Sun Kang Kim
I had almost no knowledge about any historical or artistic idea of Southeastern Asia before I took this lecture. Fragmentary view of economics, politics, and cultures from TV and other media were only way I could hear and watch. I had strong prejudice that countries from Southeast Asia are just good place for the tourist who never experienced or saw ancient civilization, and Buddhism or Hinduism monuments. I toured Angkor Wat in Thailand without any knowledge about art when I was in middle school. However, art history of South Easter Asia from the lecture changed the prejudice to curiosity. Especially, Chandi Borobudur and some huge monuments from Indonesia were not only enough to catch my eye, but also made me to think about ancient people from Indonesia. The great structure Chandi Borobodur is closely related to the authorities of kings of Sailendra dynasty and their communication to people through unique perspective of art.
Chandi Borobudur, Chandi Pawon, and Chandi Mendut were built during Sailendra dynasty after Sanjaya, the formal dynasty, were forced to East. The specialty of these temples is located in the forest. It was good enough to think that my prejudice were wrong, because before I took this course, I thought that most of cultures and arts of South Eastern dynasties exceedingly place emphasis on fancy and showy. However, these architectures were located in silent and sacred place where people couldn’t easily explore or visit.
Also, it is known as biggest Buddhist temple in the world. The temple itself is made of some 60,000 square meters of stone, all of which had to be quarried elsewhere, shaped, and carved under the scorching tropical sun. A huge number of laborers must have worked on the colossal building, which consists of six square platform layers
topped by three circular platform layers. Borobudur is decorated with 504 Buddha statues and 2,670 beautifully-carved relief panels, with 72 stupas on top. The bas relief panels depict everyday life in 9th century Java, courtiers and soldiers, local plants and animals, and the activities of common people. Other panels feature Buddhist myths and stories, and show such spiritual beings as gods, bodhisattvas, and apsaras (Szczepanski “The Borobudur Temple”)
When I saw the pictures of Borobudur's dimensions, whether it is the size of the monument itself of reflect it has on me, I tend to wonder why this temple was built. How was it possible to pile up thousands of stone blocks to create such a magnificent structure, while at that time people had no knowledge of sophisticated tool and equipment? How did they carve the thousands of reliefs to produce a work of art? Through these decorations, carved relief panels and stupas, I can assume that the authority of king was strong during the dynasty because it is not just constructed in few years, but hundreds. Like Pyramids in desert, Egypt, this large and heavy stones should have been moved to middle of forest by a huge number of laborers with undeveloped equipment and tools. Unlike Pyramids, each stone layer and panels has its own meaning. I think that it is quite impossible that such a beautiful creation as Borobudur was carried out by the builders without a feeling of love; scene after scene of the narrative reliefs, whose number exceeds a thousands, a great number, indeed, for that age, carved by hand, not to speak of the statues of the Dhyani Buddhas, which are able to express universal peace and all parts of which were executed with precision and grace. All of these artistic expressions based on the awareness that construction of the temple was a sacred place, a deep consciousness of the greatness of the religion, and extreme respect for the ancestors.
Chandi Borobodur is also well known as mysterious architecture. Many studies had been researched on this temple to prove what this building used for and its