Primary Source

Kuwera Relief Panel at Candi Mendut, Java [Bas-Relief]


The carved stone relief is from the interior of Candi Mendut, a Buddhist temple in Central Java. Mendut was built during the early Shailendra dynasty in about 824 CE. It may have been built on the site of a Hindu temple from a previous century. The rectangular, stone temple is 26.4 meters (86.6 feet) tall and is constructed on a 2 meter (6.5 feet) platform. The surrounding wall is covered with reliefs that relate stories from Buddhist teachings along with lush carvings of plants, fruits, and flowers. This relief is one of a pair showing the goddess Hariti and her husband Kuwera (or Kubera in Sanskrit).

The relief panel on the north wall opposite Hariti depicts her consort or husband, a figure by the name of Kuwera, or the yaksha Avataka, also sometimes called Panchika. Kuwera is a god of wealth and well-being, and is a guardian of children. According to legend, Kuwera is king of the yakshas, the god of wealth who was transformed by an encounter with the Buddha into an important defender of Buddhism. Kuwera is depicted sitting on a bench surrounded by children playing and helping each other climb fruit trees. Kuwera wears an ornate headdress surrounded by flying parrots, and his right leg is extended over the edge of the bench, under which sit pots filled with jewels or other riches. Versions of such depictions of Kuwera and Hariti are found in many Buddhist temples. In Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist mythology, figures called yakshas are derived from nature spirits who may be benign or monstrous.


Shrine antechamber, northeast wall , Kuwera relief panel, 8th - 9th century Indonesia, Central Java, Mendut, Sailendra dynasty ; Photograph: Patrick Young, Set 49, Java II: Central Javanese Monuments, ARTstor Collection, Image Gallery ID Number 4916, Photo: © Asian Art Archives, University of Michigan. Annotated by Susan Douglass.

How to Cite This Source

"Kuwera Relief Panel at Candi Mendut, Java [Bas-Relief]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #355, (accessed January 22, 2022).