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Cambodia, Java, Khajuraho Artistry: A Glimpse into Kolkata Museum Archaeology Section

It is highly recommended to visit the Indian Museum, Kolkata to discover the roots of our ancestors and artistic expressions. Below are some fascinating highlights from my visit in August 2023.


Ganesha, remover of the obstacles as we all know him with elephant head. Parvati, his mother, commanded that he should always be the first to be revered before the start of any prayers, festivals, home related poojas, etc. First two sculptures below are from Java, part of modern day Indonesia.


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Ganesha, 8th/9th century A.D. found in Java now part of Indonesia since 1950.

indian museum kolkata
Ganesha, 8th/9th century A.D. found in Java now part of Indonesia since 1950.


A very rare sculpture of Brahma from Java. Due to fight between Vishnu and Brahma, Lord Shiva stated that Brahma shall not be worshipped. However, there are handful of temples for Brahma in Bharat. It is interesting to see that Brahma could have been revered and worshipped in Java.

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Brahma, 10th century C.E. made of sandstone from Java now part of Indonesia.


Mahishasuramardini, is Durga form of Parvati. There is no history (charithram) where she has never won the courageous battle. She has all the divinity tools to remove the negative forces that a male divinity is usually shown holding. In this sculpture, she is shown holding a few of them.

indian museum kolkata
Mahishasuramardini, 9th century C.E. made of sandstone from Java, now part of modern day Indonesia.


This is a unique seated form of Vishnu from Java, Indonesia. We know from his tools; chakra and sankh (conch).

indian museum kolkata
Vishnu, 10th century C.E. made of sandstone from Java, now part of modern day Indonesia.


After visiting Cambodia in April 2023, it is amazing to see this sculpture of Garuda which is the mount of Vishnu from Cambodia displayed at the Kolkata museum archaeology section.

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Garuda, the mount of Vishnu, 12th century C.E. made of sandstone from Cambodia

indian museum kolkata
Garuda, mount of Vishnu archaeology information


You might be wondering, what is this? There are various vyala depictions such as simhavyala (lion), sardulavyala (tiger, which is shown below), gajavyala (elephant), mahishavyala (buffalo), asvavyala (horse), etc. I can safely say I have seen these also at the Konark Sun Temple walls. The sculpture has incorporated the animal nature to represent our own natural circumstances. Animal strengths are always sculptured on the walls of the temples and we have to learn to incorporate or embody theirs into ours to gain our strength to victory in all our endeavours. This is my spiritual view.


indian museum kolkata
Sardulavyala, 10th century C.E. made of sandstone from Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

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Sardulavyala archaeology information

All credit goes to the archaeologists. Photos are from my journey to the museum. Please credit the rightful owners if you are sharing this article.


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