JACQUES-EDOUARD BERGER FOUNDATION:World Art Treasures

Our image reveals various levels of terraces, showing that the monument goes from being heavily ornamented to being plain (as we visually step from the fifth to the sixth terrace, moving from the World of Form to the World of Formlessness).

The most intricately adorned level (of which one sees little since it was encased almost at its origin in stabilizing stones) features 160 carved panels depicting human joys and despair of the World of Desire. The 1300 bas-reliefs along the balustraded corridors of the square galleries forming the next five levels of terraces - the World of Form - represent scenes and teachings from the life of Buddha and the lives of 43 bodhisattvas: at this level, it is assumed that a person has achieved some mastery over worldly desires. Finally, the three circular terraces are left un adorned except for the 72 perforated stupas, each containing a statue of Buddha: this World of Formlessness cul minates in the bell-shaped but totally unadorned central stupa that is Nothingness and All.

Since around the 12th century, Borobudur lay forgotten, abandoned to the destruction wrought by dense tropical vegetation and earthquakes. The construction came almost completely loose, gradually turning into a shapeless mound. A most-deserved tribute thus belongs to those who recognized the grandeur of Borobudur and contributed to its restoration for the world to enjoy: including Sir Stamford Raffles, C. Leemans, Theodoor van Erp and, most particularly, UNESCO.


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