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Old 17th August 2021, 03:03 PM   #12
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,901

This is a very interesting post asomotif. I have not seen a pangolin used as a hilt motif, in fact, I cannot remember seeing a pangolin used as a motif at all in Islamic era representations.

In pre-Islamic Jawa the pangolin was a powerful symbol, he was the guard of Rawana's pleasure garden, through the relationship of the pangolin with ants & flying ants in particular the pangolin was used to symbolise destruction of enemies in warfare and destruction of evil forces/demons in particular --- in Old Javanese literature ants can symbolise rakasas, pangolins eat ants. Probably a pangolin was sacrificed in the construction of one of the minor candis in the Joro Jonggrang complex, Candi Nandi (?), and used in esoteric ritual.

There is a basrelief on Candi Siwa at the Loro Jonggrang --- ie, Prambanan --- complex near Ngayogya that shows a pangolin.

In pre-Islamic Jawa the pangolin was a big deal, but maybe not so much in Islamic Jawa. My guess is that the pangolin symbolism arrived on Lombok with the 14th century immigrants from Jawa.

Really good to see survival of this symbolism, I had thought it was all but gone.


This edit is the addition of the Candi Siwa pangolin, you can see him curled up at lower right, just near the mushrooms.
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Last edited by A. G. Maisey; 17th August 2021 at 03:18 PM.
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