Barabudur: Archaeological Description, N.J. Krom. Martinjus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1927.

The Art of Buddhism, Dietrich Seckel. Crown Publishers, Inc., New York 1964.

Borobudur: Golden Tales of the Buddhas, John Miksic. Shambhala, Boston, 1990.

Paul Gauguin: A Life, David Sweetman. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1995.
Gauguin in the South Seas, Bengt Danielsson. Doubleday Company, Inc., New York, 1966.
Paradise Reviewed: An Interpretation of Gauguin's Polynesian Symbolism, Jehanne Teilhet-Fisk. UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1983.
“Sources of the Art of Gauguin from Java, Egypt and Ancient Greece” Bernard Dorival.


Borobudur, The Epic Mandala of Vajradhatu (The Diamond Mandala) built late 8th century Java.


Five terraces and the ground level embankment with resulting processional path, which cover the first set of reliefs. Lowest level (covered) scenes are from the Karmavibhanga text illustrating karmic workings of good and bad deeds in future reincarnations, morality and punishment for incorrect behavior.


3 circular levels with 72 stuppas plus the main stuppa. This is 3D mandala: circle inside a square.


Inside the 1st Gallery. Must walk, with the reliefs on your right, around four times to read everything. The individual reliefs are three feet tall. Jatakamala and Jataka stories of the Buddha’s previous reincarnations on outer balustrade; Avadana stories of Buddhist saints and Lalitavistara story of the final incarnation of the Buddha on the inner wall.


My personal stylistic commentary. Note diagonals, elongated figures, foliage, elegance and beauty. 8th century high point of sophistication. Mannerism reference.




Borobudur is called the psychological pilgrim's path; one from sinful behavior and moral dilemmas to the invisible reality.


Despite 505 Buddha statues they were not superficially executed and do not look mechanically produced. The Krom concept.


"Within the Indian cultural sphere, classical Buddhist art reached its peak in the Borobudur in Java." (Seckel 269)


In western thought the style is controversial. One guy says it is perfect while a swami says it is overripe, figures look like rotten fruit. – MANNERISM reference.



Paul Gauguin the Post-Impressionist French Painter born Paris June 7th, 1848, died May 8th, 1903 in the French Polynesian Islands.


Photo of Paul Gauguin. His painting Spirit of the Dead Watching, 1982.

Examples of Javanese Influence on Paul Gauguin’s work before he moves to Tahiti in 1891.


The two photographs Gauguin obtained at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1889. The Meeting of Buddha and the three Monks on the Benares road with The Arrival of Maitrakanyaka in Nandana and Assault on Mara with an episode of the life of Bhallatiya-Jataka.


Te Aa No Areois’s Vairaumati (1892) is based on a mirror image of Puvis’ Hope (1871) but the seated position suggests an Egyptian prototype. The attitude of the head, the necklace, the position of the feet and arm gestures are similar to the Buddha in Arrival at Nandana.


Ia Orana Maria (1891-2) based on Meeting of Buddha and the three Monks.


Vairumati (1896) - the waist garment from The Assault of Mara


Gauguin changed the style with bigger feet and heavier figures.

Discussion of Theosophy and Synthesism.

Three Examples


A gouache Still Life of 1889-90. The seated figure’s hands form a gesture or prayer greeting called Anjalimudra, common, of adoration, offering and of salvation. A mundra. Food as an offering. Source unknown. Lots of oriental art in paris.


Femme Caraibe of 1889: the derivation of the standing female has been traced to Javanese art, position of left arm G’s invention


Eve Exotique (1890) – Henri Dorra points out the standing nude figure is based on figures from the B’ relief, Arrival at Mandana? (Fisk), Assault of Mara (Danielsson)


Saw similarities between Javanese dancing and the postures of Tahitians.


Other Examples


Arii Matamoe, we see outside the palace two seated figures whose poses appear to have been inspired by the sitting figures in the relief of the Bhallatiya-jataka from Borobudur. One of the men though, holds a double-headed axe which in Christian iconography is a common symbol of destruction; an emblem of St. John the Baptist. The metaphor refers also to the death of Arii and the severing of the past. P. 64 Fisk


Idole a la perle sculpture based on The Assult of Mara  p. 50 Fisk 




Just as Borobudur was not mechanically or superficially constructed, Gauguin gave up everything to produce a pure art outside his European world.


Theosophy – Buddhism and Hinduism, Zoroasterism and Christianity.

Symbolist Gauguin and his Synthesism.


In combining Hindu, Buddhist and other iconography into western and Christian themes Gauguin conveys a wider range of symbolic meaning. (fisk 20)



Theosophist combination of Ta’aroa and Buddha or Hina and Isis p. 168, reason why he used all these different countries icons and postures.


Combined Asian concept (from java mostly) of the idol, hinduized asia, and Tahiti, Polynesian art/culture in their language, their dance, their customs, their phallic art and their religious beliefs.