#2. Buddha Sometimes Appears as a Human Skeleton
When you hear the word "Buddha," chances are you probably think of something closer to this ...
... than this:
Another victim of Buddha dysmorphia.
And yet, throughout Asia, statues of Buddha as a starving near-corpse with sunken eyes and a protruding ribcage absolutely abound in public spaces as they relieve people's bowels of their material possessions.
"For true wisdom is only found in unremitting horror."
That's because the first image above that kinda looks like your roommate from freshman year is technically "a" Buddha, but not "the" Buddha you're thinking of. The title can refer to either the founder of the religion or anyone who has achieved enlightenment. The Laughing Buddha is the latter: His name is actually Budai, and he was a Chinese Zen monk who over time became co-opted by various Asian religions as the god of abundance and happiness.
By contrast, the historical Buddha was born 1,500 years before Budai, and the statues of him in a state of near-starvation depict the six years during which he pursued enlightenment through extreme asceticism.
Suphatthra China/iStock/Getty Images
Or "modeling," as it is known today.
The Gautama Buddha's excessive fasting might have left him near death, but it was thanks to him experiencing both extreme poverty and wealth (as he was born a prince) that he eventually formulated the "Middle Way," a kind of equilibrium in life that is fundamental to Buddhist teachings. So, it's actually kind of weird that artists would focus on the one part of Buddha's biography that's not representative of his teachings at all AND doubles as a Halloween decoration.
Luciano Mortula/Hemera/Getty Images
"I'm here to help neighborhood kids achieve enfrightenment."
Shit ... looking at it, it's not that hard to believe that some practitioners of Buddhism would over time get crazy ideas in their heads, like trying to mummify themselves alive:
Konstantin Kalishko/Hemera/Getty Images
What? This statue influenced something pants-shittingly terrifying?
#1. Many Depictions of Christ Are Sporting Holy Wood
Jaroslaw Baczewski/iStock/Getty Images
Have you ever drawn an oversized dick on one of the figures in your history book while bored during class? Don't feel too bad about it, because whatever you did has nothing on Renaissance artists who couldn't stop themselves from drawing giant erections on Jesus Christ himself:
Maerten van Heemskerck
"It's my cross to bare."
Quite popular in 16th century Netherlands and Germany, the Christ-with-an-erection motif existed for more than 300 years without anyone finding anything particularly weird about it.
"Christ has risen."
People apparently just looked at these paintings of their lord and savior in the middle of his own "passion" and decided, "Nope, nothing inappropriate about this at all." Then they went and died painfully of an infected cut at age 22 because, you know, the 16th century and all.
Even for a carpenter, that is a ridiculous amount of wood.
The celestial erection itself was always covered by a loincloth, but it left little to the imagination. Could it be a case of the artists attempting to be super-realistic and depicting a very real case of a postmortem woody? Actually, as with the touching of baby Jesus' package, Christ's morning glory ties to the whole idea of incarnation, and everyone is just too polite to call bullshit.
Lucas Cranach the Elder
There's more than one way to make wine.
However, unlike the baby Jesus depictions, this motif was sort of meant to be sexual, although in a less creepy way than it sounds. By focusing on the mortal Jesus' erection in his final hours, the artists were, in fact, saying that sexuality IS humanity and that it's nothing to be ashamed of, seeing as it became the last note Jesus Christ himself left this mortal plane on. We just sincerely hope that that "note" wasn't representative of all males back then, because our inferiority complexes are doing just fine completely on their own.
That's not the wind holding it up.
Related Reading: Just think of all the perverse trends hiding in these hidden works of art. There's gotta be something dirty going on with that $12 million pickled shark nobody gets to see. No amount of hidden filth will ever be as impressive as this liveable Lego house, but maybe we're biased. Ready for some more good old fashioned filthy jokes in ancient art? Follow this link.