15 April 2008
Background for Lumbini (Buddha) Print
Mayadevi Temple, Lumbini, Nepal
A year ago when I first conceived of these prints about the birthplaces of three great religious prophets, I realized right away that I knew where both Jesus and Mohammed had been born, but I knew nothing about Buddha. After a bit of Google research, I found out that Buddha is said to have been born in Lumbini in present day Nepal.
Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, Lumbini during the Buddha's time was a beautiful garden full of green and shady Sal trees. According to Buddhist tradition, Mayadevi gave birth to the Buddha on her way to her parent's home in Devadaha in the month of May in the year 642 BC. Feeling the onset of labor pains, she grabbed hold of the branches of a sal tree and gave birth to Siddharta Gautama, the future Buddha. The Buddha is said to have announced, "This is my final rebirth" as he entered the world. Buddhist tradition also has it that he walked immediately after his birth and took seven steps, under each of which a lotus flower bloomed.
Next I searched for Lumbini using Google's satellite imagery, and I was stunned at what I saw:
As you can see, to this day the site is a large rectangular garden that's visible by satellite from very far away. At the center of the large circular area that you can see in the satellite photographs is the Mayadevi Temple, which enshrines the traditional site of the Buddha's birth. Looking at the maps, I was delighted by the geometry and prominence of the garden and the pinkish color of the land. This view of Lumbini set the design for all three maps - tall and vertical.