Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Java, Majapahit Empire, ca. 14th to 15th century CE. An evocative terracotta votive model of a chorten (also called a stupa), a Buddhist religious monument that symbolizes the Buddha's presence. This example shows a symmetrical, tiered building. Its square base is a series of carefully incised terracotta that looks like bricks in four narrow rows; above that is a low, four-legged platform with decorative pottery that looks like cloth swags between the legs. The platform is made of multiple flat, square layers which gradually widen, creating a wide space for the footprint of the flared-footed, wide column that supports the roof. The roof is large, with four triangular faces to create a pyramidal form; this hangs out over the edges of the rest of the temple. A tall, tiered spire rises from the center. The roof is incised to give an appearance of being made from wood or overlaid fronds. Size: 7" L x 6.75" W x 12.45" H (17.8 cm x 17.1 cm x 31.6 cm)
During the later Majapahit Empire, the buildings of East Java - both religious and secular - were decorated with friezes made from stone and terracotta. A votive stupa like this would have had its place in a building like that. The brick so artfully depicted on the base of this sculpture is a delightful reminder of the brick architecture of the Majapahit capital, Trowulan, which remains today. Thin layers of brick allowed Majapahit artists to create dramatic visual effects with their buildings, as at Candi Brahu.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private De Maria collection, Italy, 1998
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Repaired and restored from multiple pieces. This is well done and almost impossible to see. Most repairs are on the edges of the roof and the corners of the lower body.