Camundi image and inscription

In 1927 a Camundi statue was found in Ardimulyo village, about two kilometres north of the Singosari temple. A farmer had found the statue, but since the discovery he had often had nightmares and suffered from bad fortune in his life. He thought that the statue had given him bad luck, and so smashed it to pieces. The broken statue was then almost bought by a Dutch collector. With incredible patience, and aided by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the fragments were eventually put back together and the statue reconstructed, despite the fact that many pieces were missing.

The Camundi statue is currently in the Trowulan Museum, East Java. The statue could not be identified, even after its reconstruction, although it was known that it had been a statue of a goddess. Luckily, on the back support of the statue an inscription was found that could be read, even though some characters were missing. Based on the text, the goddess of the statue was identified as Camundi, the female counterpart of Bhairava, which places the statue in a Shaiva Tantric context.

Camundi is one of the manifestations of Durga. In the text Devimahatmyam it is said that Durga became very angry when she fought the two giant brothers, Canda and Munda. From Durga's forehead Devi Kali emerged in a very terrifying form: in an emaciated body covered by a tiger skin cloth; wearing a necklace made of human skulls with red eyes; holding a sword, a noose and an arrow; and with her tongue sticking out while uttering a very scary scream. In the battle against the giants Canda and Munda, Devi Kali was victorious. Since that time Kali has been also known by another name, Camunda or Camundi.

Statue of Camundi, Museum Trowulan

The image

The goddess is depicted as sitting cross-legged on top of two dead bodies; parts of both legs and one of the dead bodies are missing. Parts of the face and chest are also missing. The head of the statue is encircled by an oval-shaped halo. The statue is wearing a string of skulls as a necklace. The statue has eight arms. The front right arm is missing and therefore we do not know what it was holding.

The three other right arms are attached to the back plate and hold an arrow(?), a sword and an attribute that cannot be identified because it is damaged. The objects held by the four left arms, which are less damaged, can be identified as a skull-cup, the victim's hair, a bow and a noose.

The main statue has two small accompanying statues, one on each side of it; on the right is a statue of Ganesha sitting or squatting on top of a base decorated with skulls, while on the left is Shiva in his Bhairava manifestation, dancing on a row of skulls with his mount, a dog, in the background. This miniature Bhairava statue is very similar to the big one found in Singosari, now in the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. On the support plate around Camundi we can still see carvings of a trident, a small statue of a goddess seated on the back of a big fish, and a floral motif decoration.

The inscription

On the back of the Camundi statue is an eight-line inscription. Some of the characters have been damaged because the statue was smashed by the farmer, so there are some small parts that it has not been possible to reconstruct.

The first line of the inscription is written in Nagari script, a North Indian script type; the other lines are in Old Javanese script. The language is Old Javanese mixed with some Sanskrit. According to Louis-Charles Damais, the inscription gives the Shaka date 1214 (1292 AD). It states that this powerful image was erected by King Kertanagara to celebrate his victory ‘over the entire world’. It was his last inscription: soon afterwards he was killed.

Inscription on Camundi statue