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Buddhist and Hindu Metal Images of Indonesia: Evidence for shared artistic and religious networks across Asia (c.6th-10th century)

Mathilde Mechling defended her thesis on 28 january 2020.

Mathilde Mechling
28 January 2020
Leiden Repository

This thesis is the first large-scale study of Buddhist and Hindu metal statues (i.e. bronze, gold and silver alloys) from the western islands of the Indonesian Archipelago (Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Bawean, Bali, Lombok) since the publication of the catalogue Divine Bronze 31 years ago (Lunsingh Scheurleer & Klokke 1988). To overcome limitations of past studies, I use a network approach inspired by De Casparis’s idea of a “complicated network of relations” linking maritime Southeast Asia and India (1983). Additionally, I apply a multidisciplinary methodology combining art historical methods of stylistic and iconographic analyses with archaeometallurgy (visual examinations, X-ray radiography, neutron tomography, elemental analyses), archaeology for mapping find-spots, as well as religious studies to understand the history of use and ritual functions of sacred images. Examining five case studies drawn from the largest corpus ever considered of Indonesian metal images from museum collections today kept in Indonesia, Europe, and the U.S., my study highlights connections between the Archipelago and other Asian regions—including not only South Asia, but also East Asia—within a large cosmopolitan sphere of interaction and over a long period of time.

Supervisor: prof. dr. M.J. Klokke
C0-supervisor: Dr. V. Lefèvre (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3)

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