Kathleen O'Brien

PhD (Sydney) BA (Hons I) (Sydney)

Having been a frequent visitor to Java over the years, Kate has had a long and enduring interest in its ancient art and architecture. That interest was extended into tertiary studies relatively late in her career, earning a doctorate in 1995 through research into tantric Buddhist influences on Javanese kingship during the 13th and 14th centuries as evidenced in temple art, architecture and kakawin literature of the period. She was awarded an ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in 1996. She has authored a number of journal articles on related topics and has occasionally lectured at the NSW Art Gallery as part of their on-going "Arts of Asia" series.

Research Areas

Now retired, her interest has extended into the wider Buddhist world of the same period, particularly Tibet and Yuan China.

Current Projects

  • To publish previous work on Candi Jago.
  • Compiling a short series of lectures for U3A.


  • "Ignorance and Omniscience in the Old Javanese Kakawin, Sutasoma", in Lokesh Chandra (ed.), Society and Culture of Southeast Asia - Continuities and Changes (New Delhi, 2000).
  • "The Primordial Buddha" in Jackie Menzies (ed.), Buddha, Radiant Awakening, catalogue to exhibition held at the New South Wales Art Gallery (2002).
  • Sutasoma, the ancient tale of a Buddha-prince from 14th century Java, Orchid Press, 2008.
  • "Candi Jago as a Mandala : Symbolism of its Narratives" - in RIMA (Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs) Vol. 22/2 (1988).
  • "The Mandalas of the Sutasoma Kakawin - I", Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia, Dept. of East Asian Studies, University of Sydney (1988-89).
  • "Candi Jago: A Javanese interpretation of the Wheel of Existence?", RIMA, Vol. 24/1 (1990).
  • "The Mandalas of the Sutasoma Kakawin - II", in the Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia (1990-91).
  • "Candi Jago, East Java: Emblem of Divine Authority", in TAASA Review, Vol. 6/4 (1997).