Monday, January 11, 2016

Relief Panels at Borobudur

As one walks through the levels of the Borobudur monument that are symbols of Buddhist cosmology, they pass by 2,760 relief panels. They are everywhere - on the rather high walls and balustrades. In fact, Borobudur is considered to have the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world.  

Some depict scenes of the life of Buddha and the life as Prince Siddhartha.

Historians can glean much from the panels about life and fashion of 8th century Java. 

Walk up and around the monument clockwise, and a fairly comprehensive retelling of Buddha's birth, life, teachings, and his progress towards Nirvana are presented.

Reverence towards nature is visible in many panels. There are about 160 hidden panels that were discovered during a restoration, but most of the foot has since been covered up again.
Some tell stories with morals, such as the panel above where the bird pulled out a bone from the lion's throat and asked for a reward - to which the lion scoffed and said that the reward was that he didn't eat the bird. Moral: Don't expect a reward when you help others.

With a total surface area of 2,500 square meters (27,000 sq ft), it would take some time to view all the relief panels. The sun now was a bit higher in the sky and more visitors were now coming, so I followed my empty stomach and went back to the hotel for breakfast.

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