Indonesian / Standing Figure, Probably a Bodhisattva / Shrivijayan style, 8th-9th centuryIndonesian
Standing Figure, Probably a Bodhisattva
Shrivijayan style, 8th-9th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Southeast Asian; Indonesian
Creator Name-CRT: Indonesian
Title: Standing Figure, Probably a Bodhisattva
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 899
Creation Date: Shrivijayan style, 8th-9th century
Creation Place: Indonesia, possibly Sumatra
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 18 in. (45.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.083
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Shrivijaya was one of the greatest powers in Southeast Asia from the 7th through 9th centuries; inscriptions and other historical records suggest that it continued in some form until the 13th century. The city of Palembang on the island of Sumatra is generally accepted as the capital of Shrivijaya. The depiction of the locks of hair as a series of parallel ribbonlike lines suggests that this intriguing sculpture, tentatively identified as a standing bodhisattva, was made in Sumatra. In addition to the type of hair, this sculpture shares the large cylindrical bump at the top of the head that is seen in other sculptures believed to come from Sumatra. However, the thickness and rigidity of the legs, the lack of volume in the torso, the simplicity of the detailing, and the figure's strong features differentiate this piece from other Sumatran examples. A possible explanation for these differences may be a 9th- or 10th-century date for the piece. It is also possible that this sculpture was produced in an area of the Indonesian archipelago that is less well known than either Sumatra or Java; or it might be both provincial and later in date.

This sculpture has long been identified as an image of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, although the rationale for this identification is unclear. The headdress lacks a stupa, Maitreya's most frequently represented attribute. The identification might derive from the long hair that runs down the figure's back; this style of hair is often found on images of Maitreya and illustrates his origins as an ascetic figure in early Buddhist art. However, this feature alone does not provide enough evidence because long hair is also found on representations of other bodhisattvas, particularly works dating from the 7th through 9th centuries, when the bodhisattva-ascetic played an important role in Southeast Asian Buddhist imagery. The identification of this figure is further complicated by the disk that he holds in his back right hand, an attribute most commonly associated with the Hindu god Vishnu. However, similar wheel-shaped objects are also held by Buddhist attendant figures known as vajra deities. Because of the importance of Buddhism in Indonesia, it seems likely that this figure does represent a bodhisattva or some other Buddhist deity.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 40.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 42, 45.
Related Document Description: Lopez, Donald S., Jr., and Steven C. Rockefeller. Images of the Christ and the Bodhisattva. Middlebury, Vt.: Christian A. Johnson Memorial Gallery of Middlebury College, 1984, cat. no. 43.
Related Document Description: Mowry, Robert D. 'An Image of Maitreya and Other Pre-Angkor Prakhonchai Bronzes.' Orientations (December 1985), p. 38.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.083
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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