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Hindu Myths in the Art of South and Southeast Asia


Admission requirements

Having successfully finished 5481V1PGZ Premodern Histories of SSEA, 5481VS112 Classical Cultures of SSEA: Seminar I or 5481K1IBU Introduction to Buddhism and/or 5481K2IHI Introduction to Hinduism. Please, contact the student advisor, Nicole A.N.M. van Os or Mw. Dr. M.J. Klokke, if you are interested in taking this course, but do NOT fulfill the above mentioned requirement.

Course Description

This course focuses on the representation of Hindu myths and epics in the art of South and Southeast Asia. Special attention goes to text-image relationships, to the careful selection of episodes leading to new visual versions of ‘the text’ with new emphases, to the way in which art historical and culture-historical contexts play a role in the construction of meaning, and to the domestic, religious, and political use of Hindu myths and epics. Examples will in particular include reliefs and paintings on Hindu temples of India, Indonesia and Cambodia. Themes to be discussed include: the churning of the ocean by the gods; the banishment of Rama and his faithful wife Sita, the adventures of Krsna, and the meditation of Arjuna.

Course objectives

  • Advanced knowledge of the art and material culture of South and Southeast Asia.

  • Insight in the function of art in its art historical and cultural context.

  • Insight in the art historical discipline as applied to South and Southeast Asian art.

  • Academic skills to present a visual analysis, both orally and in written form.

Time table


Mode of instruction

  • Workgroup

Course Load

5 EC

  • Course: 12 × 6 h = 24h

  • Readings: 10 × 4h = 40h

  • Oral presentation: 8h

  • Take home exam: 24h

  • Essay: 44h

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation (op): 20%

  • Take home examination (wth) after block 3: 30%

  • Essay (2000 words) (wp) at the end of the course: 50%

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 6 or higher. No re-sit possible.

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Powerpoint presentations and readings (conform to copyright rules) will be posted on blackboard.

Reading list

To be announced at the beginning of the course.


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Contractonderwijs



Mw. Dr. M.J. Klokke