We’ll be lucky this art season if we get another exhibition as tautly beautiful as this long-overdue ‘Lost Kingdoms’ exhibition at the Muzium Negara’s Gallery 2, Kuala Lumpur.
It took almost two years for chief curator Mohd Nasrulamiazam Mohd Nasir (Nasrul), his team, and the Department of Museums of Malaysia, the National Museum of Indonesia, and the National Museum of Cambodia to assemble the 103 pieces of beautiful sandstone statues of Hindu gods with rare collections of keris with finely carved hilts, witnesses of these ancient Malaysian kingdoms lost which once ruled the Malaysian archipelago or, as it’s called today, Southeast Asia. Only their names and a few archaeological sites remain.
“Our primary source to track the existence of these kingdoms are inscription stones and steles which talk about the kingdoms of that time, ” says Nasrul during a recent interview at the museum. The goal of this exhibition is to create a historical awareness” as it shows that even before foreign powers were in this region, there was already a rich, vibrant and advanced civilization here.
Twelve lost kingdoms are represented in this exhibition, namely the kingdoms of Funan, Chenla/Zhenla, Angkor/Khmer, Pyu, Dravaravati, Champa, Langkasuka, Kedah Tua/Chieh Cha/Kataha, Srivijaya, Sailendra, Mataram/Medang, and Majapahit. Discovered, among others, in Lembah Bujang and Sungai Batu in Kedah, Malaysia, Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear, and Sambor Preikok in Cambodia, Candi Prambanan and Candi Burobudor in Indonesia and Vijayapura and Singhapura in Vietnam.
The remarkable thing about major museum shows is that they can transcend the objects themselves to become global cultural phenomena. Let’s hope that will be the case with this exhibition.
“Lost Kingdoms” – Until 30 April,
Location: Galeri 2, Jabatan Muzium Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur