Jātaka Stories on Level 1 Balustrade, Bottom, at Borobudur
high-definition creative commons photographs from the Jātaka, or Buddha’s Past Birth-Stories, together with further information.
No text has ever been idendified for this series of reliefs, though Krom for one believes it must have been following a connected text of one sort or another.
Together with the fact that most of the reliefs are in a very poor state – the third layer of stones at the top is largely missing, and only around half a dozen are complete. Even those are not unscathed, but rather worn, so that their identification is made more difficult.
Because of this in what follows I give a basic description of what we can see on the reliefs. But, of course, the story can only be guessed at, and although we sometimes find sequences, in most cases it proves to be elusive.
1 A Dancing Girl
The left hand side of the first relief is completely missing, and only part of the right hand side survives. From what we can see a dancing girl is performing in front of a man of wealth and his wife who sit on the left. Below the girl we see a drummer with a pot, and behind her I believe are other dancers looking on.
2 A Ploughman and a Rich Man
Van Erp, and Krom following him, believed this to be a variation on the Mass of Gold Jātaka (no. 56 in the Pāḷi collection). In that Jātaka a ploughman discovers a large piece of gold, cuts it in four, and carries it off to safety.
The present relief, however, does not seem to follow that story at all. All we can see is a ploughman on the left hand side. Someone sitting with a large bowl in the middle, and then two people approaching what must be a rich man, or king, and making offerings, which are accepted with the touch of a hand.
2a A Divider
There are many dividers of a similar natuire to this first one in this series. They normally consist of a male and a female, or a male and two females, who are stood together. They seem unconnected to the stories, and their role, apart from acting as dividers is unknown.
Many of these, as they are very damaged, I have omitted from this sequence. Some with more interesting decoration, or more complete in form, I have included.
3 A King receives an Illustrious Guest
On the left a king is sat with his queen on a simple raised seat, and behind him are a couple of attendants. In front of him a guest has arrived who is worshipping respectfully, and behind the guest are some soldiers and an elephant. Perhaps it is a general of some sort reporting back to his king, but we cannot be sure.
3a A Divider
In this divider we see three people. The one in the centre is holding up a large pot, it may be a water pot, but it could equally be a pot of gold or something precious. To the left stands a female, and to the right is what looks like a male.
4a The Monk meditates in the Forest
This is the first of four connected reliefs featuring the same monk. In this corner relief the monk sits alone and in meditation in a forest setting, with various trees around, and some animals, including a pair of deer. Parts of the relief appear to be unfinished.
4b The Monk is visited by a King
This is the second half of the corner relief, they are both numbered as 4, but it is clear they are two different scenes. In this relief the monk is being visited by someone who was evidently out hunting, and came across him in the forest. He is shown holding his spear, and he has three companions with him.
5 The Monk teaches Dharma
In the third relief in this sequence the monk is now seen in teaching posture, and the four men from the previous relief are sat on the floor listening to him teach the Dharma. One of them still holds a spear, while the foremost holds his hands in añjali.
6 The Monk teaches the Nāgas
In the last of this series we see the monk again teaching, but this time it seems his four interlocutors are nāgas. The one on the far left of the relief can be clearly identified as such. The others all have damage to the tell-tale headdress, but it seems they are all of a kind. There is a basket between the monk, who sits in a simple pavilion, and the first of the nāgas, which looks like it contains a large pearl or jewel.
7 A King sends out Wealth for Distribution
The whole top row of blocks from this relief is missing, but we can still see enough to make out what is going on. On the left sits a king with his queen behind him. In front of him a man is taking pots of wealth and then seems to be passing them on, and distributing them through intermediaries to two poor people on the far right, the front one of which holds out his hand to receive the gift.
8 A Procession
Another badly damaged relief. This is one of Borobudur’s favourite scenes: a procession. We see musicians, an elephant, and other revellers all moving to the right.
9 A Man approaches the Queen
On the far left we see a man walking towards the right. There is a large chest in front of him, but what his relationship is to it is hard to know. On the right we see a queen sat at ease on a throne surrounding by her ladies-in-waiting.
9a A Divider
Two people stand holding what look to be offerings of flowers arranged in dishes. The one of the right appears to be male, and the one on the left is probably female, though neither are clearly marked.
10 Nuns visit a Queen
On the left we see a row of six nuns inside a pavilion. To their left are two lay women. The nun on the right is probably teaching the lady who sits opposite her. It is not clear if she is lay as her head is also missing, but her position near to a richly decorated house on the far right probably indicates it. An attendant kneels in front of the house.
11 A Couple receive Three Guests
On the left we see a couple sitting on a raised seat. They are not heavily decorated so it is unclear who they are. In front of them are three guests, the foremost of which holds his hands up in respect. The block on the bottom left on this panel appears to be misplaced, as it shows a hand pressing down, which doesn’t fit in with the rest of the scene.
12a A King receives Visitors
This is the first sec tion of a corner panel, though it appears to be two different scenes. A king sits with his queen behind him on a raised seat, or throne. He has his hand held in front of him, with an open palm. Five visitors sit on the floor in front of him, the foremost of which has his hands in añjali. Above the visitors are a parasol, a standard with a wheel atop it, and a leaf fan or shade. The visitors are evidently wealthy themselves.
12b Someone receives Visitors
This panel is badly worn away. Probably what we had on the right was a king and his queen sat on a throne or seat. The carving may not have been finished, or perhaps it is just very badly worn down. On the left are sat three people under a tree, they are gesturing and evidently in conversation with the king.
13 A Monk builds a Stūpa
Although it could be three monks in this relief, it more looks like it is one monk at three different times. On the left he is sat in meditation; in the middle he is sat with two small stūpas – perhaps they are models? On the right he kneels down in front of a large stūpa. Everything indicates that all these scenes take place in the wilderness, as there are stylised rocks around, and trees, including a banana tree on the far right.
In this photograph I wanted to give an idea of what the individual panels look like in situ, with the panels from the Viśvantara Jātaka above.
14 A Monk in Three Scenes
Again we seem to have one monk is three different scenes. On the left he is probably the character standing, with a male and female in front of him paying respects; in the middle he seems to be pouring water over the head of the bearded male. On the right he is probably the recipient of a pot and a dish from a wealthy supporter and his wife inside a pavilion.
15 A Banquet
In the centre of this panel is what appears to be a large dish with rice, fish and other dishes on it. One group of six people are sat on the left, with one other member standing. Another group of four people is on the right. On the far right we see a rich house with a staircase leading from it, on its flanks are two large birds.
16 A King and a Pratyeka Buddha
In the pavilion in the centre of this panel we see a rich man, probably a king, with three of his concubines sat behind him. To the far left is his palace or house. On the right we see one person flying up into the skies. It is hard to make out, but I think it must be a Pratyeka Buddha. On the ground below him are a group of people sitting, and one very worn character who is standing.
17 A King receives a Visitor
On the podium on the left a king sits with his queen, or consort, and has his hand stretched forth, presumbly in blessing. In front of him sits a male (Krom: female) who is listening intently to the king. Behind him are a row of soldiers, of which he may be the leader. On the far right is an interesting scene: a forest is depicted with a large serpent curled up in a hole.
17a A Divider
This divider is fairly damaged and the face of the male character is broken off, but the postures the couple hold is quite striking. The female leans in with her hips towards the male, who is carrying a lotus, and has his legs crossed.
18 An Interview and Devas Flying through the Air
There are two scenes in this panel. On the left we see a man sitting in relaxed posture, and leaning on one of his women in discussion with the two women in front of him, who also sit on a slightly raised seat. In the middle is a wishing tree (kalpa-taru) which seperates the scenes. On the right we see what appear to be devas carrying offerings flying off in the direction of the next panel, which it seems to be an extension of.
19 A Deva visits a King at Night
In the centre of this relief is a king reclining on his couch with two female attendants caring for him. Somewhat to the left of centre we see a deva flying through the air towards the king. Under him a couple of guards are sleeping, showing this is a night scene. There are more guards on the far right of the panel.
20 Offerings are brought to the King
A lot of this panel is missing, but we see enough to understand that a king is sat with his queen on the left. In front of him a man sits on the floor and turns back to look at the people behind him who are bringing pots filled with wealth of some sort to the king. In the centre is what looks like a treasure chest with garlands atop it.
21 A Procession
It is hard to make much out on this damaged and worn relief. We can see that it is a group processing towards the right. One of the characters looks like he has a nāga headdress, but even this is uncertain.
22a An Eleborate Building
This is the first part of a corner panel. We see a very rich and ornamented building, with pillars and festoons. On the lower right is a decorated pot under a tree.
22b A King receives Visitors
On the right hand part of this corner panel we see a king sat with his queen inside a pavilion. In front of him are two men sitting on the ground.
23 Approaching a Meditator
This is a very damaged relief. On the far left we see stylised rocks and trees, indicating we are in the wilderness. There was probably someone sat in meditation on a seat next to this, but all we see are the very bottom of the legs. Someone in finery is approaching from the right. His attendant kneels at his feet. We also see a kinnara in a tree in the centre.
24 A King receives Homage
The two figures sitting right of centre are evidently the central characters in this relief. It is probably a king and a queen. To the right of them two brahmins stand, one with his hands raised. On the far left someone is holding what looks like a small stūpa, and others have clothes and other offerings they are bringing. Notice the two large pots, one in the centre, and one on the far right.
25 A King at Court
By the decoration and configuration this could be the same couple who appeared on the previous relief. They sit inside a simple pavilion, and the queen has a female attendant with her this time. More attendants sit on the left under a tree. On the right a visitor is sat holding his hands in añjali, while behind him his entourage sit and hold various postures.
26 Homage to Three Stūpas
In the centre of this relief we see three stūpas, the central being bigger than those flanking it. There are lotus flowers hanging down from a pavilion that is erected around them. On both left and right devotees have gathered and are either worshipping, making offerings, or observing the others.
27 A Queen at Court
On the right a queen sits and has her legs massaged by the attendant in front of her. Other ladies sit around the queen. In the middle is a coconut tree, and on the far left another tree with large pots under it, indicating wealth. A couple of people are seen between these two trees.
28 Before the Palace
A badly worn down relief shows what is probably a palace. On either side of the palace we see fly whisks erected. There are two persons kneeling before the palace, the one on the far right is probably holding a parasol over the main character further in, but the damage is so severe we cannot be sure.
29a A King and Queen receive Guests
In this corner relief a king and queen sit on a raised seat, the king is seated in relaxed posture with the knee strap supporting his leg. From under his seat we see a sitting cloth draping down. On the right a visitor has come and is sitting also on a high seat, but the relief is so badly damaged it is hard to make out much more. Behind him is an attendant sitting on the floor.
29b More Visitors
The right hand part of this corner relief simply shows more people sitting on the floor paying attention to the action on the left hand side. Two of them have their hands raised in añjali. They are dressed in finery, and so are probably not attendants but fellow visitors.
30 A Procession Scene
This is one of the procession scenes the Borobudur sculptors were so good at. In the middle is an elephant with a bell around his neck pacing to the right. To the right of him is a man with a drum. On the left is a group of people, one of whom is portrayed with his back towards us.
31 People Kneeling
Most of this relief is missing. On the left we see two ladies kneeling. Near the middle two others kneel. I suspect they are men.
32 People Kneel before a Stūpa
We see a group of people kneeling before what was probably a stūpa, which is on the far right. Some of the devotees bear offerings, and others were probably holding their hands in reverential salutation.
33 A Palace and a Wishing Tree
On the far left we see a wishing tree, and a male figure standing next to it. In the centre is an elaborate building, several stories high. Next to it on the right is another figure, maybe female. And then we see another tree on the right.
34 A Blank Relief
All the carved blocks from this relief have gone missing. Although there is no scene it is still instructive, as it shows us how the stones were cut and arranged, not always totally square or the same size, and the sort of initial stonework before the carving began.
35 Offerings to the King
Again it is a very damaged panel but we can see enough to understand the main action. The couple sit on a raised seat on the left. Behind them someone is holding a basket, probably of flowers. In front of them there is a large box, with flowers of top, and someone sat on the ground who is holding – and probably offering – it to the king. On the right more people are seen sitting on the ground.
36a A King approaches a Lotus Pond
This is the left hand side of a corner relief, and we see a king standing, with his hand on his hip, and approaching the pond which is pictured on the right hand side. Behind him are various attendants, one of whom holds a parasol.
36b A Lotus Pond and Kinnaras
The right hand side of this corner relief shows the lotus pond, with a number of flowers standing tall out of the water. On the left we see a kinnara, and above the flowers there are two more. Between the king on the previous relief and the pond stands a wishing tree.
37 A Meeting
A prominent personage, who may be male or female, is sat on a raised seat, and inside a pavilion with a curved roof. Behind him three people in finery, they are probably courtiers, rather than attendants. In front of him is a man in fine dress who was probably a visitor who was worshipping. Behind him are his attendants.
38 A Chariot goes to the Wilderness
We now see an important person in his chariot heading into the wilderness, which is pictured stylistically on the right. His driver has his hand up, and is holding a standard. Behind him come soldiers carrying their swords with them.
39 At the Lotus Pond
The character who was traveling to the wilderness in the last scene has now arrived, and once again we find he is at the lotus pond, which was pictured on 36b. On the right of the pond we see the kinnaras again. This surely indicates that the last few panels are sequential, even though we don’t know the story they tell.
40 Going to the Stūpa
It is presumably the very same character we have seen earlier who is now going to visit a stūpa. By the way the chariot and horses are pictured as being off the ground – as are those who follow – it must be that they are coming from the celestial realms now. Already at the stūpa we see devotees gathered round.
41 The Bull and the Lion
I agree with Krom that what we must have here is three scenes on one panel. In the first on the left, the cattle are resting peacfully; in the middle a lion is attacking, and the bull is probably dissuading him from such action; on the right the bull grazes freely. No known story fits this panel, as with so many others.
42 Monks at a Temple
In the middle is a well-decorated temple. To the left appear what are possibly worshippers. On the right inside a pavilion sit some monks, and on the far right some lay devotees.
43a Watching the Dancing
This is the left hand section of a corner relief. We see someone sat in relaxed position upon a large cushion, with others relaxing around him. They are inside an elaborate building.
43b The Dancer and Musician
On the right hand side of the corner panel we see one lady dancing, while another looks on. In the middle, in quite a dynamic pose, a drummer keeps time on his drum. There are others around, but whether they are playing instruments or not is not clear owing to the damage.
44 Devas fly through the Air
A group of eight devas are seen flying through the air, and going towards the next scene. The panel is damaged and even what has survived is worn away.
45 Worshipping at the Temple
This is one of the most pleasing of the panels in this series, both owing to its execution, and to its preservation. The centre shows a temple which has five small stūpas atop its central section. On the left a peacock sits on a wall; while on the far left a worshipper is holding his hands in reverence. On the far right is another man, but not enough is visible for us to know what he was doing.
46 A Procession to the Left
This scene is rather unexpected as normally the action always seem to be moving towards the right, whereas here it is presented as moving to the left. On the far left two people are standing, who must be the centre of attention, but the damage is such we cannot see who they are. A chariot is approaching, and many soldiers also.
47 A King receives Visitors
On the centre right a king sits with his consorts. Behind them are ladies-in-waiting. They are receiving some visitors who are sitting on the floor in front of them. They must be important and wealthy as they have an elephant with them, as is seen on the far left. A lovely detail is the mahout holding the elephant’s trunk as the conversation takes place before them.
48 The King receives a Brahmin
In the centre sits what is presumably a king, his consort kneels behind him. In front of him we see a brahmin who is visiting, but the damage is so bad, there is nothing more we can identify. On the far right several people are seated inside a decorated building.
49 A King receives Homage
Once again we see a king sat on a cushion and receiving visitors. Behind him are a group of ladies, one of whom holds flowers. In front of him three young men sit on the floor, and have offerings, which they proffer; behind them are four more men, also carrying offerings.
50 Bringing a Duck to the King
The panel, like so many others lacks the top row, and other parts are worn badly. However we can see a very interesting detail: one of the visitors to the king is carrying a duck. Despite this an identification has yet to be found with any story from Buddhist literature.
50b A Divider
This dividing panel shows a couple as usual, but in this case the panel is notable as it shows a man with his arm round the shoulder of the lady, holding her in affectionate embrace.
51 The King watches the Dancing
On the left the king is sat on a large divan with his queens and ladies-in-waiting around him, they are watching the scene on the right which shows four dancers and some musicians, including a couple who are playing tablas and a pot-drum.
52 Monks meet with Lay Women
In the centre we see five monks are sitting inside a pavilion, which is itself in front of a temple building, pictured on the right. On the far left three wealthy women kneel under a tree and listen to the teachings being offered.
We now get a fairly long series of 20+ panels which alternate between a king receiving visitors, followed by a scene at a stūpa where devotees gather to pay respects. One would think a text could be identified from such distinctive repetition, but so far no text has been found that matches.
53 The King presented with a Child
There is a lot of damage on this relief, but we see enough to understand that a child, pictured sat on a lady’s lap, is being presented to a man of authority sitting on a raised seat. Behind the woman is someone who is holding a bowl containing offerings.
54a Sitting on a High Seat
This is the left hand side of a corner relief. Someone is sat on what is an unusually high seat. There is a decorated woman behind him, and three people sat on the floor in front. Presumably attention was on the stūpa on the other half.
54b Worshipping a Stūpa
On the right hand side of this corner relief we see a small, but well-decorated stūpa. People kneel before it, and have offerings of a flower and incense.
55 Sitting with the King
Not much remains of this relief, but there is a very interesting detail, as the visitor is portrayed as sitting as high as the person he is visiting. This is so rare on these reliefs it is a pity we can’t see more of what was being portrayed here.
56 Worshipping a Stūpa
A group of brahmins gather round and are worshipping a stūpa, of which only a small fraction remains intact. On the left one of the brahmins has a pot and a ladle with which he is stirring it. Just in front of the stūpa we see something odd: someone has his foot on the lower level of it. Because of the damage we cannot tell why.
57 Visiting the King
This is a badly damaged panel, that is also worn down in what remains. On the far left someone, presumably a king, is sat on a raised seat, as we see so many times on these panels. Near the centre we see two people, and on the far right two more, who are sitting on the floor. One of them appears to be in conversation with the king.
58 Honouring a Stūpa
This panels appears to be divided into two scenes: on the left a king is as usual receiving visitors, and the characters on this side have their attention on him. On the right hand side, however, attention is on the stūpa. In front of it someone, perhaps the king himself, is down on hands and knees worshipping it.
59 Homage to the King
The king sits with one leg on the floor, he has a queen behind him, and behind her are ladies-in-waiting. In front of him sit six men holding various postures, A couple hold their hands in añjali. As part of the upper layer of stones is visible here we can see they are sat under trees.
60 Worshipping a Stūpa
A small, but elaborately decorated stūpa is pictured in the centre of the relief, with people gathered round, either standing or kneeling, with offerings. One of the main people is a brahmin, who is pictured to the left. He appears to be placing something on the stūpa.
61a Bodhisattvas meet with the King
In this corner relief we see one of the regular meeting scenes that we have come across with the king and his queen, but here the visitors, judging by their headdress, are either Bodhisattvas or devas. They are outside under the trees.
61b A Monk near a Temple
On the right hand side of this corner relief we see a man standing in front of a temple. Krom identifies him as a monk, and although we can’t see his head, he may be right as the dress is simple. The building is elaborate and must be a temple. It is not clear if this and the left hand side are part of the same scene, or two separate ones.
62 Worshipping a Stūpa
To left of centre we see another stūpa, though the carving is badly worn and broken. Around as usual many people gather with offerings. The scene is outdoors as we see from the tree on the left.
63 Ten Men visit the King
Another of the visitation scenes. The king sits alone on the seat this time, with his women behind him on the floor. In front of him are ten young men, a few of whom at the front wear very distinctive headwear. They are pictured under trees, and holding various postures.
64 Offering Incense at the Stūpa
Most of the relief is missing, we can still see the stūpa though, indicating we are in the same series. One man kneels in front of it and is holding an incense burner. Two others are pictured, one of whom holds his hands in añjali.
65 A King with Three Visitors
A king sits atop a large cushion with two women behind him, one of whom holds a small bowl. In front of him sit three young men, the foremost holds his hands in añjali, the one on the far right has what is maybe an axe.
66 Music at the Stūpa
Another stūpa scene. In this case we see men playing drums, while others are playing flutes. On the left others bring flowers in plates as an offering. The character between these two groups is probably a dancer. Before the stūpa one young man is kneeling with a flower in his hands.
67 Dignitaries visit the King
The king sits on the left, and is receiving someone sat on the floor. Two women stand behind him. Then on a platform at least the same height as the king’s we see a group of six men, all with the hand raised, but in different postures. They must be dignitaries of one sort or another to sit so high. Beyond them are three soldiers on the far right.
68a A Procession to a Temple
In this corner relief a procession of eight people are heading to the right. The one at the front holds a lotus as an offering. We can see the finery of their dress, but the heads are either missing or very worn down.
68b A Temple
On the other half of the corner panel is pictured a temple. It is rather stately and not overly decorated, and shows the typical arched windows. It form part of a scene which is continued on the next panel, but is separated from it.
69 Visiting a Stūpa
An extension of the last panel, this one shows the usual stūpa, and three people visiting it. Notice there are flowers falling from the skies on the top right. One of the visitors holds a long lotus stalk.
70 The King receives a Bodhisattva
The king in this panel is shown extending his hand forward, while his queen relaxes behind him. The chief visitor this time must be a Bodhisattva, judging by the hairstyle.
71 A Hunting Party in the Wilderness
On the left we see a group of nine men walking to the right with long bows. Next to them is a wilderness scene with stylised rocks, probably indicating mountains, and trees. Then on the far right we see a small group of deer. It is not clear whether they are the target of the hunt or not.
72 Three Scenes with a Monk
This panel appears to be divided into three scenes. In the first on the left a monk is crouching down and speaking to a lady who is dressed in finery. In the middle scene the monk and lady walk towards the right. On the right we see two monks before a temple. The scenes are set in the wilderness, with rocks and trees about.
73 Visiting a King and Worshipping a Stūpa
Previously the two scenes: visiting a king, and then worshipping a stūpa, have been presented on separate panels, but here they are combined in one. Krom takes this as the end of the sequence, but I think the next visit, followed by worshipping a Bodhisattva probably ends the sequence.
74 Visiting the King
Once again we have a visitation scene, with the king pictured on the left with his women, and before him are the visitors. The leader who is sitting and leaning forward, probably had his hands in salutation. Behind is his entourage.
75a Worshippers sit under Trees
This left hand side of a corner relief shows six men gathered under the trees with their focus on the next part of the panel. They all hold their hands up in various postures.
75b A Bodhisattva in Meditation
Someone sits in meditation inside a building, upon a sitting cloth which drapes down in front of him. The head is missing, but we can see from the decoration on his body that this was neither a Buddha, nor a monk. It is probably a Bodhisattva. This seems to me to be the last in the sequence of reliefs showing first kings receiving visitors, followed by a worship scene.
We now come to a sequence of reliefs that will feature animals of one sort or another.
76 Giant Fish
In rather stylised form we see a body of water portrayed, and two fish in it. The one is much larger than the other. There are also flowers in the water. On the left several people have gathered with offerings. Krom wants to connect this and the previous two panels with a story in which a fish gives himself to feed people during a famine (Avadānaśataka 13), but the indications are so slight, I find it highly conjectural.
77 A King walks with his Women
This is a rather worn, but at least it is complete. It shows a king walking in a park with some ladies. The group appear to be moving towards the right. On the left in the tree we can see a bird perched and a squirrel, and there are two love birds in the tree on the right.
78 Two Kings in Conversation
The panel again is relatively undamaged. On the left of centre a king sits in a relaxed position on his throne with two consorts. In front of him sits what looks like another, though evidently lesser, king on a lower seat, who holds his hands in añjali. His attendants, including swordsmen, are behind him. The scene is outside under the trees.
79 The Sage and the Hare
Avadānaśataka 37. One time a sage lived in the wilderness and had a friend, a hare, who could speak human language. They would converse each day about many things. When a drought overcame the land the sage decided to move back to the habitations of men so as to find food.
The hare when he heard of this tried to offer himself in a fire as food for the sage, though the latter prevented it. The hare then made an asservation of truth and called on Śakra to make the rain fall, which he did. When asked, the hare identified himself as a Bodhisattva bent on Awakening.
There are three scenes in this one panel: on the left the sage is pictured as living in the wilderness, and in front of him is the hare, with whom he is in converse. In the middle we see the fire the hare tried to sacrifice himself in. On the right we see the hare, and from the cloud above rain falls down refreshing the land; the peacocks pictured there are associated with rain in Indian thought. This is one of the better preserved of the panels.
80 A Game of Dice
There are again two scenes on this panel, but exactly how they are related in unclear as there is too much damage on the left hand side. There we see a king sat on his throne with his queen behind him and he appears to receive something from the person in front. On the right we see two people sat on a high seat and they have a board game in front of them. It appears to be a dice game of some sort, as we see the dice left of table. Krom identifies this with Avadānaśataka 39, but the only connection – a game of dice – seems insufficient to me.
81 An Elephant is presented at Court
On the left hand side the king sits on a small throne. There is a servant, or perhaps the mahout, in front of him. Behind him is a well-caparisoned elephant; and behind the elephant three men stand, one of whom seems to be presenting the elephant. More of their party are seen under trees on the right.
81a Two Women
Normally these dividing scenes are of a man and a woman, or a man with two women. In this unusual scene, however, we see two women, one of whom has her arm around the other.
83 Gifts to the King
Unfortunately the important characters in this scene are mainly missing. We can see enough to know that two people, probably the king and his queen, are sat on a small dais, and are facing the characters on the far left, who seem to have come with gifts. Behind the king we see a line of pots and bales, and behind that some people are sitting.
84 Monks Visiting the Temple
Seven monks sit on the ground, most of whom are holding their hands in añjali. In front of them is a temple, which is fairly plain compared to those pictured elsewhere.
85 A Reception at Court
Although all the blocks are present in this relief most of them are quite badly worn. We see a group of finely dressed men who are being received by the king and the queen sat on a podium in front of them. The high headdress of the visitors suggest they are either kings themselves or perhaps Bodhisattvas.
86a The King receives Visitors
This is the left hand side of a corner panel. On the podium sit the king and queen as usual, and in front of them on this section are pictured three people sitting under a tree.
86b Four Standing Visitors
On the right hand side of the corner panel we see four men dressed in finery and with their attention on the king. The one on the left is holding a remarkably large lotus flower.
87 Ten Visitors to a King
The king sits on a high cushion on the far left, and immediately in front to him is an incense burner. Next is a long line of ten visitors, some hold gifts, some hold their hands in reverence.
88 Eight Visitors to a King
On the far left the king sits on a high throne and before him we see eight visitors have come to meet with him. The leader is paying respects to the king, while the others hold various postures. At the back is a swordsmen and an elephant.
89 Dancers and a Gamelon
It is hard to make out everything in this scene because the top line of stones is lost, but we can see dancers occupy the centre, and on the right is a very interesting portrait of a gamelon, together with someone playing drums, and another hitting a bell in accompaniment.
90 Offerings at a Stūpa
At the centre of this relief is a small, but well-decorated, stūpa. On the left we see a line of musicians and possibly dancers. On the right people kneel while making offerings of garlands and other things. Many hold their hands in reverence.
91 Bringing a Child to a King
On the left we see a king sitting at ease on raised seat, he is inside a pavilion. In front of him a nurse has brought a child to him, she is followed by other women and then a line of male figures who are pictured as being under trees.
92 Visiting the Reliquary
The child seems to reappear on this relief, sat between the king and another. In front stands someone else. On the right there is a pavilion with a large round object inside. Flowers fall around it and it has a large flower and garlands placed on top. Krom calls it a cushion, but that seems unlikely, perhaps it is a large casket or reliquary of some sort. Two censors burn on either side.
93a Four Men with Offerings
This is the left hand side of a corner relief. We see four men proceding towards the temple on the right hand section with various offerings, including one who has a large lotus held up in his hand. They are dressed in finery and have necklaces and earrings.
93b A Monk makes offerings at a Temple
A monk sits on his haunches in front of a temple elaborately decorated with garlands. He is holding a lotus on his hand.
94 A Monk teaches a Large Retinue
On the far left of this wide relief we see a monk, maybe the same one as on the previous relief, sitting atop a large cushion, with his hand held in teaching posture. In front of him is the king, and then four noble women, all with elaborate hairstyles. Then come servants and others, who are pictured as outside under the trees.
95 Presenting a Child
On the far right there is a rather grand building, which also has a large gateway in front of it. On the left we see a male figure sitting at the same level as the lady holding the baby she appears to be presenting to him. Unfortunately the male figure is so damaged it is hard to be sure who he is. Krom suggests he may be a brahmin. In any case he is unlikely to be a king this time. Various people line up behind the lady with various gifts in hand.
96 Giving a Garland
This relief is very damaged and we cannot see the figure sitting on the high cushion on the left, but in front of him are two devotees who have come with a garland and other presents.
97 A Monk and a Temple
This is again a rather damaged relief. Krom identifies the person standing on the left as a monk but it is hard to be sure. He appears to be holding a bunch of flowers, and he stands before a rather plain temple.
98 A Monk receives Alms
Most of the top row of stones is missing on this panel making it hard to see who the two standing people are. A monk is on the left, holding up his bowl in a bowl-bag. Someone stands in front of him and appears to be making an offering. Behind, a woman kneels who must be a consort, so it probably means the standing figure is a king. We also see an elephant and attendants on the left.
98a A Couple with a Large Lotus
This is one of the frequent couple scenes we find between the main panels. Most of them are badly broken and have been left out of the photographs here. This one has such a strikingly large lotus in the hand of the male character I have included it. The head of the female is missing unfortunately.
99 Visiting Monks at the Temple
On the right there is a temple, with a monk stood on either side of it. The one on the left holds an unusually large lotus. Behind him are a string of five standing and four sitting characters, all male by the look of it. A couple of those who are sitting appear to be monks.
100a Presenting a Child to the King
This is the left hand side of a corner panel. The figure of the king in this relief appears to have mainly broken off, and the head is missing altogether. He has a consort on either side of him. Below, and in front, someone has brought a child, and one of the consorts’s hands is reaching out to him. The lady holding the child seems to have a long necklace running over her breast and almost to the floor.
100b Four Attendants
The right hand side of this corner panel show four people standing and holding gifts which they have brought along with the child being presented to the king. On the left we see small trees, which indicates they are outside, not inside the palace.
101 Holding the Standard Aloft
On the left stand four persons, at least one of which has an offering. On the right are three persons, one standing, and two walking to the right where there is a tree. In between we see someone holding a standard aloft, and another standard seems placed in the ground. Krom suggests the small person holding the standard is a dwarf. I wonder if it could also be the child we saw on the last relief?
102 Worshipping the Stūpa
There are two groups in front of a stūpa, apparently divided by sex, with males on the left and females on the right. Both hold offerings in their hands, some sit, and many kneel. From the garlands that are visible on the top left the scene may have been set inside a pavilion.
103 A Meeting with the King
This is an interesting panel because very unusually the king and his guests are sitting at the same level. As two lines of stones are missing on the guest’s side it is unclear who they are, and whether they are headed by another king. But whoever he is he is paying respects to the king.
104 A Gathering of Monks
On the left we may see a bulding, or perhaps it is a gate. Then a group of monks meet in the centre. On the right three people sit inside what appears to be a separate building. One of the men has his hair up in a bun.
104b A Rakṣasa
Mainly the reliefs of the couples, as far as I have seen, have been of a rich man and his consort, sometimes two people of the same sex feature. Here, however, we see a heavy-set rakṣasa with a companion. Unfortunately, not enough of the latter remains to make out the sex and type, whether human or not.
105 An Elephant meets with Monks
On the right are two people, one of whom stands with a staff. Krom identifies them as monks, but I am not so sure. In front of them, and leading the group of people who come after it, is an elephant. The people on the left of the elephant are all dressed in the clothes of the nobility.
106 Worshipping at a Temple
Just right of centre is a temple and around it people are gathered with offerings. The scene is set outside under the trees. The person on the left of the temple holds a censor in his one hand, and fans it with the other hand blowing the scent towards the temple. There is a censor on the right of the temple also. Other people sit around with various offerings.
107a The Making of Pots
This is the left hand side of a corner relief. Here we see a group of people sitting and apparently working at pottery. Above them are two water carriers, with a pole and two bags each. The scene is set outdoors.
107b The Storing of Pots
This is a continuation of the previous relief and shows a small container with nine pots stored up inside of it. To the left two people sit, one has yet another pot in his hand and may be adding to the collection. It is set outside under the trees.
108 Bringing Pots to a Layman
On the left sit two women and in front of them a man holding a pot sits on the floor. Between the women and the man are two more pots, one on top of the other. The man has shorn hair, but is not a monk, as is shown by his jewellery. In a pavilion, and at a high level, another man sits. He has his hair gathered in a bun, and also wears jewellery.
109 Worshipping a Stūpa
This is a finely cut relief, which is in a fair state of preservation, making it one of the most attractive of the stūpa reliefs. On the left six people are standing and holding various postures. In a pavilion are five others, who are kneeling, and hold offerings. All around them are flowers seemingly suspended in the air. In front of the foremost is a small stūpa, which also has flowers in the air above it.
110 Monks with Books at a Temple
On the right we see a temple building, and the rest of the relief is made up of a long pavilion with various people inside it. On the far left are three lay devotees, and in front of them and centre of canvas seven monks most of whom are seen holding palm-leaf books.
111 Hunting a Deer in the Wilderness
On the far right we see a deer who is positioned amongst the rocks. He turns his face away from those in front of him. Next to him is a caparisoned horse, very well drawn. His owner must be the decorated man who stands with his hand on his hip. He is talking to someone, but the stones showing the heads and faces are lost. Behind him come his men holding various weaponry.
111b A Well-Decorated Couple
Unfortunately a section of this relief is missing, including the female’s face. Otherwise we have a very fine specimen showing a richly decorated couple in their finery.
112 Worshipping a Stūpa
This is another of the main reliefs showing the worship of a stūpa. This one is slightly different, as there is just one person at the front who is down on his knees in front of the stūpa. Perhaps it is a king, but the damage prohibits identification. A parasol bearer stands behind him, and behind them all are eleven others, most of whom seem to be bringing offerings.
113 Meeting with the King
This must have been a very interesting relief, but it is badly damaged now. Near the centre sits the king with his consort behind him. Behind her are three ladies-in-waiting. Under the pedestal the king is sitting on are some money bags. In front of the king someone is kneeling, but facing away from the king, and then another person stands, also facing away. On the right are the visitors, some sitting, some standing, and a few holding offerings.
114 Meeting with the King
On the left is pictured the royal palace, and sitting on a dais is the king, with two consorts. A group of people on the right have come to meet with him, the front one holds his hands in salutation. Between him and the king is a large bowl with something round inside it.
115 A Chariot and Horses
Most of this relief is missing. From what we can see though it had a chariot and horses on the left, with probably a royal personage atop it. Other characters stand around it. On the far right we see two people sitting on the floor.
116 Meeting with the Queen
In a pavilion sits a queen, quite highly placed. She holds a lotus flower. In front of her various members of the nobility have come and are paying respects to her. They are dressed in all finery, and also sit inside a pavilion, indicating their high status.
117 A Nun visits Two other Nuns
Two nuns sit on a pedestal and appear to be in conversation with the person in front of them who must be another nun, judging by the cloth over her shoulder. Behind her are three lay devotees with various offerings.
118a Worshipping a Stūpa
This is the left hand side of a corner relief. Five women are sees kneeling on the floor in front of the stūpa, which is pictured on the next section. One of the women holds a lotus aloft. The one at the front has a censor in her hand.
118b A Decorated Stūpa
This half of the corner relief shows the stūpa, which is well decorated and stands as usual on a lotus stand. Two standards are positioned on either side of it, and on the left is a flowering shrub in a stand.
119 A Child is brought to the King
A large palace is pictured on the left, but a lot of it is now missing. In front a king sits with his consort, and before them a group of women are presenting a child to the king. As we often see the king sits in a relaxed posture and leans with his hand on his consort’s thigh.
120 A Large Group visit a King
This is one of the ensemble scenes the Borobudur sculptors really excelled in, every person in the scene seems to have his own distinctive character. The people have gathered to meet the king, who sits on a high seat on the right with a large cushion in front of him. Behind him is his consort, showing this is certainly not a preacher, as Krom suggested.
121 A Very Damaged Relief
Most of this relief is missing and we can only see four people sat on the floor on the left hand side, hoding offerings and worshipping. They were probably meeting with a king.
122-123 Reliefs Missing
124 Some Women visit the King
The scene is set inside a decorated pavilion. A king sits with his consort on a high seat, as we have seen many times before, and there is an attendant behind them. In front of him some women are kneeling, or on their haunches.
125a A Procession of Women
The relief is part of a corner relief and shows a procession of noble women moving to the right. There is an interesting vignette is the relief showing three women on the left inspecting something one of them is holding, though we cannot make out what it is.
125b A Monk worships at a Temple
The right hand side of this corner panel shows a monk kneeling down in front of a temple with his hands held in reverential salutation. The temple building itself is rather simple in design, and here as in many places, the whole top row of stones is missing.
125c A Man and Two Consorts
Although this relief is not so well preserved I have included it to give an idea of the variety of these dividing reliefs. Here we see a well-dressed man in the centre with large earrings, and his two consorts, one on either side. One of them holds a large lotus flower.
126 Two Teaching Scenes
This relief appears to show two separate scenes, or at least it is hard to see how they are related without a supporting story. On the left a brahmin sits in a pavilion with his wife and seems to be teaching two other brahmins who sit on the floor under the trees; on the right we see one lay woman sat in a pavilion and teaching a group of lay women who have come with palm-leaf books in their hands.
127 Gifts for Nuns
The main characters in this relief are two oversized nuns pictured as kneeling inside a pavilion set up in front of a temple. In front of them a group of lay women have arrived and hold robes and other gifts for the nuns. A censor is set up between the two groups.
128 A Nun teaches Dharma
This is the last in this series on the lower register of the wall, and shows two nuns kneeling inside a pavilion with a censor between them. The nun on the left holds a palm-leaf book, which normally seems to indicate she is the student; the nun on the right is clearly teaching.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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