SOUTH EAST ASIAN ART

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SEE ALSO    CULTURE    BUDDHISM    HINDUISM

SKIP TO    TRIBAL    JAVA    CAMBODIA

TRIBAL ART 2

General

Animism - 1. A primitive belief whereby natural phenomena, animate and inanimate things are held to possess an innate soul. 2. A theory of psychic concepts or of spiritual beings. 3. The hypothesis, first advanced by Pythagoras and Plato, of an immaterial force animating the universe. 4. An 18th century doctrine that viewed the soul as the vital principle and source of both the normal and the abnormal phenomena of life.

Illusionism - 1. Belief in or proclamation of a special personal enlightenment. 2. Illuminism. The principles and ideas of various groups of Illuminati.. Illuminist n.

Early centuries BC: China in touch with SE Asia, that is where dragon symbolism comes from. Christianity, Buddhism and Islam coming to SE Asia later through sea contact. Talked about Pacific themes continuing in SE Asia: Moi - great ancestors. New Zealand. NE Coast of America totem of Hyda, etc., ancestor poles. SE Asia influencing North America. Sir Raffeles rules somewhere. Alfonse de Albuquerque 1498. Komoto Island. Xavier, Portuguese discoverer and trader who traveled SE Asia and died in Malacca.

Ancestor worship: Ancestor is venerated as they have a living presence. Must be honored and respected.

Long boats of PNG and SE Asia are difficult to navigate. Twenty men needed to balance.

    Materials:

White pigment comes from lime. Red, orange, yellow, brown all come from iron (iron oxide), hematite?. Kaolin (and hematite?) is/are plant pigments and used for body art. It does not last. Green comes from copper or malachite. Blue from indigo which is a plant source, and which comes from Egypt, so also get it from cobalt and lapis lazuli.

    Textiles:

Painted bark cloth - inner bark of mulberry tree on Sulawesi, they use a stencil for the patterning. Bold patterning. Red dress. The white one is cotton, maybe used a print, block technique. Usually dye threads in advance. They do weaving as well on a loom.

warp - vertical
weft - horizontal
the shed is the space between the upper and lower warp threads and uses a heddle to push the weft thread through.

Ikat Weaving Tradition of Flores Island. Each thread dyed in several colors before woven. Resist dying on a resist frame. Dying sections of the thread so dye does not take in those sections, left white, or then dyed another color, after tying off the sections previously dyed. Some dyed with blood.

Double ikat extremely difficult. The horizontal threads are dyed "separately" as well. Only done in two places: Andhra Pradesh, India and Tenganan, a small village in Bali.

Batik thrives in Bali and Java. Imported cotton. This is a woman's art. Dips a hollow pen, a chanting, into hot bees wax and puts down lines which will resist dying, also stamp down sections of wax. Men are allowed to do the stamping.

Dayak Culture

Borneo. Borneo is divided into Kalimantan to the south which is governed by Indonesia and Sarawak to the north which is governed by Malaysia. There is also Sabah in the North-east and Brunei which is very small but very wealthy due to oil reserves.

Long houses built on stilts. Animals live underneath. Curved roofs.

Coffin boat. Winged warriors painted onto the coffins. Masks. Dayak and Nias cultures may be linked.

Slide: A funerary marker made of wood, 19th century most likely. Tribal didactic art. Beautiful curly q lines. Reminds of the cus-cus bird which eats fruit and is a symbol of headhunting. Symmetrical curves also seen in tattooing? see below

Slide: A staff made out of one piece adorned with a hornbill bird. Animistic art. (animated) The hornbill is a magical symbol with its prominent beak symbolizing power and fertility.

Slide: A burial box (bone box), for a secondary burial in Sarawak, of the Punam Tribe. We see curly curlicues (cus-cus). This is probably contemporary? After body has turned to bones in a coffin buried in the ground, a second, large celebration occurs in remembrance of the person's life. A buffalo is generally sacrificed and the extended family comes. This is a happy event.

Slide: Compound animal (more than one animal put together into one form).. Iban (Sea Dayak) in the National Museum, Singapore. Multiple curves.

Slide: A Melanau death ship, or ship of the dead. Also in the museum.

Slide: A guardian against evil spirits - Borneo, Kajaman tribe, another subdivision of the Dayak tribe.

A stylized hornbill - a death talisman, stylistically congruent curves, skulls down below, a European on his back, a local colonial official. Polychrome. Wildly confusing and full of drama.

Tattoo designs: bilateral symmetry, dark on light patterning, animism, pre Christian, Buddhist or Islam influences. Link to Peruvian and Easter Island and Burma.

Ancient Cyprus and Easter Island only known places with spiral writing.

Looked at a tomb pole, 19th century.

A shield, frontal face as from Dong-son drum.

Baby carrier, ranked in terms of prestige of the family. Crouched female figure indicated high position in tribe.

Batak Culture

People northern Sumatra. Tradition of metalwork, pounding of silver (repousse).

Steeply pitched houses, not simple post and lintel (vertical and horizontal) They involve bent bamboo diagonals, bent tension poles for tall proportions. Tension poles not used on Nias island. Buildings are colorful, red, yellow, black, white. Animal forms. Singha (lion) which is the hallmark of tribal architecture in Sumatra.

In class we saw a chief's staff. Ancestor's head at the top. Animals: snakes, hornbills, sinfha (lion), fish. Made of hardwood and coconut fiber. (Some birds feathers, wild pig hair, kiwi feathers in New Zealand look the same)

Shamanistic culture. Staff crushes an egg to divine the future. - animism.

Pustaha (from Sanskrit) bark pages of a magic book. Shamanic rules of black magic: how to grow tall, be wealthy. Recitation spells.

Masks - Toping (Toping masks in Java as well)

Toba Batak - the peoples on lake Toba, the ancestral origins of the Batak people, number more than one million. Proud people with great strength of personality. Adat Houses, sloping ones, big, no nails used. (Rumah adat) Gables made of woven bamboo.

Karo Batak -peoples not around the lake. More gentle, village streets at right corners. Silalanga village: prison under the chiefs house. 275 year old Kursi Batsu? chairs and table carved of stone. Court of law. One punishment, inflict a wound on the chest and pour orange juice and salt into it to rid the evil force. Or cut off head, collect the blood, head brought to the center table, rest remains on the block and is cut up into many pieces.

New building of a reliquary the bottom part of which for storing grain, bone in the smaller upper part. Not usual outside Batak to store grain and bones in same structure. Granary, miniature storage.

Buffalo head particular to Batak buildings. Usually thatched roof. Often used for rituals. Rope designs nailed on building in shape of lizard, crocodile or Naga - sacred serpent which lives under the ground, supernatural, respected. Don't dig a hole without being sure of a lack of presence of Naga. They live in earth and water. Invisible.

They are the great singers and musicians of SE Asia.

Minangkabau: Fullest development of architecture. Ship like. Beautifully curved roof. Non tribal buildings in Minangkabau, including a mosque and madrasa (Islamic school) effected by tribal architecture.

Sculpture is robust, angular, geometric.

Batak Pagar - a power figure - used in Borneo, Nias, etc.

The staff (mask) also called pagar.

Bejan-si mask - gule gule - a puppet also a pagar, has a spiritual power, mana. Puppet and man battle.

Chinese vessel with a Batak stopper with indwelling mana - a guri guri -  magic pot.

Nias Island

Slide: Warriors of the next world images. Maybe influenced the ways chiefs dress?

Near Sumatra. Megaliths. Ancestral, phallic. Carved volcanic stone. Similar to those in current homes of chiefs.

Main focus of village is on chief's home. Tall sloping roof. Some metal. Pitch of roof, steeple like, traditional, steep stairways to living space and chief's throne. Sculptures, galleries of art, storage of ancestral pieces. Remarkable head gear. Headpieces, multiplied to show ancestor's wisdom. Holding a cup for divination. In front of the house a high jumping stone to display a man's virility by jumping over it.

Cannibal past still in living memory.

Traditional costumes made of wood, boar's tusk (sign of valor and strength) coconut shell fiber, feathers, metal, dog's teeth.

Singha - lion. Ithy phallic - erect

Polished coconut shell necklace worn by men.

Sandalwood statue, blackened (shown in class). Europeans looking for sandalwood, aromatic oils.

        Sulawesi

1000 AD Sulawesi drum, elephants, peacocks, frogs

Torajaland - Tau Tau - ancestor figures placed into the cliff, forever. Tau tau means diminutive person, but the figures were often life-sized., an effigy, or a receptacle of the person who died. Older tau tau schematic and simplified, newer (10-20 years) are naturalistic and illuministic. Present day funeral in Torajaland, secondary burial, the tau-tau figure, very real, wearing real glasses and clothing. The woman riding with the tau tau is wearing makeup which makes her look a bit like a tau tau as well.

Penang, Malaysia

Photos of a clan house with figure of Confucius. (Logical path of good manners and good living. Ancestor worship.) Statue of Buddhist Guanyin - pure compassion and goodness, ultimate gentle welcome, female. Origins in India as Avalokiteshava, most compassionate Buddha, to be. Later schools of B. give rise to many male and female bodhisattvas. Avalokiteshava originally male, became female later. Guanyin is a form of Buddha, one in a  clan house. B. appeals to everyone, everyone can be saved, it costs nothing to go to a "temple".

Also saw a Malaysian piece of very light wood given to Dr. Bernier due to its bad mana and thinking crossing the Atlantic would dispel the bad mana. (electric, exchangeable, spiritual energy. Someone is in charge of mana)

Sundras Islands

South of Borneo/Sulawesi. A traditional drum suspended and struck for a gong sound, a call for rain. The top is a very linear mold of clay or stone carved with lines. After cast, lines are in relief, raised. Birds, fish, sun burst at center, triangle patters sometimes called butterflies.
 

CAMBODIA 1

There are five million people in Cambodia today. Pol-Pot the Khmer rouge killed over one million.

DONG SON

5th century BCE to 2nd century CE. First historical culture in SE Asia. Widespread on the mainland. and stretched out to the islands. Communal dwellings. Tattoos. Hunting practices. Animistic. Excel in metalwork. Repousse is the hammering of metal from the backside, possibly pounding into a mold.

Idiosyncrattic art including utensils, weapons, bowls, pots, ornaments of bone and shell, and especially magnificent bronzes. Dagger hilts in the form of human figures. Page 13 Rawson: Lamp bearer 4th - 2nd century BCE. 10''-12'' tall, lost wax method. Long antler extension in back? Hollow. And then a slide of a lamp 1st century CE.

Characteristic ornament of spirals, Greeek key-patterns, or concentric squares made of and mingled with parallel striations and rows of dots in relief. Chinese method of the negative mold - simplified and broadened version of the Warring States Period.

Thinly cast bronze (copper and tin) drums. Tin hard to come by. Imported from Borneo where there is lots of tin.

Slide: Drum from Burma. 3 feet tall and hollow. 1/8'' thick. No surviving molds. Must have been a solid mold with outer core into which bronze is poured and then spun on a wheel. Frog handles on top of drum. The center of the drum has a starburst. (But maybe the motion is inward?) It is a gong which when struck by a wooden stick makes a loud boom to call for rain. Animistic theme. Raised words and lines on the surface.
 

FUNAN

Rawson considers the end of the Funan and beginnings of the Chen La, when the capital was moved north, as the result of floods possibly, to Sambor and Sambor Prei Kuk as the greatest phase of pre-Angkor Khmer art and draws a stylistic unity from Funan to Chen La through the height of Angkor as archaic Greek sculpture as the foundation of classical.

The art was essentially religious - transcendent kingship. India supplied the pattern for their temples in the fifth century. Site Oc-eo.

Sixth century indian cave temples, "grotto-shrines", none survive. Stone rare in the delta. Prototype of the Cambodian temple is a wooden pavilion, standing on four squared-ff posts at the corners, with wooden architraves, door jambs and lintels...

First surviving statues are from the sixth century, from Phnom Da, the 'acropolis' of the Funan capital, Angkor Borei, under Rudravarman whose patron deity was Vishnu. Statues of Vaishnava, Harihara (Vishnu/Shiva combo) and Krishna performing one of his chief miracles: holding aloft in one hand the mountain Govardhana. Carved on both the back and front, often still in relief but deceptively so. Possible Romano-Hellenic influence. Page 28 Rawson.
 

CHEN LA

Sculptures of Indian Icons during the 6th-8th centuries are masterpieces, monumental, subtle, highly sophisticated, mature in style and unrivalled for sheer beauty anywhere in India. Not purely Indian, local. Attempts to identify with art in India has failed although seems more like western Indian art than eastern. Not imported.

Phases named after the major architectural sites: Sambor,  Prei Kmeng,  Prasat Andet, and  Kompong Preah. Declining into lesser exuberance.

Early Chen-La city of Sambor Prei Kuk has a group of surviving buildings. One holds a gold lingam, one Nandi (bull) shrine. Lintel, Rawson p. 24, early 7th century.

Prei Kmeng lintel Rawson p. 25. Late seventh century, sandstone.

Another site Han Chei has last of pre-Angkor phase: small, ornament pure foliage, pillars with diminished capitals, under the architraves some figurative pieces of iconography, fine relief sculpture which is the major art of the Funan/Chen-La epoch.

They continued the Funan style. Very ornamental. Use of the beasts, makaras to vomit forth ornament. India influence.

Buddhist Sculpture:    Gupta style of India. Brahmanic - Pallava and Chalukyan dynasties influence from Southern India. Distinctive though. Example: statue? set against a stele or stone arch, between high relief and sculpture in the round, elegant.

Inscriptions and temple foundations ascribed to King Bhavavarman II (before 639-after 656). His patron Deity was probably Shiva, but the spread of Mahayana suddenly happening. Lokeshvara images: the King as a royal Bodhisattva.
 

KHMER

Jayavarman II's capital at Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen (mountain of the great King of the Gods) He erected a lingam inside the temple. (p. 43 Rawson). This is where his soul resided and became the source of the power of the Khmer dynasty. This was the first attempt to imitate the cosmic mountain in the form of the brick pyramid of his temple. The temples at another capital Sambor revive old Chen La style. Also constructed temples at Banteay Prei Nokar and Roluos (where he died) in the old style. In 800 at another capital, Amarendrapura, made a three tiered brick pyramid crowned by a group of five shrines which dominate the plain. Continuation of the old Chan La pattern of tiers of diminishing repeats of the basic cell but with elaborate sculptured ornament. Called on artists from Java and Champa. We see the kala monster from Java and the makara head vomiting a deer which comes from Champa.

Javayavarman III (850-877) made larger icon figures which continued the native Cambodian traditions, yet somewhat stylized. The Vishnu figures dispense with the solid aureole supporting the arms. Show Prasat Andet forehead-peak but now the eyebrows gradually lose their clear bows and condense into a single line.

The coming Khmer Renaissance's main lines of inspiration had been laid down. The real emergence came with Indravarman (877-89) Roluos has the first great works of Khmer architecture: Preah Ko temple begun in 879 south of the baray of Lolei, his temple mountain the Bakong begun in 1881 and the ruined Prasat Prei Monti, his palace. All surrounded by rectangular moats.

Preah Ko - oriented east to west with main gates to the east (like virtually all Khmer buildings and Angkor itself) Symmetrical only on the east-west axis. The chief three tower shrines contained stone images of deified male ancestors of the king, the second three females, constructed of brick, faced with stucco ornament. Page 47 Rawson.

Bakong - His holy lingam shrine on top of its sacred mountain made of brick and stucco, replaced in the twelfth century. Series of sandstone terraces, eight brick shrines. Bas-reliefs showing the formal language of Khmer art, deeply sinuous curves and squared enclosures. Inspired by Borobudur and Jayavarman II's lesser prototype, Ak Yum.

Associated sculptures: stiff and motionless. Invention of the ring of the top edge of the waist-cloth greatly enhancing the three dimensional. Grouped free standing sandstone sculptures. The Nagas and Garudas of the Bakong causeways are brought down from the building and articulate into the everyday world from the magical space of  the temple shrine. Dispense with the stone aureole supporting the arms and hands. Have the sensuous continuity of surface as the great Chen La works, but more massive. Horizontal elements of brows, eyes, nose and mouth.

P. 53 Rawson. Indravarman with two wives in the guise of Shiva with Uma and Ganga originally carved from single block. Broad bellies. Lines running along the breats.

Yashovarman succeeded his father in 889. His temple mountain called Phnom Bakheng, begun 893, surrounded by a vast rectangular moat, four miles around which was the nucleus of his new capital and the source of his irrigation complex. He had earlier started work on a temple at Lolei (old baray) dedicated to the worship of his father as king-divinity. Built two other shrines in the hills, the Phnom Krom and the Phnom Bok. Similar to Bakheng but insignificant beside it.

Bakheng - Descendant of the Bakong, a symbolic representation of the universe somewhat on the lines of Borobudur. Based on a square five-storeyed pyramid, eighty three yards along each lower side and forty feet high. Stands on natural rock. Five large tower shrines on a raised platform on the summit, 108 towers (27 (lunar mansions) x 4 (lunar phases) x 7 levels (including ground and summit) which represent Hindu's seven heavens. Only thrity three can be seen from a single perspective - the canonical number of the Hindu deities. The levels appear to emerge from within the level below it. Highly developed much later. Luxuriant, extremely fine foliate scroll relief carving covers much of the main shrine.

Yahovarman sculpture is hieratic, formal, frontal, motionless.

Harshavarman I (900-921) temple mountain, the Baksei Chamkrong, superbly proportioned small pyramid entirely of stone, crowned by a single tower. Maternal uncle Jayavarman IV split the kingdom and set up a rival capital forty miles from Angkor in old Chen La country, now called Koh Ker. The 920's found temples being built and dedicated by individuals other than the king, most likely hereditary aristocracy.

Prasat Kravan - Dedicated 921 away from the capital by a private, non royal individual, built entirely of brick. Vishnu temple. Reliefs carved in the baked brick of the tower. Forms simple, probably finished with a layer of fine lime and color. Indian influence. Presumably much painting done in wooden buildings, now destroyed. A syncretic image of Lakshmi, a female deity, combining Shaiva and Vaishnava attributes. This also represents his wife?

Rajendravarman (944-68) - Temple mountain Pre Rup - three stepped stone pyramid crowned by five tower shrines of brick which seem to revert to the old, plain convention of super imposed diminishing stories and not the vitality of outline in the Bakheng.

Banteay Srei - 967. The greatest work of Khmer architecture and sculpture in the 10th century. Survived the repeated reconstructions of Angkor. A private foundation twelve miles north of Angkor, founded by a Brahmin, Yajnavaraha, of royal descent. Style is the high point of SE Asian art. Pink sandstone. Distinctive, full of inventions and splendidly elaborate. Integration of volume and enclosure in the architecture; vitality and order in the ornament, variety and system in the mouldings.. Three tower shrines in line on a single terrace inside concentric enclosures which are pierced by gate pavilions. Around the shrines there are libraries and a pillared hall. Essentially simple, normal Khmer patterns but with a wealth of design, sense of splendor, earthly structures with an aura of divine glory. Cambodian faces with their everted lips take on a new, if linear, life. The chief iconic image: Shiva seated holding his wife Uma on his left knee. Cubical forms. Architectural invention of the huge gabled doorways with the ornate Khmer lintel above. Strong narrative sense.
 

CLASSICAL ANGKOR

The trio of rulers: Suryavarman I, Udayadityavarman II, and Harshavarman II created a politcal and social fortune which produced a long series of massive, opulant buildings and associated cities which were only to be eclipsed by Angkor Vat and Angkor Thom. Although these upserpers were from a distant provence, the builders and sculptors worked in a deeply ingrained tradition.

Suryavarman's temple mountain Ta Keo is in the line of Ak Yum through Bakong to Pre Rup. A five tiered pyramid supporting five tower-shrines entirely built of sandstone impress more by spacious mass and form than florid richness; ornament more restrained than in Banteay Srei style. Used the same style in continued work on the Phimeanakas and in two shrines: the north and south Khleangs in the Angkor Thom. He added new portions to Preah Vihear and built fine temples at Vak Ek, Vat Baset, Phnom Chisor and Chau Srei Vibol.

Udayadityavarman's Baphuon temple mountain (1050-1066) is a colossal monument with a causeway raised on pillars, five terraces crowed by a central tower 160 feet above the ground. The first two terraces surrounded by sandstone vaulted galleries, and their were four libraries on the lowest. Interesting and progressive sculptural style with foliate ornament and narrative with figures, never excessive, full of life, the narratives mainly devoted to Krishna, infusing old traditions with new life and entirely new compositions in vivid motion. Heads of Brahmanical icons show vision of the divine persons with a strong sense of physical presence. These correct iconic types are executed with tender solicitude for the actuality of flesh and bone. The shaping of the eyes and lips derived from the Banteay Srei style, carried out with modest care, shows a surface delicately changing from convex to concave. This art is a result of inspiration where time is not a concern.

One of the world's greatest  sculptures (Rawson p. 78) is a reclining Vishnu bronze from west Mebon. Eyebrows, moustache and eyes seem to have been inlaid perhaps with gold, silver or precious stone. A magnificent bronze of Shiva from Por Loboeuk suggests wealth of metal art.

Angkor Vat

Built by Suryavarman II early 12th century. A great monument, a temple-mountain successor to Baphuon which lies well to the south of the other great temples and faces west. Huge moat two hundred yards wide and almost four miles long sheathed in steps, served as the water supply for a new city built around it. He did not live in the Phimeanakas. Finished just before he died. Used as much stone as that used in the Kephren pyramid in Egypt but carefully dressed, carved and ornamented. External cloister. Approached from the wast by a magnifient road built on a causeway lined by colossal Naga balustrades. Central tower is Shiva shrine with eight stories with a crown.

Departure in the sculpture from full round image, figures lack life. Volumes are stilted, lumpish and surfaces casually worked. Ornamental elements have taken undue prominence. Genius was in the relief. Khmer style but Javanese influence seen  in overlapping series of bodies extending into deep space. Ceiling tented with Chinese textiles. Also flowery ground in low relief suggests silk brocade of China. Chinese emperor of the time controled east India. Overall style reminiscent of late Pallava and Chola art of SE India. Differs from Banteay Srei and Baphuon in its expression related to the dance. It combines dramatic elements with chariots, horses and crowds of fighting figures. Sources of relief subject from Mahabharata and Ramayana and legends of Vishnu and Krishna. These relate to the king's own conquests as a god-king. Figures not individualized like the Chinese cult of extravagance. Color and gilt completed the works.

The facing the west theme is discussed by the story of Yama, the Hindu 'Lord of Death'. Use of apsarases (angels) show Hindu tradition and make this a heavenly adobe for the king after his death. His chosen personal diety - Vishnu - whom he was an incarnation of.

Angkor Thom

Built by Jayavarman VII beginning about 1200 over the site of Udayadityavarman II's city centered on his Baphuon. Huge moat the focus of a complex of canals with barays. Completely walled with five gates with huge gate pavilions. Four in cardinal directions and fifth in the east wall to link the old sacred road from Phimeanakas to Ta Keo. The gate pavillions have towers with four colossal faces relatedto Lokeshvara and symbolize the power of the king dominating the four quarters of the world. His palace is in the enclosure of the Phimeanakas.

The Bayon is his sacred temple mountain in the center crowded with towers carrying the same motif. The Banteay Kdei temple complex may have been dedicated to his religious teacher, probably begun in 1181, the year he arove in Angkor.. Ta Prohm is a huge complex of towered enclosures, halls and corridors dedicated to his mother as an incarnation of Transcendent Buddhist Wisdom, begun  in 1186. Preah Khan dedicated to his father as an incarnation of Lokeshvara begun in 1191 and Banteay Chmar dedicated to one of his sons who died in battle. The road south from the Bayon is lined with 54 colossal imgaes of the gods in heaven all pulling on the body of Naga. The road to the north is 54 gods of the underworld doing the same. This refers to a legend of the creation of the world. The magical mountain Meru was the churning stick and the body of the cosmic Naga as the churning rope to churn all the worlds ou to fthe fluid of chaos just as the housewife churns her butter out of milk. Naga symbolizes  the rainbow, the birdge of heaven. The gods that line the roads are crudely finished.

Angkor Thom and the Bayon built 1200-1219. Ground plans of all structures centered on a tower-shrine oriented eastwards surrounded by rectangular roofed galleries punctuated by towers at the corners and the center of each side. Many small shrines built wherever they would fit.

Achievement of working out into massive architectural symbols of a complex mythical image. For example a small tower shrine in the center of the large baray to the NE of Angkor, Neak Pean. It is a fountain representing the Himilayan paradisal mountain lake from which flow magical healing waters. There is also a colossal image of Avalokiteshvara, teh compassionate Bodhisattva in the form of a huge white horse who saves sailors from drowning, allegorical to salvation.

Overall the sculptures and reliefs do not match the quality found at Angkor Vat. Note Buddha image of the king sitting on a coiled Naga.
 

JAVA (and Bali)

General / Religion

Hinduism and Buddhism (Hinayana doctrine) moved into Indonesia between the 2nd and 6th centuries through Indian merchant settlements during the Andra Empire by sea with the monsoon winds. By the 7th century Mahayana doctrine appeared. By the close of the 7th century monasteries flourished in the Shrivijaya area and the Vajrayana element of Mahayana was widespread. Vajrayana (the vehicle of the thunderbolt) influences entered Javanese Buddhism in the 8th century. Nalanda is the center of Vajrayana Buddhism in North India by the 9th century. The major cultural assimilations from India probably took place during the 7th century.

In even the most complex patterns an ordered regularity, a balance between horizontal and vertical, prevails. A lack of movement, impassive faces and 'slowness' of the lines are part of central Javanese conception of transcendent glory, and the regularity of the designs part of the indigenous Indonesian structure of artistic form.1 The oldest artwork dates from a Shiva-worshipping dynasty in central Java whose last ruler retreated to a kraton in the east of Java with the rise of the Shailendra dynasty (778-864), whom were followers of Mahayana and Tantric Vajrayana forms of Buddhism. Hinayana Buddhism, had flourished for awhile and leaving no trace, was finished in Indonesia. Hinduism (worship of Shiva and Vishnu) remained and was intermingled with Buddhism in the later monuments in the east.

Hindu temples conform with the general pattern of Indian shrine. The germ of divinity contained with in the icon under its tower lay there as if it were radioactive, its energy radiating into the countryside. In Mahayana and Vajrayana art required visual expression of complex metaphysical theories.

Sianization - The Chinese influence on SE Asia by sea and by land. Earlier impulse from China on Dong-son culture: bronze casting was so well developed.

Moko drums, present day, Dong-son roots, they get taller. Animal forms. Diamond pattern harkens back to Dong-son. Animistic.

***Early Buddha from Celebes (Sulawesi), 3rd -5th century, Amaravati (Andra Dynasty) style hollow cast bronze, 3 feet tall, probably cast in India (Sri Lanka). One of the oldest in SE Asia.

Vishnu floating on water represented by Naga (animistic underworld snake)

Nandi the bull carrying Shiva. (Durga: the female buffalo destroyer form of Shiva, equally powerful as Shiva himself)

Ganesha the elephant headed son of Shiva

Buddha slightly elongated, gentle, peaceful, made of volcanic stone. (from Borobudur?)

Sun God with disk behind his head.

Kala (monster) - face of time

Bhairava form of Shiva, skulls on the bottom

    THE DIENG PLATEAU:    Di-hyang - Abode of Gods or Deified Ancestors

30 km NW of Yogakarta. 8th century. Central Java at 6500 ft. Sacred location of sulfur springs and volcanic pools. It was well planned with sewers to drain the swampy plateau. Before Hinduism or Buddhism, Gods of the mountains were worshiped. All these temples are dedicated to Shiva.1 (? or the Trimurti) Originally 400 temples, eight still stand. Temples all reveal Pallava styles of Southern India. First Hindu-Javan Temple site and became prototype for all Hindu temples later built in Java. Volcanic stone, kala motif, head of a demon above gates and false doors and diverging makaras, both of which are distinctly developed in Java.

It as abandoned in the beginning of the 9th century, maybe because of a volcanic eruption. 1070 - an volcanic gases (CO2 and H-Sulfide) from an eruption killed 150 people. There have been many eruptions since 1375.

Built under the Mataram Kingdom ruled by Maharaja Sanjaya in 730 AD marking the beginning of the historical period in central Java. Female rulers normal. Sanjaya ruled with his sister from 732-760.

Trabeate architecture: An arch resulting from stacked heavy stones, no mortar. Shikhara-mountain temples. 3D mandalas. With small porch - mandapa - which leads into the interior called: garbha  - the womb house - no windows, a dark space. Square based. Statues inside. Corbel architecture - overlapping stones until they meet: Corbel vault. SE Asians learned it from India. Lots of faces looking out the sides

Imagery:    Shiva with or without his wife, Parvati. His son Ganesha (Defeater of obstacles and for good luck. In Thai he is present in artists' studios, in India in the kitchen). Gods Brahma and Vishnu. Lingams (upright phallus shaped monuments which are a symbol of Shiva) Naga (serpent) crowned with jewels. Unique to Dieng: Gods riding on the shoulders of human figures with the head of an animal. Shiva on a bull, Brahma on a goose, Vishnu on a bird. Kala above the cella - head of a demon, wards off evil, also the face of time. Prominence of kala over doorways uniquely Indonesian.

The Chandi correlate to the spheres of the universe. At the center of the base there are opening where offerings of metal, stones, seeds, and plant, symbolizing earthly elements, are inserted. In the superstructure another small space is open where more offerings made; also a temporary abode for the god. This animates the statue as a living god available to communicate with the priest.

Remaining Chandi (temples):

Chandi Ardjuna

Taller, more graceful. In alignment with two others.

Chandis Semar, Puntadeva, and Gatotkaca

These with Chandi Ardjuna are named (later?) for Pandawa brothers, heroes of Mahabharata (One of the oldest Vedas) - the Indian epic of the Eternal struggle between good and evil - who battled another set of brothers. Puntadeva was the youngest brother.

Chandis Srikandi and Sembadra

Isolated, added later. Image of Nandi. Shiva riding on the back of Nandi is Indonesian in origin. Dedicated to the Trimurti? Chandi Srikandi was built for king's wives, image of Vishnu.

Chandi Bhima

Also a character from the Mahabharata.

Chandi Dwarawati

Identical to Chandi Gatotkaca.

    Chandi Sukuh

15th century. Animistic. Pyramidal gate nowhere else in Java and India. Ling (a penis) and yoni (the virgina) combined and must be stepped over; also nowhere else. Walk past the gate to a big pyramid. Notice a figure with a large erect penis, masturbatory. No erotic art elsewhere in Java. High above there is a big ferocious face, 3 1/2 feet tall, maybe a kala, often misty up there. Bhima figure with Ganesha, never together. Kris, magical weapon, first appearance in art. Shiva monument. A depression on top is supposedly a space for a recently discovered? giant lingam, 6 feet tall, now in the Jakarta Museum. Penis jewelry. Royal family did it into this century. Garuda - man bird vehicle of Vishnu who carries him across the sky - most common image: freedom from release.

    Gedong Sanga Group

Mount Ungaran, south of Semarang. Sulphur springs looking over a fertile plain. It is among eight other temple groups. Possibly ninth century. p. 2131

    Chandi Pringapus

850 CE. p2141

    Chandi Ngawen

Near Muntilan. Five shrines standing in a row from North to South, each some twelve feet from the next. Based on Vajrayana theory - Vajradhatu (see Mendut) p.2161

    CHANDI MENDUT

A place of spiritual preparation on the way to Borobudur. A stairway leads up to a shrine with interior space. Contemporary with Borobudur, 800 CE. Relief of God of Wealth - Kuvera, plump guy. Relief of the Tree of Life hung with branches of gold and pearls. The shrine inside has a great central Buddha statue in the "European" pose. 1 1/2 - twice life-size. Mundra of turning the wheel of law. Two bodhisattvas Lokeshvara and Vajrapani. on either side of him. Originally five Buddhas, the Dhyani, or directional Buddhas.

The five Dhyani Buddhas preside over the major psychological categories under which ultimate reality shows itself. This group and their realms are called Vajradhatu. Vajra means diamond, thunderbolt, male organ, unbreakably hard. Dhatu means realm. The Javanese Tantric tradition also has a vertical Garbha Dhatu group in relation to the horizontal Vajradhatu. Garbha, womb or innermost secret. The Buddha nature (ultimate reality of the universe) is presented by a majestic preaching Buddha with two divine personalized projections. On his right is Bodhisattva Lokeshvara, Lord of the Worlds, both compassionate and possessed of all power. On his left, Bodhisattva Vajrapani who holds a Vajra, resembling a double-ended trident derived from the classical Greek thunderbolt of Zeus. He is the embodiment of the most secret doctrines and practices. Chandi Mendut illustrates the combined doctrines of Garbha Dhatu and Vajradhatu.

See from page 220 in Rawson.

    Chandi Pawon

Go there next and give offerings. You then cross the Kadu Plain rising out of the land and move on to Borobudur.

    BOROBUDUR:  The Epic Mandala of Vajradhatu (The Diamond Mandala)

See Also: Borobudur and Gauguin

Built  c750-800 CE during Medieval India, it is possibly the largest stuppa in the world, comparable only to one in Burma. Borobudur is near Magelang? in Java,  South-west Indonesia. Borobudur was built under the Shailendra Dynasty (778-864). A contemporary dynasty also existed, the Shrivijaya. By this point Gupta (Indian Empire from 320-650) artistic influences had reached Java and effected the style at Borobudur which was a unique variant of the Gupta style. The Indian Empires were difficult to pin down in medieval India and seem to move to the islands once they lose control in India? In the 8th century Java is also influenced by Pala out of NE India but this art did not flourish until after full sophistication of Javanese art in the eighth century, marked in particular by Borobudur. "Within the Indian cultural sphere, classical Buddhist art reached its peak in the Borobudur in Java." (Seckel 269)

This stuppa is also a mandala. Borobudur is solid, meaning there are no inside spaces. See Rawson for a description on page 227. There are five gradated terraces topped by three circular levels on which there are 72 stuppas of lattice work volcanic stone, and then a final stuppa crowning the massive structure. In the 72 stuppas are the directional, Dhyani Buddhas. There may have never been a Buddha in the top stuppa, but recent scholarship has found a Buddha in pieces which may have been placed there, which may also refer to the King of the time. Relief sculptures run along all five terraces. In all there are 9 tiers. There is a dramatic transition from the terraces to the stuppa (circle) levels. Circle symbolizes the absolute. The bottom level, which was an after thought for support reasons, covered up the first level of reliefs. There are 505 Buddha statues. Some have been moved to museums. On each of the first four terraces there are identical Buddhas on each side (covering the four points of the compass) This is similar to a Vajrayana mandala. The main Buddha, Vairocana, who is not subject to spatial limitations, is on all sides of the fifth terrace. Borobudur is called the psychological pilgrim's path (from sinful behavior and moral dilemmas to invisible reality.)

Despite 505 Buddha statues they were not superficially executed and do not look mechanically produced. Borobudur is imbued with Vajrayana ideals. Vajra (diamond or thunderbolt) symbols. Borobudur is a monument of the Yogacara or Vjnana doctrine founded by Asanga in the 4th century.

The Dutch restored Borobudur beginning in 1918 and finished in the early 1990's. They spent 20 million. Eight bombs were placed inside stuppas that went off in c1993.

The mandala comes to Buddhism from Hinduism. A mandala is an intricate pattern of decorated squares and circles used as a support for instruction and meditation; a microcosm, or a reduced replica of the universe; the center represents the ultimate state of being. Mandara in Japanese. Usually made of painted cloth, mandalas are also done by mural, carved in wood and etched on copper plates. Often made of sand and floated down a river.

Dr. Bernier's Borobudur Overview:

Difference between Borobudur and an Egyptian pyramid is a lack of burial chambers, the extensive ornamentation and B is part of the hill it is on.
Like a Gothic Cathedral, B leads your eye upward and has extensive iconography.
If the main stuppa held a Buddha referring to the king, this is an element never found in India - Davaraja Cult. Rawson says the Adi Buddha is in there, the primordial Buddha, the Buddha principle, a force field of Buddha energy. In 1855 the Dutch governor saw an unfinished figure inside the main stuppa. Later nothing was found but an unfinished figure found in the dirt. What does it mean if there was never anything in the closed top stuppa? It was completely reconstructed. We have no real idea of how big it was.
The makaras, water monsters 1/2 elephant, 1/2 Naga are used for drainage, unsuccessfully.
72 stuppas times the 5 directional Buddha's = 360 digress.
Relief of the Queen of Maya on her way to Lumbini, the garden where Buddha was born. Adopted by the King. Immaculate conception by elephant spirit.

    CHANDI KALASAN

8th-9th century. Corbel architecture also seen on the Dieng Plateau. It is from India and used all through SE Asia. Heavy use of Kala here and throughout Indonesia is unique to the area. Reflects closeness to theater.

    SEE ALSO

From page 236 in Rawson: Chandi Sewu, Chandi Plaosan, and Chandi Sari in Rawson.

BRONZES - not as round or full

Four faced Brahman (at Prambanan?)

    CHANDI LARA JANGGRANG, PRAMBANAN

Hindu Complex. Shiva. Originally no less than 232 temples. Probably built after 900 and before 930. Ramayana, an old Indian epic story of Rama, his wife Sita, and his army of monkeys leaving India, to Sri Lanka. Relief details. Womb house, only priest can go in there. Maybe a lingam in there. Square temple with porch. It is a shrine in the form of a cosmic mountain - Shikhara - also? the name of the tower on a temple - mountain Meru, at the center of the universe. Dieng Plateau is also a Hindu example of a Shikhara and Chandi Mendut is a Buddhist one.

A motif of Prambanan is the lion in an ornamental niche flanked by a pair of panels with ornate jeweled trees. The central icon is Shiva. Nandhi Nandi - the vehicle of Shiva image. Hariti was a goddess of eating children. The Buddha turned her into a mother goddess. There is a relief of her at Chandi Mendut. Also looked at one of the tree of life.

    PROGRESSION OF STYLE

Over the course of these 500 years? relief sculpture, lesser sculpture and ornament evolves away from the sensuous plastic order of the Central Javanese style into an extravagant fantasy associated with the Wayang puppets of modern times. Bodies and volume are eliminated and everything is linear sinuosities and complex forms into proliferation of curlicues. Narrative iconography with complete detail, fullness, elaborate, horrorvacui, fluid, organic, and attenuated all characteristic of Indonesian art. They work with Ebony, mahogany, and teak. Lack of ferociousness, self contained.

    OTHER

Rawson goes on to Eastern Java, etc. From page 254 to the end.

At Belahan a Vishnu portrait statue of King Erlangga, c1042, tufa, 190 cm high, over life sized. Represents the king in the guise of his patron deity, Vishnu carried on his terrible vehicle, Garuda. Belahan with its extensive ruined temples supposedly the burial place of Erlangga who probably died in 1049. p.254.

The Buddhist King Adityavarman shown as Bhairava, the destructive form of Shiva, standing on skulls. Definitely a Vajrayana King - that doctrine has room for references to destruction.

BALI

Famous Moon of Bali drum. Worshiped as a Deity - only instance of people leaving? offerings. Reminiscent of Dong Son technique.

 

SOURCES

1)    The Art of Southeast Asia, Philip Rawson. World of Art Series, Thames and Hudson, London, 1967.
2)    Dr. Bernier's Lectures, University of Colorado, Fall 2003.
3)    The Temples and Sculpture of Southeast Asia, Louis-Frederic.