VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Stone statue of Ganesha
RMV 1403-1681
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This is one of the masterpieces of the Singasari Empire (13th century, East Java). This statue is particularly expressive. I consider it a masterpiece for scientific historical reasons also. The interpretation of the symbols depicted with Ganesha is still disputed. The skulls are usually explained by referring to Tantrism, a religious conviction of one of the Singasari kings, Kertanagara. Religious ceremonies were held on cremation fields. I am fascinated by another possible explanation. The skulls may also refer to Pre- Hindu ideas on the relationship between death and new life. It is most likely that Hinduism was the religion of the elite and that many original Javanese ideas on life and death still survived among the local population and that these ideas were also visible in the art of the elite. By dr Pieter ter Keurs, Curator Insular Southeast Asian Collections, Leiden.

History of the Object
This Ganesha comes from the main building of the temple complex, close to the village of Singasari(North of Malang). It was taken from the temple in 1804 by the Dutch Governor of East Java, Nicolaus Engelhard. Among other statues, he placed the Ganesha in his garden in Semarang. In 1819 the Ganesha and other statues were shipped to the Netherlands, but it was only in 1903 that it became part of the collection of the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology).

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Andesite 
Measurements
Weight 2500kg 
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Indonesia, Java, Tegal 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 13th century ~ AD 13th century 
Creation date
13th Century, 1275 - 1300 
Function
Representation of Shiva's son at Singasari Temple 
Acquisition
Collected in 1804. Subsequently transferred to the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, in 1841. Moved to the National Museum of Ethnology in 1903. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, the Netherlands 
Museum
National Museum of Ethnology, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde 
Credit line
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands 

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