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Notes on the Geography of Indonesia: Borobudur 2

At the bottom of Borobudur there is a row of pictures that is almost entirely blocked by a stabilizing footing added even before Borobodur was completed. The Dutch removed the footing briefly in 1885, photographed the exposed panels a few years later, then restored the footing for stability's sake. Since then, only four panels have been visible. Even they remained inexplicable until 1931, when a scholar studying these pictures of human behavior and of graphically depicted heavens and hells--especially hells--realized that they illustrated the Mahakarmavibhangga, "The Great Classification of Actions."

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Indonesia: Borobudur 2 picture 1

Looking east at the southwest corner. The footing has been removed on the left, exposing the panels.

Indonesia: Borobudur 2 picture 2

The same corner, showing the footing on both sides of it, as well as the few visible panels.

Indonesia: Borobudur 2 picture 3

The meaning of the left-hand panel is unknown.

Indonesia: Borobudur 2 picture 4

This, on the right, seems to show a woman being cared for.

Indonesia: Borobudur 2 picture 5

Around the corner, there's a graphic contrast between concupiscence, in the lower left, and temperance, at the upper right.

Indonesia: Borobudur 2 picture 6

The virtuous side of the panel, showing princely domesticity balanced by ministerial advice.


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