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Browse Performing Arts: Indonesia: Borobudur Photos

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  Global [28,638]
An Indonesia ship, a replica of a vessel from ninth century ship based on the giant Buddhist temple of Borobudur's relief, anchored at Kangean island, Sumenep, East Java. Briton Philip Beale has breathed life into stone -- using a ninth century temple carving to build a replica of an Indonesian ship which will retrace an ancient trade route of the first millenium.
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  Global [28,638]
For nearly a millennium, the abandoned complex was heaved by earthquakes, buried in volcanic ash, and reclaimed by the lush jungle vegetation. The temple was virtually unknown by the Dutch during the colonial period in Java.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
At the base, the width of Borobudur is 410 feet; it reaches a height of 106 feet. An estimated two million cubic feet of stone were used in the construction.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
Our guide explained that Borobudur is an architectural representation of Buddhist belief. The nine levels ascending to the central stupa at the top are symbolic of the ten steps taken by a bodhisattva in attaining Nirvana. Bodhisattvas, our guide related, have vowed to forego Nirvana out of an overwhelming compassion and desire to help others attain eternal peace.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
The rising square terraces contain hundreds of bas-relief narrative panels. Now hidden by the rebuilt foundation, the base formerly depicted the sphere of desire, the state of humanity before the teachings of Buddha. Our guide shook his head as he pointed out the cemented over artwork and said they were pornographic.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
The bas-relief narratives on the next series of plateaus are designed to be read in a clockwise direction, and tell the story of Buddha's birth, life, and enlightenment. Pilgrims walk a total of three miles while viewing the narrative panels, as they attempt to attain spiritual growth, self-knowledge, and eventual enlightenment.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
On the levels leading to the circular terraces, there are hundreds of Buddhas in niches which resemble mountain caves.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
When restoration was started, early in the twentieth century, some Buddhas were missing and many had their heads broken off and sold to private collectors and museums around the world. A small number of heads have been recovered.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
There are no bas-relief panels on the three circular terraces. Each level contains Buddha statues visible within latticed stupas. There are thirty-two stupas on the first round terrace, twenty-four on the second, and sixteen on the last.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
When we reached the circular terraces, we were immediately aware of the openness and sense of freedom. The levels with the sculpted stories seemed confining and enclosing in comparison. We were again reminded of our guide's reference to the architectural symbolism of Borobudur.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
When we asked our guide why the Buddha statues were half hidden within the latticed stupas, he attempted to explain the symbolism of being and not being, existence and non-existence, spiritual within the physical. His explanation of why the stupa openings on the last of the three circular terraces are square rather than rhombic like the ones below, required more knowledge of the intricacies of Buddhist philosophy than we possessed.
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  rtompkins [4,382]
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