the name of development- building homes and treating land for agricultural usage, separating itself from ‘animals’. It became ever more important to keep them connected with the nature. This gave birth to the concept of rituals, which later became religion.

But how to make people follow those rituals?

What is the first ‘feeling’ that every animal, including man, is born with?

FEAR.

A child fears to be away from his/her mother, a mother fears for proper upbringing of her child, father fears for his/her future and so on. This feeling is not different in animals. In fact, anything new will bring out the fear first. Our Yogis understood this and used it to maintain balance between the nature and the developing world.

But how?

Look closely around you, we start our days with poojas, the owner offers prayers to Laxmi and Ghanpatibefore sitting on the counter. The doctor too, prays before heading to a major
surgery. Ever wondered, why?

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It is FEAR driving everything. And same was used by Yogis in the past to teach civilized men importance of being connected to nature and respect the same- offering prayers to Tulsi and other plants, cow being called mother, many God having animal figurine- all happen for the same reason. “Develop fear of God first, and then put God in everything”, was the only way rapid pulling down of forest could be controlled.

When art did became important?

Our kings in the past have used art in some or other way to make a big impact on it’s pupil. Here, came the concept of Symbols. Every King had a symbol of his own, which stated a story that the King wanted to pass on to his subjects. King Darius is considered to be the first of all the Kings to have understood the importance of Political Symbol. His symbol showed a warrior with a bow. Bow was considered the symbol of Power. When Darius showed the man with the Bow, he actually wanted to tell to his subject, that he held the ‘power’ in his hand. He also used art on the wall of his court, but not even single piece of art would show war or war fares. Instead, it showed a welcome gesture for the guests in the court. This helped him establish an image of the king who worked for his people.

Alexander the Great once had set a mission for himself to rule the whole world. But the biggest challenge for him was not to fight the Kings, but to maintain his rule over the people of the nations he defeated. How could Alexander win the confidence of people, whose king was either defeated or killed by him?

He soon found a way out, and he found it in ART.

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Alexander understood what influenced people to choose their leader. What qualities they looked for? How do they judge all such qualities in a person? He found that if he replaced the symbol on the coin, with his face, he could make a better and more powerful impression on people. He also made 100’s of copies of his images and erected them on the street, in his court and in the premises of his castle. His charismatic images made him win over the heart of many.

And it did work.

Art, Politics and Leaders

How our politicians use the imagery as a powerful tool to persuade people and build confidence is similar to how Alexander used in his time. But then it demanded a change when the message got very common.

It is now, not only the way you present yourself in the public through Art, but also, how you looked became ever more important. Let us take example from Indian mythology to understand it better.

Look at the way Rakshashas or Asuras are presented in the book or TV series, and the way Suras are. A sura, or in our case, we shall call him the hero, is presented with a calm and composed gesture on his face, lean figure with subtle dressing and tidy outfits and getups with a stance that throws confidence. Rakshashas, or the villains, are rather more deceiving to look at, with black skin tone, moustaches and free floating curly hairs, often possesses long and sharp nails and wide open eyes, casting a sense of fear in the prey (or, the general public). We need not mention who the hero or who the Rakshash is, even when there is no mention. Our mind is trained to put the correct nomenclature to the right figure.

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The same had been used by our politicians and celebrities. There are consultants today, to teach you the way to speak, a way to pose for the photo, a way to walk, just so that the right message is passed on to the public. In the world of high competition, it has become important for us to learn, what our leaders in the past had understood, the importance of ART in everything.

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