Imprints of the protective goddess Mahāpratisarā across Asia and her role in Java

Marijke Klokke is professor by special appointment of South and Southeast Asian Art and Material Culture at Leiden University. After studying Indian and Iranian Languages and Cultures in Leiden, with a major in the early history and art history of India and Indonesia, and minors in Old Javanese and Indonesian, she received her PhD from Leiden University in 1990. She worked as assistant curator in the Oriental Department of Leiden University Library and as curator at the Leiden Museum of Ethnology and she has been teaching at Leiden University since 1991. She has published on the Hindu and Buddhist art of Indonesia, in particular that of Java. At present her focus is on the art and architecture of Central Java that flourished in the eighth and ninth centuries.

During that period, Mahayana Buddhism played a major role in intercultural exchange throughout Asia. Inscriptions and material culture demonstrate that Central Java was centrally involved in this cultural contact. Thus, Borobudur, one of the best-known monuments of Central Java, forms a visual compilation of Buddhist texts and ideas that were circulating across Asia among the elite of that time. Less-known pieces of art provide equally fascinating stories of cultural exchange and local adaptation, as the lecture will show. It focuses on images of Mahapratisara, a protective Buddhist goddess, who is the deification of a protective spell. It presents her travel, in text and image, via the northern Silk Roads over land to China, and via the southern maritime routes to Indonesia and the Philippines. It highlights images from Central Java that give us a rare glimpse into the concerns of women in those days.

The lecture will be followed by a reception in the Front Hall.

6:00pm, 26 Apr 2018

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London