Indonesian / Four Vajra-Deities / Late 10th-early 11th centuryIndonesian
Four Vajra-Deities
Late 10th-early 11th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Southeast Asian; Indonesian
Creator Name-CRT: Indonesian
Title: Four Vajra-Deities
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 966
Creation End Date: 1033
Creation Date: Late 10th-early 11th century
Creation Place: Indonesia, East Java, Nganjuk, Chandi Reja
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Bronzes
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy
Dimensions: Each approx. H. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.087.1-4
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: These four bronze vajra deities, discovered in 1913 in the village of Chandi Reja, Nganjuk, in East Java, illustrate the importance of Esoteric Buddhism in Java. The figures were once part of a larger set of perhaps as many as ninety sculptures that formed a three-dimensional mandala, or cosmic diagram. While the precise textual basis for the arrangement of the entire Nganjuk group has not been established, scholars generally agree that these sculptures, which are now scattered in collections around the world, were part of a Diamond Realm or Vajradhatu mandala. The transcendent Buddha Vairochana is the central diety of the Diamond Realm. In Esoteric Buddhist thought, mastery of both the Diamond Realm, which symbolizes wisdom, and the Womb Realm (Garbhadhatu), which symbolizes practice, is necessary to achieve enlightenment. The small size of these figures and their iconography suggest that they were placed in the outer rings of the mandala, where they functioned as attendants and guardians for the more important deities in the inner part of the mandala.

Although the sculptures from the Nganjuk mandala were the first of this type to be discovered, other examples have been found over the last fifty years. A stunning set that can be dated to the early 10th century was excavated in 1976 in Bantul to the southwest of Yogyakarta, and additional single examples dating from the 10th and 11th centuries are in many public and private collections worldwide. The plentifulness of these small statues attests to the importance of the creation of such three-dimensional mandalas in the Buddhism practiced in East Java. The figures' slenderness and their elaborate jewelry are characteristic of sculptures made in East Java during the late 10th and early 11th centuries.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 42.
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L., and John C. Huntington. Leaves from the Bodhi Tree: The Art of Pala India (8th-12th Centuries) and Its International Legacy. Dayton and Seattle: Dayton Art Institute and University of Washington Press, 1990, pp. 239-42.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.087.1-4
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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