Icons of World Religions

A study of cultures often extends into the underlying religions of the world, since many of the beliefs of the people are embedded in their art work and cultural icons.  Below is a brief survey of some of today’s religions. This is not an exhaustive list.

Choose two very different religions or philosophies from the selection below, that are NOT your religion. Avoid 2 of the same types, like two Christian or Islamic sects.

Anglicanism                                          20.  Mormon
Aztec                                                      21.  Native North American – Shamanism
Baha’i Faith                                            22.  Protestantism
Buddhism                                              23.  Russian Orthodox
Catholicism                                            24.  Safavid
Celtic                                                      25.  Scientology
Confucianism                                        26.  Shi-ite / Shi-a Muslim
Coptic                                                    27.  Shintoism
Druidism                                                28.  Sikhism
Ancient Egypt Polytheism                    29.  Sunni Muslim
Episcopalian                                            30.  Taoism / Daoism
Fatimide                                                  31.  Toltec
Greco-Roman Polytheism                    32.  Unitarianism
Greek Orthodox                                    33.  Viking / Norse Mythology
Hinduism                                                34.  Voudou
Jainism                                                    35.  Wicca
Judaism                                                  36.  Yoruba mythology
Lutheranism                                          37. Zoroastrianism
Research your religions and provide a contrasting summary in bullet point format.  Use relevant books; go beyond internet sites.

You could include:

Creation stories                                                                Symbols / icons

Time periods                                                                        Location, region

Central deity or deities, (prophets)                                  General belief system

# of followers today                                                        What happens after this life?

Major holidays, celebrations, festivals

-Explain and expand on these – purpose, traditions, when, why, how?

(not all holidays – one or two of the most important)

Sins or prohibited activities

Icons and their uses, meanings or significance

Avoid simple lists – expand and explain significant holidays or festivals. How and when are they celebrated? What rituals are associated with them?

A good paper includes editing down to relevant facts, not simply a restatement of everything found in your research.

Incorporate at least 3 pertinent images of iconography for each religion; more if necessary. Identify the significance and common use of each. What do they symbolize? (Churches and photographs of people are not motifs or icons.) Images should be incorporated into your text, not stand-alone images at the end. Images should be icons, not merely artifacts.

Your paper must conclude with an insightful page that is devoted to a relevant and revealing comparison and contrast of both religions. Include a personal statement that reveals a reflection or connection.

Include a comment on inclusivity, diversity and / or gender equality.

Cite several points for comparison.
This should ultimately include your own reasoned and rational point of view.
Add a personal statement or opinion. Perhaps compare them to your own religion
Be prepared to briefly discuss the most interesting part of your research in class!

Plagiarism includes the use of sentence fragments. Avoid the possibility of plagiarism. Synthesize and summarize your research in your own words.


3 – 5 images of motifs or icons associated with each religion – minimum of 6 iconic images

Images are large enough to be recognizable and identifiable

All images should be cited

Name and use of each icon

Meaning or significance of each icon

Images should be incorporated into and identified in your paper


Body of Paper – Content

Time period

Location, region

Central deity or deities, (prophets)

Major holidays, celebrations, festivals

General belief system


# of followers today                                                                                              _____/15


Compare and contrast paragraph

Proper compare and contrast of customs

Relevant, well thought out, rational conclusion (not just opinion)

Add a personal comment / perspective                                                    ______/10


Quality of Research (at least 50% books)

Explain uncommon terms, deities, practices

Bibliography  – at least 3 references                                                              _____/5



Bullet points for comparison, narrative for conclusion


Double spaced

Readability / style

Spell check, grammar, punctuation

Well organized, Rubric included                                                                    _____/5


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