JACQUES-EDOUARD BERGER FOUNDATION:World Art Treasures

As first indicated by the Dutch engineer Theodoor van Erp, the bottom circle - entirely and magnificently carved in bas-relief - is hidden to viewers behind a stone encasement. The covering stones were temporarily removed at the time of the monument's first major restoration between 1907 and 1911, after which only one small corner was left open to view. The impression is that this "world of desire" was purposely hidden so that pilgrims to the site would realize they had to go beyond their earthly passions. In any case, too much of the work at this level is missing for us to imagine the scenes in full. What we have here represents but a few scenes taken from everyday life, but the fragments studied reveal that the panels depicted battles, family life, love scenes, and many examples of the preferential treatment customarily granted animals in this Oriental civilization. The latter attitude is reminiscent of ancient Egypt's mastaba (forts from the Memphite dynasties period) scenes, where people are commonly shown herding kid goats or other animals. The same life panorama animates the base of the Hindu temples: thus at Khajuraho, dating from the same period, the base is covered with scenes of battles, palace life, belly dancers, erotic situations, and so forth. These scenes represent the "karmavibhanga". In Indonesia, however, "karma" is understood a little differently than in India: it is considered really as the destiny of what we lived and, it must be said, the beauty of how that experience is depicted here is truly breathtaking.


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