Introduction of Ganesa Beyond
The Indian Frontiers
It is indeed surprising that Hinduism should have penetrated as
far as Borneo in the 5th century or even earlier. This is evident
from an epigraphical record discovered at Kotei which records certain
Hindu rites performed by Brahmins. Furthermore, a cave at Kombeng
contained several Brahmanical and Buddhist images among which a
majority were of the Saiva pantheon. Of these, a fine stone statue
of Ganesa shows him sitting with the usual attributes in his four
hands.3o It is a loose image and appears to have been brought with
others from some other temple which was facing destruction at the
hands of hostile barbarians. It seems that the idol is taken to
be contemporaneous with the Kotei epigraphs of 5th century and is
thus supposed to be one of the oldest statues of Ganesa known so
far. This dating however, is not supported by stylistic evidence.
Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that the statue originally
belonged to some temple on the banks of river Mahakan whence it
was brought and deposited in the cave. On stylistic grounds it can
be assigned to 8th century.
Another statue of Ganesa from Borneo shows the deity seated with
fan-shaped ears and almost straight trunk which appear to be the
characteristic of Borneo statues of Ganesa.31 Another important
feature that is common to both is that the crown looks more like
the jata- mukuta. In tJ1e present case it looks as if the hair is
combed into a round bun (dhammilla) on the top of the head and is
adorned by a tiara. The attributes in his hands are not clear. A
very interesting feature of this statue is the urna mark, or the
protruberance between the eye- brows, an important mark of greatness.
The urna is usually to be seen in the statue of Buddha in India
and its presence in Hindu images is, probably, due to the ignorance
of the artist who was perhaps used to fashion Buddha images. It
may be recalled that another marku§lJ1§a-has been noticed
in the images of Ganesa in Champa.