National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia

high-definition creative commons photographs mainly of Buddhist and Hindu statuary from the National Museum in Jakarta, Inodenesia, together with some further information.

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The National Museum in Jakarta has some of the finest collections of statuary from the Hindu-Buddhist period found anywhere in the world. The Buddhist statues date from the 8th-14th centuries, while the larger collection from Hindi sites ranges over a slightly longer time span. The fine collection of inscriptions go back even farther to the 5th century. I have given descriptive titles, but they are not as detailed as the ones accompanying the statues themselves, for want of space. All dates, except the dated inscriptions, are necessarily approximate.

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Overview of the Museum

The old museum was built by the Dutch colonial government in the 19th century and opened in 1868, while there is now a new and modern building (2007) built alongside it to display more works from the National collection. The museum houses works from virtually the entire history of the archipelago, but the main Hindu-Buddhist collection is housed in the old building in one room and two corridors, and a smaller collection of gold and silver items are now in a restricted section of the new building on the 4th floor, where we were unable to photograph. The three photographs of the famous Praj?āpārimitā statue below, which we also couldn't access, are by Gunawan Kartapranata, and posted to Wikimedia.

Buddhist Statuary

The Buddhist statuary ranges from the 8th-15th century, with the main part being from districts inside Java, and a smaller selection from Sumatra and Kalimantan. They are arranged here as Buddha statues, followed by Dhyani Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and others.

Statue of Bhairava (Adityavarman)

This statue is of the fierce Bhairava Siva, and is believed to have been modelled on King Adityavarman, who ruled Sumatra in the 14th century. In the museum the statue is marked as Bhairava Buddha, but this seems to be a mistake, because although Bhairava is worshipped in some Buddhist communities, he is not thought of as a Buddha.

Statue of a Queen

The statue is thought to be of Queen Suhita (Aji Ratnapangkaja Parameswara), who ruled the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit as the 6th monarch from 1429-1447.

Hindu Statuary

The Hindu statuary is more extensive than the Buddhist and there are many fine works, including the ones above of Bhairava and Queen Suhita. It covers a range of time from the 8th to the 15th centuries. Here it is organised as follows: Siva in various forms; his consorts, mainly forms of Durga; his son, the elephant god Ganesa; then other gods, including the Vedic Indra and Agni; and other Hindu figures.

Relief Narratives and Antefixes


The inscriptions are of great significance as they give very precise dates on the one hand, and a lot of detailed information on the other. The inscriptions shown here date from the 5th century to the 12th, and possibly longer, as three I failed to identify.

Brass Work

The brasswork in kept in a separate room at the back of the main statue rooms, and contain statues of gods, priestly equipments, drums, mirrors and more.


Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu

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