Khmer sculpture on loan at the National Gallery of Australia

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7th century Standing Buddha from Kompong Speu. Source: ABC News 20140829

Three pieces of Khmer sculpture are on loan to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from the National Museum of Cambodia.

7th century Standing Buddha from Kompong Speu. Source: ABC News 20140829

7th century Standing Buddha from Kompong Speu. Source: ABC News 20140829

Cambodia loans rare Khmer sculptures to National Gallery of Australia
ABC News, 29 August 2014
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National Gallery of Australia features 2,000 years of Southeast Asian Art

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Readers in Canberra may be interested in the new exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, Life, Death and Magic: 2000 Years of Southeast Asian Ancestral Art.

Indonesia Ancestral Art Exhibition in Australia
Tempo Interaktif, 18 August 2010
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Tiny bronze commands a giant price

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03 November 2006 (Sydney Morning Herald) – A feature on the Artsmart column about the National Gallery of Australia’s $4 million acquisition of The Bronze Weaver, a statuette dating from abut 600 AD. There is also an interesting mention on the provenance of the statuette.

Tiny bronze commands a giant price

The National Gallery of Australia made headlines last week – and astonished tribal art fans – by outlaying a seemingly unprecedented $4 million for an Indonesian artifact.

The gallery’s purchase is a small Indonesian bronze figure of a weaver suckling a baby. Dubbed The Bronze Weaver, it dates from circa 600 AD.

While San Francisco authority Thomas Murray is guarded about the provenance of The Bronze Weaver, an object he evidently knows well, it appears the bronze hasn’t spent all its life in the hands of Westerners and was owned and treasured by a family on Flores as late as the 1970s.

How such a precious item could have emerged soon afterwards in the collection of a European connoisseur – whence it was bought by the National Gallery of Australia – is something of a mystery.

It’s likely the Indonesian cultural authorities will be upset the figure didn’t end up in one of their state collections.

The Bronze Weaver was apparently examined and photographed by a Harvard associate professor of art and anthropology, Marie Jeanne Adams, who in a paper published in 1977 describes it as a “previously unreported figure of exceptional artistic and historical interest” that was revered by the family that owned it.

The paper includes a photo of The Bronze Weaver being cradled by a woman on Flores, probably its owner.


Related Books:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
The bronze-iron age of Indonesia (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde) by H. R. van Heekeren

Gallery unveils the $4million Indonesian bronze statuette

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26 October 2006 (Sydney Morning Herald) – The National Gallery of Australia reveals its latest item in its collection, a 6th century bronze statuette of Indonesian origin. The article doesn’t describe the statuette’s provenance, but mentions that it was from the Javanese bronze age. This would put it around the time of the Srivijaya empire, although there is mention of an independent Bronze Age. Will have to go read that up.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Oct 2006

Gallery unveils the $4million woman

The diminutive sculpture depicts a woman nursing an infant while weaving on a foot-braced body tension loom.

Part of the myth surrounding the sculpture is the uncertainty about its age. It was believed to be too young to come from the Dong Son bronze-age culture that was centred on North Vietnam and ended in AD200, and it may have been from the Javanese Bronze Age, which peaked between the eighth and 14th centuries.

The gallery decided to have the clay core of the sculpture tested by thermo-luminescence.

The surprise result was that it was made between AD556 and 596.

Maxwell says archaeologists suggested there was an independent island bronze age in Indonesia about that time and there are several pieces in the National Gallery in Jakarta that are possibly from that period.


Related Books:
The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia (Cambridge World Archaeology) by C. Higham
The bronze-iron age of Indonesia (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde) by H. R. van Heekeren