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The word "religion" is derived from the Latin term religio, and although the actual meaning is in dispute, some scholars have tried to connect religio with other Latin terms such as relegere (to reread), relinquere (to relinquish), and religare (to relegate, to unite, to bind together). The terms religion and religious appear to be self-explanatory, yet they defy precise definition because they carry entirely different meanings for different people around the world.

The study of religion is difficult and sometimes controversial, but the major religions of the world can be roughly divided using a geographical model based on the premise that geographical regions evolved their religions through common threads.

Three main geographical regions usually are delineated as being India, the Far East (China and Japan), and the Near East. The Indian grouping includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, while the Far East religions include Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto. The main religions of the Near East are Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Baha'i.

Our religion collection contains photomicrographs of various items that commemorate the great religions around the world. From the Native Americans, who base their religion on a great respect for nature, we have a photomicrograph of tobacco that was used as a gift made to elder tribal members or by visitors. We have a wide spectrum of photos representing Christianity, including the spices Myrrh and Frankincense, and baptismal water.

Representing the religion of Hinduism we have a photomicrograph of incense, used as an offering at the temple. Commemorating Judaism, we have photos of tree fragrances, representing the planting of a tree in Israel to celebrate the life of a deceased person. Islam is represented by a photomicrograph of a ceramic tile, one of the "clean" materials that may be used to construct a mihrab. In addition we have used crystallites derived from the lotus blossom to represent Buddhism, saké (a rice wine) representing the Shintos, and wine to represent the ancient Greeks and Romans.

For those of you who want to visit the earlier version of our Religion Collection gallery you can still view that page by using this link.


Ancient Greek/Roman (Wine) - Wine was used as an offering to the gods for the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.

Australian Aboriginal People (Red Ochre) - Aboriginal people often anoint sacred relics with blood or red ochre and fat for use in rituals.

Aztec (Corn) - Corn, believed by Aztec farmers to contain many spirits, was a part of the religious Aztec planting ceremony.

Baha'i (Incense) - Followers of the Baha'i faith host a huge feast every 19 days, using incense to provide pleasant scents during this feast.

Buddhism (Lotus Blossom) - In Buddhist art, a lotus flower is often used to symbolize the Buddha.

Christianity (Baptismal Water) - Baptismal water used in the Baptist Protestant faith, a subdivision of Christianity.

Christianity (Bread) - Bread is also used in the Baptist Protestant faith.

Christianity (Frankincense) - Frankincense was one of the spices brought to the baby Jesus by wise men.

Christianity (Myrrh) - Myrrh was one of the spices brought to the baby Jesus by wise men.

Confucianism (Willow Tree Branch) - This tree branch is used in burial ceremonies to represent the soul of the deceased.

Hinduism (Rose Attar) - Different sects of the Hindu religion worship deities through household and temple offerings, such as Rose Attar.

Islam (Rose Water) - Rose water is used in Islamic rituals to cleanse the self prior to prayer.

Islam (Tile) - Tile is one of the "clean" materials that may be used to construct the mihrab, which indicates the direction of Mecca, a holy place.

Jainism (Cabbage) - The Jainism religion enforces very strict codes of vegetarianism as symbolized by our photomicrograph of cabbage extract.

Judaism (Fir Tree) - Jewish custom provides for the planting of a tree in Israel to commemorate the life of a deceased person.

Judaism (Oak Tree) - Jewish custom provides for the planting of a tree in Israel to commemorate the life of a deceased person.

Judaism (Palm Tree) - Jewish custom provides for the planting of a tree in Israel to commemorate the life of a deceased person.

Judaism (Pine Tree) - Jewish custom provides for the planting of a tree in Israel to commemorate the life of a deceased person.

Judaism (Sandalwood Tree) - Jewish custom provides for the planting of a tree in Israel to commemorate the life of a deceased person.

Native Americans (Tobacco) - Native Americans often made gifts of tobacco to elder tribe members by visitors or less senior members during meetings or tribal ceremonies.

Shinto (Saké) - During festivals called matsuri, food and drink (saké) is offered to the kami as a form of goodwill toward the spirits.

Shinto (Cherry Extract) - The essence of Shinto religion, kami, is a divine spirit found to be especially forceful in cherry blossoms, among other thing.

Shamanism (Pearl) - Shamans find a variety of substances useful in performing healing ceremonies.

Sikhs (Honey) - From the Sikh meaning for Amrit or nectar. It is sugar water that is used during the Khalsa initiation ceremony.

Taoism (Gold Metal) - Gold metal is one of the five parts of the sky in the Taoist faith: water, fire, wood, metal, and earth.

Zoroastrianism (Flowers) - The Afrinagan service, central to Zoroastrian public ceremonies, involves the sacred use of flowers.

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