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Title: The continuity of pre-Islamic motifs in Javanese mosque ornamentation, Indonesia.
Author: Lee, Hee Sook
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2006
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Abstract:
The main aim of this research is to assess the continuity and significance of HinduBuddhist design motifs in Islamic mosques in Java. This is done by investigating four pre-Islamic motifs in Javanese mosque ornamentation from the 15th century to the present day. The research starts 'with a belief that typicalJavanese ornaments were consistently used both in pre-Islamic Hindu-Buddhist temples and Islamic mosques in Indonesia. This phenomenon was a result of syncretic Javanese Islam, composed ofmystic animism, Hindu-Buddhism, and Islam, which differed from orthodox Islam in the Near East and Arab world. Among many ornaments, the most frequent four motifs are prehistoric tJ/mpaLr, HinduBuddhist kala-makaras, lotus buds, and scrolls, all 'Of which have symbolic connotations and are used to decorate sanctuaries. TJ/mpaLr signify the Cosmos Mountain where gods abode; kala-makaras protect temples where the gods are believed to reside; lotus buds denote life and creation; and scrolls imply the start oflife. For a comparison between temple and mosque ornamentation, 10 Hindu-Buddhist temples and 30 mosques were purposively selected, and a representative sample of each motifwas taken during the researcher's fieldwork. In addition, 20 Indonesian scholars were interviewed to identify the origins ofmotifs in Javanese mosques. In order to answer the research questions, the background, basic type ofindicator and its subdivisions, five further characteristics, and other elements and principles of design were' investigated. Four indicators were chosen to test each of the four motifs. TJ/!JJjJaLr were examined by line, kala-makaras by shape, lotus buds by form, and scrolls by rhythm. A few examples of each motif explained how they were analysed in two stages, by the presence of each characteristic, and by its modal value and total number. This assessment was based on an amalgamation of (1) the researcher's informed judgement, trained in art and design, (2) observations during the fieldwork, (3) elements and principles of design, according to literary sources, and (4) the respect to the Indonesian cultural heritage. The findings revealed continuity in the four motifs across the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods. The continuities appeared in lines, shapes, forms, and rhythms. Lotus buds and tJ/mpaLr showed significant continuities, while kala-makaras and scrolls changed in the transfer from temples to mosques. &la-makaras needed to conform with the hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) which forbids depicting living figures in Islamic ornamentation; thus living images were rather abandoned and replaced by geometric shapes. Javanese scrolls in temples and mosques displayed the same characteristics ofrepetitive and continuous rhythms as the Islamic arabesque. Consequently, there arose a beautiful syncretism in the four motifs in ideas and forms. Hindu-Buddhist symbolism was mingled with Islamic aesthetics, whilst keeping local Indonesian characteristics. The symbolic connotations of the four motifs allowed them to continue, and their influence was dependent upon creativity oflocal genius in each epoch.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Oxford Books University, 2006 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.491184  DOI: Not available
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