Uncovering the Hidden Meaning of Animal Reliefs at Borobudur Temple

Uncovering the Hidden Meaning of Animal Reliefs at Borobudur Temple

Have you ever wondered what those intricate animal carvings on Borobudur Temple mean?

javaprivatetour.com – These fascinating reliefs, which depict a wide variety of mammals, birds, and other creatures, are not just decorative elements. They play an important role in telling the story of Buddha’s life and teachings.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the meaning of these animal reliefs and explore the insights they offer into Buddhist philosophy.

Borobudur Animal Reliefs

The Four Roles of Animals in the Reliefs

Researchers have identified four main roles that animals play in the Borobudur reliefs:

1. Indicating location: Certain animals are associated with specific places, such as the elephant, which is a symbol of India.

2. Indicating time: The presence of certain animals can help to date specific events in Buddha’s life.

3. Serving as a means of transportation: Animals such as horses and elephants were used for transportation in ancient times, and they are depicted in the reliefs as such.

4. Serving as decorative elements: The animals also add beauty and interest to the reliefs.

Animals in the Different Stages of Buddha’s Life

Animals in the Different Stages of Buddha's Life at Borobudur Reliefs

The animal reliefs are not evenly distributed throughout the temple. They are concentrated in certain areas, which correspond to different stages of Buddha’s life.

1. The Conception and Pregnancy Stage: This stage is represented by the elephant, which symbolizes greatness.

2. The Birth and Youth Stage: This stage is represented by the horse, which symbolizes strength.

3. The Renunciation and Enlightenment Stage: This stage is represented by the pig, which symbolizes greed and attachment.

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4. The Meeting and Encounter Stage: This stage is represented by the deer, which symbolizes agility.

5. The Enlightenment and Teaching Stage: This stage is represented by the lion, which symbolizes protection.

The Most Common Animals in the Reliefs

The Most Common Animals in the Reliefs of Borobudur

The most common animals depicted in the reliefs are:

  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Tigers
  • Lions
  • Elephants

These animals were all important to people in ancient Java, and they were often used in religious and symbolic contexts.


The animal reliefs at Borobudur Temple are a fascinating and complex work of art. They offer a wealth of insights into Buddhist philosophy and the culture of ancient Java.

If you’re planning a trip to Borobudur, be sure to take some time to study these amazing reliefs. They will add a new dimension to your understanding of this iconic temple.

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Borobudur Temple Reliefs

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