Local supremacy in ancient Javanese cultural development : reassessment of the ‘Indianisation’ concept using Dieng plateau as a case study

Rizki Putri Rezna Hassan (Rizki.p.hassan@gmail.com)
Archaeology, Durham
September, 2016


Since the 1800s, the early cultural development in Dieng had always been perceived in a conventional framework of Indianisation which entailed the supremacy of the coloniser and the passive colonised. However, recent studies suggest that the Indianisation model was undermined by a lack of evidence and thus require reevaluations. Due to considerations above, this dissertation aims to explore the adaptation of Indian culture in Central Java with Dieng Temple Complex as the case study in order to understand the cultural development process in Central Java during the 7th to 10th century AD. To achieve the aim, using selected materials consists of inscriptions, temples and sculptures found at Dieng Plateau, this dissertation will reassess the Javanese role in recontextualising the Indian concept in terms of landscape and space, temple architecture, sculpture, inscriptions and epigraphy, and also the state and political system played at Dieng Plateau. The selected materials will then be compared and contrasted with South Indian styles of language and scripts, architecture and art. There are two key findings emerged from the evidences gathered : the hypothesis of monastic landscape and an alternative model of developments in the interplay between Indian influence and local culture in Dieng Plateau. This dissertation comes to the following conclusions. The first conclusion is that the combination between India and Java culture cannot be perceived as mere adoption since the new identity emerged was something in between or hybrid. The second, the term of ‘Indian’ is too large and unsubtle, so questioning the Indian imperial agenda towards Java through the Indianisation might be irrelevant. This dissertation suggests that rather than perceiving India and the imperial agenda through its modern term, it might be better to see the dynamics between Java and ‘India’ as the mutual interactions between kingdoms in which they shared cultures and value to develop each other.
Keywords: Indianisation, Dieng, Java