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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Lesley Pullen

Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art, SOAS, University of London 1997/98 Taught Masters, History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London 2005/08


Lesley Pullen
Lesley Pullen
Email address:
Thesis title:
The Representation of Textiles on Javanese Sculpture: 9th to 14th century
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

There exists a body of stone and metal sculpture representing the deities of a syncretic Hindu Buddhist pantheon to be found in situ at temple sites across Indonesia and in museums around the world. Many of these exhibit detailed patterns on the textiles with which they are adorned. These patterns are carved in bas relief on volcanic rock, and cast and etched in bronze, in the finest detail reflecting the substantial wealth of their royal patrons.

This thesis will decipher the different textile patterns and connect them to certain periods in the art history of Java and Sumatra. Various Javanese copper plate texts, Chinese and Arab sources, and the sculptures themselves enable us to construct a chronology of the migration of cultural tradition from the ‘Indo-Javanese’ forms of Central Java in the 9th century to the more ‘Javanese’ and frequently tantric forms of East Java by the 14th  century.

Fieldwork towards this thesis has been directed along two parallel paths. The first path is multiple visits to the Hindu Buddhist temple sites both in Indonesia and across Southeast Asia. These visits have been concentrated on Central Java sites, and on the Singosari and Majapahit sites in East Java. The second path is multiple visits to the public museums across Indonesia, especially the Museum Nasional in Jakarta, and elsewhere around the world, especially the Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde in Leiden.

PhD Publications

  • Proceeding EurASEAA14 Conference, Dublin, on PhD research, Sep 2012 (Pending)
  • Proceeding 1st International Conference on Jambi Studies, on PhD research in Nov 2013
  • TAASA Review Journal, Vol. 22 No. 1, Sydney, on PhD research in March 2013
  • Kain Bebali: Sacred Cloth, Jakarta, translation, advisor and images in March 2011
  • Asian Textiles Journal, No. 46 on Indonesian Batik cultural heritage in July 2010
  • Pitt Rivers Museum Friends Journal, Naga Identity through Material Culture in Jan 2010
  • Asian Textiles Journal, No. 43 on Naga textiles identity and culture in June 2009
  • Asian Art Newspaper, on Naga Exhibitions in Switzerland in March 2008

PhD Conferences

  • Presented paper on Sumatra traditional textiles at Oriental Rug and Textile Society 2014*
  • Presented paper on History and Landscape of Java at Anglo-Indonesian Society 2013
  • Presented paper on PhD research at 1st International Conference on Jambi Studies 2013
  • Curated exhibition of Sumatra textiles at Indonesia Kontemporer at SOAS 2013
  • Presented paper on Indonesian traditional architecture at IKON at SOAS 2013
  • Chaired WEFT Art Exhibition Conference at SOAS 2013
  • Assisted curator at WEFT Art Exhibition in the Brunei Gallery SOAS 2013
  • Presented paper on PhD research at Oxford Asian Textile Group in Oxford 2012
  • Chaired panel and presented paper on PhD research at ISEND Symposium Kuching 2012
  • Presented paper on PhD research at EurASEAA14 in Dublin 2012
  • Presented paper on PhD research at Friends of National Museum in Singapore 2012
  • Presented paper on PhD research at TAASA in Sydney 2012
  • Presented paper on PhD research at National Gallery of Australia in Canberra 2012
  • Presented paper on PhD research at Indonesia Heritage Society in Jakarta 2012
  • Presented paper on PhD research at 26th ASEASUK conference in Cambridge 2011
  • Presented paper on Naga Material Culture at Royal Asiatic Society in London 2011*
  • Presented paper on Naga Material Culture at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford 2011
  • Presented paper on PhD research at EurASEAA13 in Berlin 2010
  • Curated exhibition and presented paper at The Textile Society Leicester 2010
  • Chaired event and presented paper on Royal Weaves at Asia House London 2010
  • Presented paper on Naga Identity at Royal Society for Asian Affairs London 2009
  • Presented paper on Textile Traditions at 24th ASEASUK conference in Swansea 2009
  • Presented paper on Kain Bebali at 2nd ASEAN Textile Symposium in Manila 2009
         *Available on www.backdoorbroadcasting.net


  • Associate, Threads of Life, Bali, Indonesia
  • Life Member, Asia House, London
  • Council Member, Anglo-Indonesian Society, London
  • Council Member, Oriental Rug and Textile Society, London
  • Fellow, Royal Asiatic Society, London
  • Member, Royal Geographical Society, London
  • Member, Royal Society for Asian Affairs, London
  • Member, British Malaysian Society, London
  • Member, Oxford Asian Textile Group, Oxford
  • Member, Indonesian Heritage Society, Jakarta
  • Alumna, SOAS, University of London
  • Friend of museums and institutions


  •  2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13 and 2014/15, Tutor and lecturer on the Southeast Asian Art module of the SOAS Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art programme.
    (Under Course Director Dr Heather Elgood, three month full time programme, lectures, weekly review and tutorial sessions, study trips to dealers, collectors and museums in London, Oxford and the Netherlands.)
  •  Convener and lecturer on the SOAS Specialist Art Courses ‘Textiles across Asia’ in 2013 and ‘Textiles of the Asian World’ in 2010.
  •  2011/12 Teaching Fellow for Undergraduates in the SOAS Department of the History of Art and Archaeology.  
  •  2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 occasional lecturer on MA and India module courses in the SOAS Department of the History of Art and Archaeology.
  •  2014/15 Tutor and lecturer on the Southeast Asia 800CE- Present section of the Victoria and Albert Museum Year Course Programme Arts of South and Southeast Asia, Islamic Middle East.


  • Medieval history and trade goods within Asia.
  • Material cultures in South and Southeast Asia.
  • Hindu Buddhist sculptures of the Indic traditions.
  • Austronesian and ‘tribal’ peoples in the wider region.
  • Island Southeast Asia traditional textiles and jewellery.
  • Contemporary initiatives to preserve traditional craftsmanship.