Ann R. Kinney. Worshiping Siva and Buddha: The Temple Art of East Java. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2003. 303 pp. $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8248-2779-3.
Reviewed by Leona Anderson (Department of Religious Studies, University of Regina, Canada)
Published on H-Buddhism (October, 2005)
The Javanization of Culture: A Visual and Historical Analysis of East Javanese Temples From the Tenth to the Fourteenth Centuries CE
The purpose of Ann Kinney's book is to fill the gap in our knowledge of East Java between the tenth and the fourteenth centuries and to elucidate the connection between the religious/political cultures of this period and their accompanying art forms, such as temples, sculptures, and reliefs. A major contribution of this volume is that it reunites, at least with photographs, the East Javanese temple sites with their sculptures, many of which are scattered in museums around the world. A total of three hundred photographs and diagrams are included, providing an impressive visual record of this period. The volume thus combines historical and visual readings of art and architecture with inscriptions of East Java. It is beautifully produced and the documentation is excellent.
In the introduction of this book, Lydia Kieven gives us an overview of the period beginning 929 CE up to the end of the Majapahit kingdom around 1500 CE. She makes an interesting case for the manner in which new art styles interface with the religious and political events of the times as evidenced through architectural sites including temple buildings and precincts called candi, bathing places, hermitages and gateways (p. 40). In the subsequent chapters, Ann R. Kinney describes and explains the religious and cultural milieu that characterized the respective periods of Sindok, Airlangga and Kadiri (929-1222); Singasari (1222-1292); and Majapahit (1293-1519), referring to the sites and art forms themselves, as well as to various literatures and folk tales in her discussion.
Several major themes emerge throughout this detailed investigation, such as the importance of Indian models (both Hindu and Buddhist) and the adaptation of these ideas and structural forms in the East Javanese context. We see, through the successive East Javanese kingdoms, religion and the arts becoming increasingly detached from the Indian model and developing their own distinctive characteristics. Many examples of this are provided throughout the text as, such as in the section on Ganesa where his emergence as an independent deity during the period of political consolidation is analyzed (pp. 151f). Independent temples were dedicated to Ganesa. His worship also varied; in court he was revered for his prowess in battle, but in provincial centers he was venerated for his ability to grant wishes.
Other examples of the importance of Indian models are drawn from the elaborate reliefs that decorate the Majapahit candis of Surowono, Tigowangi and Kedaton (pp. 229-255). Scenes from the story of Arjuna depicted at Surowono and Kedaton tell us a great deal about the immense popularity of this tradition (p. 229). The Candi Panataran or the Majapahit state temple, together with its numerous inscriptions, reliefs, sculptures, and structures is remarkable for the completeness and artistic execution of reliefs related to the Ramayana (pp. 179-192). The Candi Sukuh and Candi Ceto evidence the establishment of the unusual cults of Bhima and Garuda and their elevation to semi-divine beings (p. 265). Both of these latter sites, it is argued, indicate a resurgence of or return to pre-Hindu Javanese religious practices of ancestor worship and fertility cults (p. 279).
During the Singasari and Majapahit periods new religious concepts developed merging Hinduism and Buddhism into one religious system that, in turn, took on new meaning in East Java (p. 40). The art and architecture of these periods evidence a coalescence of Hindu and Buddhist motifs.
Temples of East Java, for example, functioned as both Buddhist and Hindu sanctuaries. Here, Hindu motifs are overlaid on Buddhist sites, as for example, in the case of the meditation of Arjuna depicted in the Selomangleng caves in Tulungagung (pp. 75f) and evidence the "religious openness of Javanese during this period" (p. 79). The text makes an interesting point that Buddhist sites in East Java are comparatively few and that there are only two free-standing stupas, Sumberawan and Dadi (p. 226). Hinduism, especially the cults of Siva and Vishnu, were more popular amongst rulers of the Singasari and Majapahit periods of East Java than their Buddhist counterparts (p. 225), but they were not exclusive and Buddhism was generally accepted, especially for its meditation practices and esoteric rituals.
The mountain motif receives considerable attention throughout the text; it is linked to the mountain terrain of East Java, which functions as the abode of deceased ancestors in pre-Hindu times; the mountain motif is also linked to Mt. Meru as the abode of the gods. Mountains also emerge as important sites of meditation as exemplified in the analysis of the eighty-one terraced sanctuaries, altars, hermitages, and bathing paces on Mount Penanggungan and similar structures on Mount Lawu, Wilis, Arjuno, Ringgit and Argopuro (p. 259). Indeed, a special feature of East Javanese religious society was the elevation of sages and hermits in status and the construction of mountain hermitages (p. 40). Kinney argues that "the rshi community of ascetics were probably more attracted to caves and the terraced mountain sites for meditation than to the candis honoring deified rulers" (p. 225). Mountains are revered in East Java also as the source of holy water by Javanese Hindus, regarding them as containers of holy water (p. 40).
Another important theme is the merging of the religious and the secular (there are only a few purely secular buildings found in East Java ) and the practice of deifying rulers after death as both Buddhist and Hindu deities. Deification images depicting a king or queen and a god or goddess respectively in a single figure symbolized the unification of the deceased king/queen with his/her divine origin (p. 39). This practice is linked to the ancient East Javanese tradition of ancestor worship that is, in turn, linked to the worship of deities. The manner in which the literature and folk tales imbue rulers with supernatural lineages is illustrated by the legend of king Rajasa (Ken Angrok), the founder of the Singasari dynasty (p. 83f), evidencing the importance of establishing legitimacy and genealogical succession within the royal family (p. 86).
Especially important in this context are the monuments constructed for the worship of deified kings; several examples are provided throughout the text. Here, Hindu beliefs (e.g., the worship of a god) and pre-Hindu beliefs (ancestor worship) coalesce in rituals performed in a candi with the worship of the deceased king in a deified form. Examples include the Candi Kidal, the prototype of the East Javanese tower temple, where ritual sraddhas were performed to honor Anushapati who was enshrined there as Siva in the thirteenth century (pp. 89f). During the Majapahit era (1293-1519), memorial candis proliferated (p. 161). Numerous candis were constructed in memory of deceased members of the Majapahit royal family and the rulers of vassal states (pp. 215f). Of the candis of this period, Candi Rimbi dedicated to Queen Tribhuwana (pp. 216f), Candi Jabung to the wife of Bhra Gundal, a Buddhist relative of King Rajasanagara (pp. 220f) are especially worthy of note.
In conclusion, this volume contains a wider analysis than the title would lead one to expect. It is not only about worshiping Siva and Buddha, though these two deities are important. It is about establishing the uniqueness of East Javanese culture and the strategies by which the political was intertwined with the religious.
This volume is the product of meticulous scholarship and a high-quality resource that does much to correct the visual and historical record of this period and to bring to the forefront the importance of East Javanese kingdoms and their monuments. This book also raises several important questions that should be the subject of subsequent volumes.
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Leona Anderson. Review of Kinney, Ann R., Worshiping Siva and Buddha: The Temple Art of East Java.
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