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Interrelationships in South and Southeast Asian Art: Cham Female Iconography, Buddhist Inscriptions and the Seated Buddha Image


The majority of archaeology in Champa consists of Hindu arts and architecture. Buddhism co-existed with Hinduism, but it was not the dominant religion. In 875 CE, Indravarman II was the first Cham ruler to actively support Buddhism with the construction of the Dong Duong temple located in present-day Binh Dinh, Vietnam. An analysis of Sanskrit Buddhist inscriptions helps shed light on Cham royal women. The inscriptions revealed that royal women and the king shared an interest in Buddhism. Narrative relief carvings from two altar pedestals displayed the prominent role of females. In addition, a rare seated Buddha statue with the legs pendant-- a posture associated with female goddesses also intensified the importance of female power. In the 9th century, the female role in art at Dong Duong is extraordinary in the Buddhist context. I argue, that the seated Buddha with the legs pendant and narrative relief panels of the Buddha's life depicted at the temple emphasized the female realm.

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