Lokapala with the Bhumisparsha Mudra
This intricately carved story panel with three frames is one of the most beautiful sculptural reliefs in Prambanan located 11 miles northeast of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
At the center is Lokapala (means guardian of the world in Sanskrit) sitting on a beautifully decorated throne. Lokapalas are also guardians of the directions. For example, Indra is a Lokapala who guards the east direction.
With his eyes closed and the right-hand placed on his lap, Lokapala appears to be meditating. He is a dhyani Lokapala with the Bhumisparsha Mudra gesture. In Sanskrit, mudra literally means seal but refers to the hand gesture, and bhumisparsha means touching the earth. In this gesture, the right hand is placed on the knee with the palm facing down, and the palm is bent in such a way that the fingers point to the earth. The left hand is placed on the lap with the palm facing up. Typically, statues facing east have the Bhumisparsha Mudra, implying that the Lokapala guards the east.
To the left and right sides of Lokapala, three figures are carrying a long spoon, an unknown object (corn cob?), and a bowl with food. It appears as though they are preparing for a yagna, a sacred ritual in which food items, such as ghee, are poured into the fire as a symbol of sacrifice.
Although Prambanan is a Hindu temple complex, a strong Buddhist influence is seen in this relief.
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