St. Peterburg's Hermitage Gets Sculpture of Garuda Bird, National Indonesian Symbol

On behalf of her country's government and people, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri today offered a sculpture of the mythical bird Garuda to the Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg, as a birthday present for that city's 300th anniversary.

In an acceptance speech, Hermitage Director Georgy Vilinbakhov remarked that the gift had a profound symbolic meaning. The Garuda bird is a symbol of the Indonesian state while the Winter Palace, where a sculptural representation of that bird will now be stored, is a symbol of Russian statehood, he pointed out.

Sukarnoputri said, for her part, that the Garuda bird, indeed inseparable from the history of the Indonesian Republic, epitomizes the victorious spirit. "I am sure the victorious spirit is characteristic of the Russian nation, too," she remarked. The Indonesian President expressed the hope that the Garuda bird would now also become a symbol of friendship and cooperation between her country and Russia.

The sculpture of Garuda has been made of wood by a contemporary Indonesian master, I Made Ada Astawa. It weights over 500 kilograms, and is about 3 meters tall. It has 17 feathers on the wings, 45 on the neck, and 8 on the tail. These numbers stand for August 17, 1945, the day when the Indonesian Republic was founded.