Frithjof Schuon of the Traditionalist School

Contributed by admin on August 24, 2021

Art refers essentially to the mystery of the veil: it is a veil made of the world and ourselves and it is thus placed between us and God, but it is transparent in the measure in which it is perfect and communicates to us what at the same time it dissimulates. Art is true, that is to say a transmitter of Essence, to the extent that it is sacred, and it is sacred, and thus a means of recollection and interiorization, to the extent that it is true.

– Frithjof Schuon


Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998) was an author of German acestry born in Basel, Switzerland. Schuon is widely recognised as one of the most influential scholars and teachers within the sphere of comparative religion.

With Rene Guenon and Ananda Coomaraswamy, Schuon is recognited as one of the major 20th century representatives of the ‘philosophia perennis’. Like them, he affirmed the reality of an absolute Principle – God – from which the universe emanates, and maintained that all divine revelations, despite their differences, possess a common essence: one and the same Truth.

A student in Basel, Frithjof Schuon was taught by Titus Burckhardt, the future author of ‘The Principles and Methods of Sacred Art’ and of the ‘Introduction to the Esoteric Doctrines of Islam’. From that moment on, Schuon became interested in the arts and civilizations of the East, in particular the painting of Japan. He reads and meditates on Plato, Eckhart, the Bhagavad-Gita.

In 1930-32, he worked in Paris as an art designer, while studying Arabic at the mosque in that city. He left his original Catholicism and became the disciple of Sheikh Al-Alawi, in Mostaganem. He initiated into the Sufi path, the tariqah al-Alawiyah.

Frithjof Schuon married Catherine Feer in 1949 and obtained Swiss nationality. Soon after, he discovers the Indians of North America, meets Thomas Yellowtail, a medicine man, an important leader in the Sun Dance. In 1959, and in 1963 Schuon stayed with the Crows and the Sioux, was adpoted by the Dakota tribe and their leader Red Cloud, received the names of Valiant Eagle and Resplendent Star.

It is in this context, and not through the lens of ‘cultural appropriation’ that the paintings of Schuon must be understood.

Schuon’s deep respect for the internal organic integrity of deep culture would make him the least likely personality to be interested in exploiting the sacred symbols of another culture.

It is worth bearing in mind that throughout history, it’s been the artists, storytellers, bards and wise people who bridge cultures because they can do so with a combination of knowledge and respect.

And it is they who can allow the ‘egregores’ – the deep spirits of cultures, to dialogue together. This is essential in the world.

It is through this intricate work of the wisdom keepers (and also through the innocence of children and those with pure intentions) that emnity can be healed past troubled histories, and peace can be strengthened between the worlds’ people.

When creating, man must project himself into matter in his ideal and spiritual personality, not in his state of fall, so that he may afterwards be able to repose his soul and his spirit in a framework that reminds him in a gentle and holy manner of what he must be.

– Frithjof Schuon

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