VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Altar Relief
IS.10-1979
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The sculpture resembles "altars" on a number of mountain shrines in Java and may have had a ritual function as the back to a seat for the gods (sanggar agung). The seat itself served as a symbol of the world mountain in which the gods reside (Mount Meru). The relief depicts Krisna, accompanied by Satyabhama, acquiring the magic wish-fulfilling tree Parijata. This legend, from a popular Javanese court poem (kakawin), was preserved in later periods through performances of the Wayang Purwa Shadow Puppet Theatre. The stylisation of the figures in this relief suggests one source for the conventions seen in the shadow puppets of east Java.

History of the Object
This double-sided relief entered the collection of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1832, the gift of a resident of Surabaya, east Java.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Stone 
Measurements
Depth: 15cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Indonesia; East Java; Majapahit 
Geography
Indonesia 
Time period
AD 15th century ~ AD 15th century 
Creation date
15th Century; early 
Function
 
Acquisition
Formerly in the Royal Asiatic Society (1832) and purchased from them in 1979. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Victoria and Albert Museum 
Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum 
Credit line
© V&A Images, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

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