Yestersay I attended a lecture by Natasha Reichle, the Asian Art Museum’s associate curator of southeast Asian art, on the subject of this beautiful 13th-century stone sculpture from Singhasari, East Java. Prajnaparamita is a term meaning wisdom or learning, one might almost say scholarship. The goddess is the embodiment of of transcendental wisdom.
The sculpture is nearly symmetrical, except for the lotus at the right in the image, which holds a book of sutras, and the hands in the center, which are in the form of the gesture of “wheel-turning,” that is, the turning of the wheel of the dharma, representing the Buddha’s teachings.
Most Javanese view the sculpture as a representation not of Prajnaparamita but of Ken Dedes, the beautiful woman who gave birth to the fateful Singhasari (1222–1292) and Majapahit (1293–1500) dynasties.