Postgraduate Diploma Course in Southeast Asian Art and Architecture| Postgraduate Certificate Course in Southeast Asian Art and Architecture

Southeast Asian Art and Architecture

From the 5th to the 14th century, a series of Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms emerged in Southeast Asia. The cultures of these kingdoms were deeply enriched by the religious movements, texts, kingship, art/architecture, philosophy, science, scripts and gods that were of Indic origin. However the selections made by the Southeast Asian societies transformed the source material with abundant creativity. Indic seeds were planted in local earth.

With the spread of Sanskrit in text and liturgy, people crossing the Bay of Bengal in either direction, a thousand years ago, would have found enough linguistic and cultural connections between the regions of South and Southeast Asia to consider being members of a large and varied but coherent community. Even today when an Indian travels to Southeast Asia he has the impression of being in known territory. Similarly, a Southeast Asian visiting India would see some familiar figures, cults and practices of worship.

The reason for the adoption of Indic concepts and beliefs by Southeast Asian societies and the process through which, they were assimilated by the locals, are extremely difficult to pin down. The earliest Vishnu images of Southeast Asia were partly Indian in style and fully Indian in their iconography, but this need not mean that the symbolism was understood only in Indic terms. The process of acculturation begins necessarily with a perception of the relevance of the original concept, but embedding in the local culture entails new layers of meaning that are hard to determine. For example, Khmers worshipped the Indic god Vishnu, however the signification they ascribed doesn’t seem to be Indic in origin. In the vast palatial stone Angkor Wat of the 12th century, an Indian visitor will today find a 3 metre-icon of Vishnu venerated daily as the principal local earth spirit Ta Reac.

Future research has to address questions such as when and why specific Indic cultural elements came to be adopted and adapted by Southeast Asians.

The course is designed to help students familiarise themselves with Hindu-Buddhist art, and material culture of Southeast Asia from early centuries to the advancement of Islam in the 14th century. A range of approaches based on current international scholarship will enable students to critically analyse key representative monuments, sculpture and artefacts.  Students will be required to write a catalogue entry of 1000 to 1200 words on an object as an important means of reinforcing their foundational knowledge of this region.

Reading is an important part of the course. Course Scholars have prepared synopses of their lectures and selected Required Reading for each session; this material is available on our online learning management portal, JPM Think.

Lecture Schedule

February 2019

Lec 1
14 Feb '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Early state formation in Southeast Asia: Indic, Sinicized and Indigenous
- Shivani Kapoor


Lec 2
15 Feb '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
Understanding Southeast Asia in the light of Marine Archaeology
- Shivani Kapoor


Lec 3
21 Feb '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Metal Money in Southeast Asia: Exploring the Indic connections
- Amita Kini-Singh


Lec 4
22 Feb '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
Tara and Amoghapasa: the compassionate deities of the maritime trade route
- Shivani Kapoor


Lec 5
28 Feb '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Borobudur: Understanding the Shailendras and Buddhism of Central Java
- Swati Chemburkar


March 2019

Lec 6
1 Mar '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
CandiSukuh and Ceto: Analysis of the sculpture and its religious function
- Swati Chemburkar


Lec 7
7 Mar '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Kingship, Deified Royalty and Understanding the role of images in East Java
- Swati Chemburkar


Lec 8
8 Mar '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday 
Cult of Prajnaparamita across Southeast Asia
- Abira Bhattacharya


Lec 9
14 Mar '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Formalism, Gestalt, style and connoisseurship
- Swati Chemburkar


Lec 10
15 Mar '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
Discussion on various objects for the writing assignment
- Swati Chemburkar


Lec 11
22 Mar '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
Pasupata Ascetics inCambodia and Champa: The Early Śaiva landscape
- Shivani Kapoor


April 2019

Lec 12
4 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Angkor Wat: Astronomy and Cosmology: Understanding the temple symbolism through Eleanor Manikka’s scholarship
- Swati Chemburkar


Lec 13
5 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
Dancing Architecture: Understanding ‘Hall with dancers’ in Jayavarman VII’s temples
- Swati Chemburkar


Lec 14
9 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Tuesday
Overview of Khmer architecture from the Preangkorian to the Angkorian period
- Olivier Cunin


Lec 15
10 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Wednesday
Two emblematic Khmer Shaiva temples: Prasat Thom and Banteay Srei
- Olivier Cunin


Lec 16
11 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
The Khmer Mahayana Buddhist temples of the end of the 12th and the 13th century
- Olivier Cunin


Lec 17
12 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
Case of Bayon: the state temple of Jayavarman VII
- Olivier Cunin


Lec 18
18 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
Old Javanese Texts, Architecture and Iconography of central Java
- Andrea Acri


Lec 19
19 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
The Demonic Numinous in Javanese and Balinese Art
- Andrea Acri


Lec 20
23 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Tuesday
Dvaravati and the origins of Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand
- Stephen Murphy


Lec 21
24 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Wednesday
The Buddhist Boundaries markers of Northeast Thailand and Laos
- Stephen Murphy


Lec 22
25 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Thursday
The land below the winds: Maritime Southeast Asia
- Stephen Murphy


Lec 23
26 Apr '19 (03.30 – 06.00 pm) Friday
The Buddhist Kingdoms of Mainland Southeast Asia: Bagan and Sukhothai
- Stephen Murphy



Image: Buddha from Borobudur, 9th century, Java, Indonesia

This series is an exploration of the art, architecture, archaeology and history of some of Southeast Asia’s most prominent cultures. It begins with two lectures specifically focusing on Thailand and its reception of early Buddhist and Hindu concepts. In doing so, these lectures provide two case studies of how Southeast Asian cultures of the first millennium CE, adopted and adapted Hindu and Buddhist concepts to suit their own needs and practices. At the same time, they will illustrate how the arrival of these Indic religions acted as catalysts that transformed the societies they encountered. The third lecture explores the crucial role of maritime trade and connectivity in the transmission of Hindu and Buddhist concepts throughout the region. It does so by discussing some of the major ports and maritime kingdoms of Southeast Asia and their pivotal roles in the history of Buddhism in particular. The final lecture moves forward in time to discuss the Buddhist kingdoms that arose in the second millennium CE in Mainland Southeast Asia. Building on the cultures that came before them, they developed into some of the region’s most powerful and effervescent societies.

August 4, 5, 6, 7, 2019

6:30 - 8:30

Registrations Closed

Days and Timing: Thursdays and Fridays from 3:30 pm- 6:00 pm

Eligibility: Graduation Degree


  • A copy of your last degree certificate
  • Your CV
  • One  passport-sized photograph

How to Apply:
You are required to submit one passport size photograph, photocopies of your bio and last degree certificate at our center after filling in the enrollment form. Course fees are accepted only in cheque in favor of 'Jnanapravaha'