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Open Access The Dikpālas of ancient Java revisited: A new identification for the 24 directional deities on the Śiva temple of the Loro Jonggrang complex

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The Dikpālas of ancient Java revisited: A new identification for the 24 directional deities on the Śiva temple of the Loro Jonggrang complex

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Caṇḍi Śiva, sacred centre of the famous ninth-century Loro Jonggrang temple complex at Prambanan, Central Java, is decorated with numerous iconic and narrative reliefs. Starting from the eastern staircase and traversing the perambulatory in a clockwise direction, we find the narrative reliefs of the Rāmāyaṇa on the balustrade wall on our left, and the iconic reliefs of twenty-four seated male deities, each flanked by several attendants – collectively referred to in the accompanying iconographic plan as ‘Lokapālas with attendants’– on our right, that is, on the temple body proper. The prime objective of the present inquiry is propose a new identification of this set of twenty-four deities forming Śiva’s entourage, which remains an unresolved issue in the art history of Central Java. Our findings will have implications for our understanding of the iconographical master plan of Loro Jonggrang, and, in a wider sense, of certain developments in Indo-Javanese and Balinese iconography.

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