Archive for the The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia Category

Sukuh

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 629

Sukuh

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others.
File:Candi Sukuh 2007.JPG

Sukuh (Indonesian: Candi Sukuh Indonesian pronunciation: [ˈtʃandi ˈsukʊh]) is a 15th century Javanese-Hindu temple (candi) that is located on the western slope of Mount Lawu (elev. 910 m or 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level) on the border between Central and East Java provinces.

Sukuh temple has a distinctive thematic reliefs from other candi where life before birth and sexual education are its main theme. Its main monument is a simple pyramid structure with reliefs and statues in front of it, including three tortoises with flattened shells and a male figure grasping his penis. A giant 1.82 m (6 ft) high of lingga (phallus) with four balls, representing penile incisions, was one of the statues that has been relocated to the National Museum of Indonesia

http://www.panoramio.com

Background

Sukuh is one of several temples built on the northwest slopes of Mount Lawu in the fifteenth century. By this time, Javanese religion and art had diverged from Indian precepts that had been so influential on temples styles during the 8-10th century. This area was the last significant area of temple building in Java before the island’s courts were converted to Islam in the 16th century. The temples’ distinctiveness and the lack of records of Javanese ceremonies and beliefs of the era make it difficult for historians to interpret the significance of these antiquities.

templeschurches.com

The founder of Candi Sukuh thought that the slope of Mount Lawe is a sacred place for worshiping the ancestors, nature spirits and the observance of the fertility cults.[3] The monument was built around 1437, as written as a chronogram date on the western gate, meaning that the area was under the rule of the Majapahit Kingdom during its end (1293–1500).Some archaeologists believe the founder had cast the fall of Majapahit, based on the reliefs that displaying the feud between two aristrocratic houses symbolizing two internal conflicts in the kingdom.

blackjack2000.wordpress.com

In 1815, Sir Thomas Raffles, the ruler of Java during 1811–1816, visited the temple and he found the temple in a bad condition. In his account, there were many statues that had been thrown down on the ground and most of the figures had been decapitated. Raffles also found the giant lingga statue broken into two pieces which was then glued together. This vandalism of traditional culture (especially where sexuality is not suppressed, as in the statues) is likely to be an effect of the Islamic invasion of Java during the 16th century, based upon the identical patterns found in all other Islamic and monotheistic invasions generally.

blog.travelpod.com

Architecture

File:Erotic depiction at Candi Sukuh.jpg

A relief of yonilingga on the floor of the Candi Sukuh’s entrance

The central main pyramid of the complex sits at the rear of the highest of three terraces. Originally, worshippers would have accessed the complex through a gateway at the western or lowest terrace. To the left of the gate is a carving of a monster eating a man, birds in a tree, and a dog, which is thought to be a chronogram representing 1437 CE, the likely date of the temple’s consecration. There is an obvious depiction of sexual intercourse in a relief on the floor at the entrance where it shows a paired lingam which is represented physiologically by the (phallus) and yoni which is represented bodily by the (vagina). Genitalia are portrayed on several statues from the site, which is unique among Javanese classical monuments.

http://www.travelpod.com

The main structure of Sukuh temple is like no other ancient edifice; a truncated pyramid reminiscent of a Maya monument and surrounded by monoliths and meticulously carved life-sized figures. Sukuh temple is not follows Hindu architecture Wastu Vidya due to Sukuh temple is built when Hindu religion is weakened. Usually the temple shape is rectangle or four square, but Sukuh temple is trapezium with three terraces which one terrace is higher of other in the backward.[6] A stone stairway rises through the front side of the pyramid to its summit. It is not known what the monument’s unique shape was intended to symbolise. One theory is that it represents a mountain, however, why it replaced pre-existing forms of ancient Javanese temple design. There is no evidence that the main building supported a wooden structure. The only object recovered from its summit was a 1.82-metre lingga statue bearing an inscription and is now in the National Museum of Indonesia). The statue may once have stood on the platform over the stairway. The lingga statue has a dedicated inscription carved from top to bottom representing a vein followed by a chronogram date equivalent to 1440. The inscription translates “Consecration of the Holy Ganges sudhi in … the sign of masculinity is the essence of the world. Reliefs of a kris blade, an eight-pointed sun and a crescent moon decorate the statue.

http://www.flickr.com

On the wall of the main monument there is a relief portraying two men forging a weapon in a smithy with a dancing figure of Ganesha, the most important Tantric deity, having a human body and the head of an elephant. In Hindu-Java mythology, the smith is thought to possess not only the skill to alter metals, but also the key to spiritual transcendence.[5] Smiths drew their powers to forge a kris from the god of fire; and a smithy is considered as a shrine. Hindu-Javanese kingship was sometimes legitimated and empowered by the possession of a kris.

File:Statue at Candi Sukuh.jpg

A headless life-sized male figure grasping penis

The elephant head figure with a crown in the smithy relief depicts Ganesha, the god who removes obstacles in Hinduism. The Ganesha figure, however, differs in some small respects with other usual depictions. Instead of sitting, the Ganesha figure in Candi Sukuh’s relief is shown dancing and it has distinctive features including the exposed genitalia, the demonic physiognomy, the strangely awkward dancing posture, the rosary bones on its neck and holding a small animal, probably a dog. The Ganesha relief in Candi Sukuh has a similarity with the Tantric ritual found in the history of Buddhism in Tibet written by Taranatha. The Tantric ritual is associated with several figures, one of whom is described as the “King of Dogs” (Sanskrit: Kukuraja), who taught his disciples by day, and by night performed Ganacakra in a burial ground or charnel ground.

http://www.hpgrumpe.de

Other statues in Candi Sukuh include a life-sized male figure with his hand grasping his own penis and three flattened shells of tortoises. Two large tortoise statues guard the pyramid entrance and the third one lies at some distance in front of the monument. All of their heads point to the west and their flattened shells may provide altars for purification rituals and ancestor worship. In Hindu mythology, the tortoise symbolizes the base or support of the World and is an avatar of Vishnu, i.e. Kurma refer: Ocean of Milk.

http://www.flickr.com

Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 628

Bandungan and Gedong Songo Temple

This is a resort on the slope of mount Ungaran, about 900 meters above sea level. Gedong Songo (nine buildings), a group of small 8th century Hindu Javanese temples, can be reached either by car or on horseback from the town Ambarawa.

Built at about the same time as the temples of the Dieng complex, Gedong Songo is one of the most beautifully sited temple complexes in Central Java and the views alone are worth the trip. Gedung Songo (‘Nine Buildings’) belong to the earliest antiquities of Java, they follow up the temples on the Dieng Plateau directly, for what about time.

They were also built high in the mountains in an area full with volcanic activity; and they were also from Hinduist origin. But where the temples on Dieng Plateau are somewhat squeezed into a foggy valley, Gedung Songo are spread over the higher parts of the mountains, which guarantee a splendid view. On clear days, the horizon is one long row of volcanoes, from mount Lawu in the east, towards mount Sumbing, mount Sundoro and Dieng Plateau in the west.

The temples were built between 730 and 780, the first temple excepted, which could have been built some 30 years later. Gunung Songo is not the original name and also doesn’t point at the number of structures. The number nine has a special meaning in the Javanese culture, in which there is a strong attachment to numbers. The temples are located at about the same distance from each other (100 meters, 200 meters) on a naturally formed terrace of edge of a mountain.

 

Mendut and others.

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 527

Mendut

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others.
File:Mendut Temple Afternoon.jpg
Mendut is a ninth century Buddhist temple, located in Mendut village, Mungkid sub-district, Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. The temple is located about three kilometres east from Borobudur. Mendut, Borobudur and Pawon. all of which are Buddhist temples, are located in one straight line. There is a mutual religious relationship between the three temples, although the exact ritual process is unknown

History

File:COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM De Candi Mendut TMnr 10015974.jpg

The ruins of Mendut temple before restoration, 1880.

Built around early ninth century AD, Mendut is the oldest of the three temples including Pawon and Borobudur. The Karangtengah inscription, the temple was built and finished during the reign of King Indra of Sailendra dynasty. The inscription dated 824 AD mentioned that King Indra of Sailendra has built a sacred building named Venuvana which means “bamboo forest”. Dutch archaeologist JG de Casparis has connected the temple mentioned in Karangtengah inscription with Mendut temple.

http://www.wisatanesia.com

In 1836 it was discovered as a ruins covered with bushes. The restoration of this temple was started at 1897 and it was finished at 1925. Some archaeologists who had conducted research on this temple were JG de Casparis, Theodoor van Erp, and Arisatya Yogaswara.

Architecture

File:Buddha Mendut.jpg

The statue of Dhyani Buddha Vairocana, Avalokitesvara, and Vajrapani inside the Mendut temple

The 26.4 metres tall temple is facing northwest. The stairs projecting from the northwest side square elevated base is adorned with Makara statue on each sides, the side of the stairwall carved with bas-relief of Jataka fable narrating the animal story of buddhist teaching. The square terrace surrounding the body of the temple was meant for pradakshina or circumambulating ritual, walking clockwise around the temple. The outer walls is adorned with bas-reliefs of Boddhisattvas (buddhist divinities), such as Avalokitesvara, Maitreya, Cunda, Ksitigarbha, Samantabhadra, Mahakarunika Avalokitesvara, Vajrapani, Manjusri, Akasagarbha, and Boddhisattvadevi Prajnaparamita among other buddhist figures.

http://www.flickr.com

Originally the temple had two chambers, a small chamber in the front, and the large main chamber in the center. The roof and some parts of the front chamber walls are missing. The inner wall of front chamber is adorned with bas-relief of Hariti surrounds by children, Atavaka on the other side, Kalpataru, also groups of devatas divinities flying in heaven.

Location three Buddhist temples, Borobudur-Pawon-Mendut, in one straight line across Progo River.

The main room housed three beautifully carved large stone statues. The three statues are the Buddhist main divinities revered in Mendut temple which can explain the spiritual purpose of the establishment of this temple. The 3 metres tall statue of Dhyani Buddha Vairocana was meant to liberate the devotees from the bodily karma, at the left is statue of Boddhisatva Avalokitesvara to liberate from the karma of speech, at the right is Boddhisatva Vajrapani to liberate from karma of thought.

Candi Mendut – Reliefs  www.hpgrumpe.de

http://www.flickr.com

Kalasan

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 626

Kalasan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others
File:Kalasan Temple.jpg
Kalasan (Indonesian: Candi Kalasan), also known as Candi Kalibening, is an 8th century Buddhist temple in Indonesia. It is located 13 km east of Yogyakarta on the way to Prambanan temple, on the south side of the main road ‘Jalan Solo’ between Yogyakarta and Surakarta.

History

According to a Kalasan inscription dated 778 AD, written in Sanskrit using Pranagari script, the temple was erected by the will of Guru Sang Raja Sailendravamçatilaka (the Jewel of Sailendra family) that succeed to persuade Maharaja Tejapurnapana Panangkaran (in other part of the inscription also called as Kariyana Panangkaran) to construct a holy building for the goddess (boddhisattvadevi) Tara and also build a vihara (monastery) for buddhist monks from Sailendra family’s realm. Panangkaran awarded the Kalaça village to sangha (buddhist monastic community).. According to the date of this inscription, Kalasan temple is the oldest among temples built in the Prambanan Plain.

http://www.panoramio.com

Despite being renovated and partially rebuilt during the Dutch colonial era, the temple currently is in poor condition. Compared to other temples nearby such as Prambanan, Sewu, and Sambisari the temple is not well maintained.

 Architecture

File:Kalasan Kala.jpg
The giant Kala’s head on the southern door
File:Kalasan Niche.jpg

One of the niches on the wall of Kalasan temple adorned with carvings of Kala giant and scene of deities in svargaloka

The temple stands on square 14.20 meters sub-basement. The temple plan is cross-shaped 12 corners polygon. Each of four cardinal points have stairs and gates adorned with Kala-Makara and also have rooms measured 3,5 square meters. No statue is found in the smaller room facing north, west, and south; but the lotus pedestals suggested that the rooms once contains statues of bodhisattvas. The temple is richly decorated with buddhist figures such as bodhisattva and gana. The Kala Face above the southern door has been photographed and used by a number of foreign academics in their books to give an idea of the artistry in stone by Central Javanese artists of a millennia ago. Niches where the statues would have been placed are found inside and outside the temple. The niches adorned outer wall intricately carved with Kala, gods and divinities in scene of svargaloka, celestial palace abode of gods, apsaras, and gandharvas.

http://www.panoramio.com

The roof of the temple is designed in three sections. The lower one are still according to the polygonal shape of the body and contains small niches with statues of boddhisatvas seated on lotus. Each of this niches is crowned with stupas. The middle part of the roof is in octagonal (eight sided) shape. Each of this eight sides adorned with niches contains statue of a Dhyani Buddha flanked by two standing boddhisatvas.The top part of the roof is almost circular and also have 8 niches crowned with single large dagoba. The octagonal aspect of the structure has led to speculation of non-buddhist elements in the temple, similar to some interpretations of the early Borobudur structure.

http://www.panoramio.com

The temple is facing east, with eastern room also served as access to main central room. In the larger main room there is lotus pedestal and throne carved with makara, lion, and elephant figure, similar to the Buddha Vairocana throne founds in Mendut temple. According to the Kalasan inscription, the temple once houses the large (probably reaching 4 meters tall) statue of the Boddhisattvadevi Tara. By the design of the throne, most probably the statue of the goddess was in seated position and made from bronze. Now the statue is missing, probably the same fate as bronze Buddha statue in Sewu temple, being looted for scrap metal over centuries.

Kempers, A.J. Bernet. 1978. Herstel in Eigen Waarde; Monumentenzorg in Indonesie. Amsterdam: De Walburg Pers Zutphen. Gambar 70 – Candi Kalasan, na de restauratie van 1926/29 (blz. 128) siwagrha.wordpress.com

On the outer wall of the temple found the traces of plaster called vajralepa (lit: diamond plaster). The same substance also founds in nearby Sari temple. The white-yellowish plaster was applied to protect the temple wall, but now the plaster has worn off.

http://www.borobudur.tv

The temple is located on archaeologically rich Prambanan valley. Just a few hundred meters north east from Kalasan temple is located Sari temple. Candi Sari most probably was the monastery mentioned in Kalasan inscription. Further east lies the Prambanan complex, Sewu temple, and Plaosan temple.

http://www.borobudur.tv

RATU BOKO Temple

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 625

  RATU BOKO Temple

Ratu Boko the lost Masterpiece Palace Complex from the 8th century, the only Hindu and Buddhist Mixed-architectural Archeological site

The history of Ratu Boko, begin with Prambanan The original architectural layout and design is not fully known, within the 19.6 Ha of land on top of the hill, there remain the stone basements of pendopo hall (on which stood wooden building) and other palace building, a structure that was presumably a water tank or a bathing place man-made flat terrace and ruins of stone walls.[Source: Borobudur Prambanan, National Archeological Park, JICA: 1979]

The history of Ratu Boko, begin with Prambanan are a large number of inscription  dating from the second half of the eight century to the middle of ninth century have been found on Ratu Boko hill and at the Kalasan, Loro Jonggrang, Sewu, Plaosan and other candi. In particular, the Sanskrit inscription dated in 856 AD is important. From them it can be summarized that the Buddhist Shailendra dynasty and the Hindu Mataram often cooperated with one another but that in the middle of the ninth century the later defeated the former.

When we heard the word Kraton (Palace), our imagination will automatically think about Rakai, Palace and the Royal facilities. But those that we imagine can’t be found at Ratu Boko Kraton, when it was found, and who gave the name. According to the ancient inscription that was made by Rakai Panangkaran in 746-784 AD, at the beginning the building around Ratu Boko heritage site is called Abhayagiri Wihara. Abhaya means no danger or peace.

Abhayagiri means the Buddhist monks dormitory/wihara that is located at the peaceful area on top of the hill. In the next period between 856-863 AD, Abhayagiri Wihara changed its name became Walaing Kraton that is proclaimed by Vasal Rakai named Rakai Walaing Pu Kumbayoni. Mandyasih inscription, which was built in 898-908 AD by Rakai Watukara Dyah Balitung, still mentioned Walaing as the pedigree of Punta Tarka who made Mantyasih inscription. From the beginning of 10th century until the end of 16th century, there is no news about Kraton Walaing.

The Shailendra stronghold at that time was Ratu Boko hill, and three kinds of “lingga” were erected to commemorate the Mataram victory. Prior to that, “candi Siwa” probably meaning candi Loro Jonggrang, was built. Much still unknown, but more and more of the history of that time will no doubt come to light in time with the discovery of more such inscription if they are carefully preserved.

For those who love, within the mind’s eye to reconstruct history, Ratu Boko is a dream. The main site is on a small plateau. The trek is best done at dawn or in the late afternoon when the views from the plateau’s ridge are most beautiful. Ratu Boko was probably a fortified palace built by the Buddhist Sailendra and later taken over y Hindu Mataram.

File:Ratuboko Gate.jpg

The gate of Ratu Boko Palace compound. Made from andesite stone. The gate is arranged in two row of three ascending gate. This was the second row of upper gate. The compound located on the hill and well protected by series of wall. It was probably a fortified palace or living quarter of the king. Dated back to 8th century en:Sailendra and Hindu en:Mataram era.

Little remains apart from a huge, sparsely ornamented gateway and a series of foundations and bathing places, but the atmosphere are enchanting. A few hundred meters to the south on another small plateau (linked with the first, but difficult to find) is a large stone platform with decorated waterspouts and staircases surrounded by an empty moat; a little below the platform, through kala-head gateway, is a group of tranquil green pools, one of which is still used by the villages.

According to HJ. DeGraff, in 17th century there were many European travelers who came to Indonesia. Those travelers said that there was also a heritage site which mentioned about Prabu Boko who came from Bali. Ninety years later, in 1790. Van Boeckholtz found the heritage ruin above Ratu Boko heritage sites.

The Publishing of this founding attracted scientists like Makenzic, Junghun and Brumun who came to visit and made recording about the heritage site at Ratu Boko Hill in 1814. One hundred years later, FDK Bosch made a research and reported it which entitled “Kraton Van Ratoe Boko”. According to FDK Bosch, the site at Ratu Boko Hill is known as Kraton Ratu Boko.

People who live around Ratu Boko Hill usually call it as Dawun, temple just like the name of their village. That is why in some literatures and old maps, Ratu Boko Hill is written in 2 (two) name: Dawung Temple and Kraton Ratu Boko van Ratoe Boko.

The name of Kraton Ratu Boko comes from the word Kraton van, Ratu Boko. Kraton is from Ka-da-tu-an that means King’s or Rakai’s Place. Ratu Boko comes from the word Ratu which has the meaning as King and Boko is heron. This understanding comes up with question whether the King of Heron is the ruler himself or the real bird. Therefore, people say that Ratu Boko keeps a mystery up to now.

 

Prambanan

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 624

Prambanan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others.

Candi Prambanan or Candi Rara Jonggrang is a 9 century Hindu temple compound inCentral Java, Indonesia, dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound is located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta city on the boundary between Yogyakarta and Central Java province.

Image : indonesian-beautiful-amryzalperdana.blogspot.com

The temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and is one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples. One of the most majestic temples in the Southeast Asia, Prambanan attracts many visitors worldwide

File:Prambanan Trimurti.jpg
Country Indonesia
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iv
Reference 642
Region ** Asia-Pacific
Coordinates 7°45′8″S 110°29′30″E / 7.75222°S 110.49167°E / -7.75222; 110.49167
Inscription history
Inscription 1991 (15th Session)
Prambanan is located in Indonesia

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Location of Prambanan in Indonesia
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List ** Region as classified by UNESCO

 History

 Construction

File:Hindu Temple in Java , Indonesia.jpg

The Prambanan temple compound amids the morning mist.

Prambanan is the largest Hindu temple of ancient Java, and the construction of this royal temple was probably started by Rakai Pikatan as the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty’s answer to the Buddhist Sailendra Dynasty’s Borobudur and Sewu temples nearby. Historians suggest that the construction of Prambanan probably was meant to mark the return of the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty to power in Central Java after almost a century of Buddhist Sailendra Dynasty domination. Nevertheless, the construction of this massive Hindu temple signifies that the Medang court had shifted the focus of its patronage from Mahayana Buddhism to Shivaist Hinduism.

http://famouswonders.com/prambanan-temple/

A temple was first built at the site around 850 CE by Rakai Pikatan and expanded extensively by King Lokapala and Balitung Maha Sambu the Sanjaya king of the Mataram Kingdom. According to the Shivagrha inscription of 856 CE, the temple was built to honor Lord Shiva and its original name was Shiva-grha (the House of Shiva) or Shiva-laya (the Realm of Shiva). According to Shivagrha inscription, a public water project to change the course of a river near Shivagrha Temple was conducted during the construction of the temple. The river, identified as the Opak River, now runs north to south on the western side of the Prambanan temple compound. Historians suggest that originally the river was curved further to east and was deemed too near to the main temple. The project was done by cutting the river along a north to south axis along the outer wall of the Shivagrha Temple compound. The former river course was filled in and made level to create a wider space for the temple expansion, the space for rows of pervara (complementary) temples.

http://tourism-zones.com/prambanan-temple/

Some archaeologists propose that the statue of Shiva in the garbhagriha (central chamber) of the main temple was modelled after King Balitung, serving as a depiction of his deified self after death.[5] The present name Prambanan, was derived from the name of Prambanan village where the temple stood, this name probably being the corrupted Javanese pronunciation of “Para Brahman” (“of the brahmins“), doubtless an echo its heyday when the temple was filled with great numbers of brahmins.

http://tunjungnesta.wordpress.com/2010/

The temple compound was expanded by successive Mataram kings such as Daksa and Tulodong with the addition of hundreds of perwara temples around the chief temple. Prambanan served as the royal temple of the Kingdom of Mataram, with most of the state’s religious ceremonies and sacrifices being conducted there. At the height of kingdom, scholars estimate that hundreds of brahmins with their disciples lived within the outer wall of the temple compound. The urban center and the court of Mataram were located nearby, somewhere in the Prambanan Plain.

http://www.world-travel-photos.com/routard-pays-photo-308

 Abandonment

In the 930s, the court was shifted to East Java by Mpu Sindok, who established the Isyana Dynasty. An eruption of Mount Merapi volcano, located north of Prambanan in central Java, or a power struggle probably caused the shift. That marked the beginning of the decline of the temple. It was soon abandoned and began to deteriorate.

The temples themselves collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century. Although the temple ceased to be an important center of worship, the ruins scattered around the area were still recognizable and known to the local Javanese people in later times. The statues and the ruins become the theme and the inspiration for the Loro Jonggrang folktale. After the division of Mataram Sultanate in 1755, the temple ruins and the Opak River were used to demarcate the boundary between Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo) Sultanates.

 Rediscovery

File:Prambanan 1895.jpg

The ruins of Prambanan soon after their discovery.

The Javanese locals in surrounding villages already aware of the temple ruins existence, however they did not know the historical background about which kingdoms or who was the king that commisioned the construction of such monuments. As the result, the locals developed the tales and legends tried to explain the origin of temples; infused with the myth of giants, the cursed princess, and the wonderous origin of the Prambanan and Sewu temple ruins said to be created by multitude of demons under the order of Bandung Bondowoso, according to Loro Jonggrang legend.

http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/henniterness/1/1303229552

The temple officially caught the international attention in early 19th century. In 1811 during Britain’s short-lived rule of the Dutch East Indies, Colin Mackenzie, a surveyor in the service of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, came upon the temples by chance. Although Sir Thomas subsequently commissioned a full survey of the ruins, they remained neglected for decades, with Dutch residents carting off sculptures as garden ornaments and native villagers using the foundation stones for construction material.

Image : interiorsdesignpreview.com

Half-hearted excavations by archaeologists in the 1880s merely facilitated looting. Reconstruction of the compound began in 1918, and proper restoration only in 1930. Efforts at restoration continue to this day. The reconstruction of the main Shiva temple was completed around 1953 and inaugurated by Sukarno. Since much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites, hampering restoration and since a temple can be rebuilt only if at least 75% of the original masonry is available, only the foundations of most of the smaller shrines are now visible with no plans for their reconstruction.

 Contemporary events

File:Ramayana dance performance at Prambanan Temple.jpg

Ramayana dance performance in Prambanan.

File:Prambanan at night.jpg

Prambanan nightview from the Trimurti open-air stage.

In the early 1990s the government removed the market that had sprung up near the temple and transformed the surrounding villages and rice paddies into an archaeological park. The park covers a large area, from Yogyakarta-Solo main road in the south, encompassing the whole Prambanan complex, the ruins of Lumbung and Bubrah temples, and as far as the Sewu temple compound in the north. In 1992 the Indonesian government created a State-owned Limited Liability Enterprise (PERSERO) of PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan, dan Ratu Boko. This enterprise is the authority for the park management of Borobudur Prambanan Ratu Boko and the surrounding region. Prambanan is one of the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia.

Image : http://www.panoramio.com

The open-air and indoor stages on the west side of the temple right across the Opak river, were built to stage the Ramayana ballet. This traditional Javanese dance is the centuries old dance of the Javanese court, performed every full moon night in the Prambanan temple since the 1960s. Since then, Prambanan has become one of the major archaeological and cultural tourism attractions in Indonesia.

After the reconstruction of the main temples in 1990s, Prambanan once again reclaim its status as an important religious center for Hindu rituals and ceremonies in Java. The religious significance revival of Prambanan was due to Balinese and Javanese Hindu communities in Yogyakarta and Central Java that annually perform their sacred ceremonies in Prambanan, such as Galungan, Tawur Kesanga, and Nyepi.

Image : http://www.bodew.com

The temple was damaged during the May 2006 Java earthquake. Early photos suggested that although the complex was structurally intact, the damage was significant. Large pieces of debris, including carvings, were scattered over the ground. The temple was closed to visitors until the damage could be fully assessed. Eventually, the head of Yogyakarta Archaeological Conservation Agency stated that it would take months to identify the precise extent of the damage. However, some weeks later in 2006 the site was re-opened for visitors. In 2008, 856,029 Indonesian visitors and 114,951 foreign visitors has visited Prambanan. In 6 January 2009 the reconstruction of Nandi temple finished. As of 2009, the interior of most of the temples remains off-limits for safety reasons.

 The temple compound

This information does not take account of damage caused by the 2006 Java earthquake
File:Prambanan Architectural Model.jpg

An architectural model of the Prambanan temple complex, originally there was 240 temples stood in this temple compound

Originally there was total 240 temples stood in Prambanan. The Prambanan Temple Compound consist of:

  1. 3 Trimurti temples: three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Visnu, and Brahma
  2. 3 Vahana temples: three temples in front of Trimurti temples dedicated to the vahana of each gods; Nandi, Garuda, and Hamsa
  3. 2 Apit temples: two temples located between the rows of Trimurti and Vahana temples on north and south side
  4. 4 Kelir temples: four small shrines located on 4 cardinal directions right beyond the 4 main gates of inner zone
  5. 4 Patok temples: four small shrines located on 4 corners of inner zone
  6. 224 Pervara temples: hundreds of temples arranged in 4 concentric square rows; numbers of temples from inner row to outer row are: 44, 52, 60, and 68

The Prambanan compound also known as Rara Jonggrang complex, named after the popular legend of Rara Jonggrang. There were once 240 temples stood in this Shivaite temple complex, either big or small.[11] Today, all of 8 main temples and 8 small shrines in inner zone are reconstructed, but only 2 out of the original 224 pervara temples are renovated. The majority of them have deteriorated; what is left are only scattered stones. The Prambanan temple complex consists of three zones; first the outer zone, second the middle zone that contains hundreds of small temples, and third the holiest inner zone that contains eight main temples and eight small shrines.

Image : ivanterzic.wordpress.com

The Hindu temple complex at Prambanan is based on a square plan that contains a total of three zone yards, each of which is surrounded by four walls pierced by four large gates. The outer zone is a large space marked by a rectangular wall. The outermost walled perimieter, which originally measured about 390 metres per side, was oriented in the northeast, southwest direction. However, except for its southern gate, not much else of this enclosure has survived down to the present. The original function is unknown; possibilities are that it was a sacred park, or priests’ boarding school (ashram). The supporting buildings for the temple complex were made from organic material; as a consequence no remains occur.

 Shiva temple

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Main shrine dedicated to Shiva of Prambanan temple complex

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The statue of Durga Mahisasuramardini in northern cella of Shiva temple.

The inner zone or central compound is the holiest among the three zones. Its the square elevated platform surrounded by square stone wall with stone gates on each four cardinal points. This holiest compound is assembled of eight main shrines or candi. The three main shrines, called Trimurti (“three forms”), are dedicated to the three gods: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Keeper, and Shiva the Destroyer.

The Shiva temple is the tallest and largest structure in Prambanan Loro Jonggrang complex, it measures 47 metres tall and 34 metres wide. The Shiva temple encircled with galleries adorned with bas-reliefs telling the story of Ramayana carved on the inner walls of the balustrades. To follow the story accordingly, visitors must enter from the east side and began to perform pradakshina or circumambulating clockwise. The bas-reliefs of Ramayana continued to Brahma temple galleries.

Image : blog.travelpod.com

The Shiva shrine located at the center and contains five chambers, four small chambers in every cardinal direction and one bigger main chamber in central part of the temple. The east chamber connect to central chamber that houses the largest temple in Prambanan, a three meter high statue of Shiva Mahadeva (the Supreme God). The statue bears Lakçana (attributes or symbol) of Shiva such as skull and sickle (crescent) at the crown, and third eye on the forehead, also four hands that holds Shiva’s symbols: a prayer beads, feather duster, and trisula (trident). Some historians believe that the depiction of Shiva as Mahadeva also meant to personify king Balitung as the reincarnation of Shiva. So, when he died, a temple was built to commemorate him as Shiva. The statue of Shiva stands on lotus pad on Yoni pedestal that bears the carving of Nāga serpents on north side of pedestal.

The other three smaller chambers contain statues of Hindu Gods related to Shiva; his consort Durga, the rishi Agastya, and Ganesha, his son. Statue of Agastya occupy the south chamber, the west chamber houses the statue of Ganesha, while the north chamber contains the statue of Durga Mahisasuramardini depicting Durga as the slayer of Bull demon. The shrine of Durga is also called the temple of Rara Jonggrang (Javanese: slender virgin), after a Javanese legend of princess Rara Jonggrang.

Photo of Statue near Prambanan Temple  http://www.panoramio.com

 Brahma and Vishnu temples

The two other main shrines are that of Vishnu on the north side of Shiva shrine, and the one of Brahma on the south. Both temple facing east and each contain only one large chamber, each dedicated to respected gods; Brahma temple contains the statue of Brahma and Vishnu temple houses the statue of Vishnu. Brahma and Vishnu temple measures 20 metres wide and 33 metres tall.

 Vahana temples

The other three shrine in front of three main temples is dedicated to vehicle (vahana) of the respective gods – the bull Nandi for Shiva, the sacred swan Hamsa for Brahma, and Vishnu’s Eagle Garuda. Precisely in front of Shiva temple stands Nandi temple which contains a statue of Nandi bull, the vehicle (vahana) of Lord Shiva. Besides it, there is also other statues, the statue of Chandra the god of moon and Surya the god of sun. Chandra stands on his carriage pulled by 10 horses, and the statue of Surya also standing on a carriage pulled by 7 horses. Facing Brahma temple is the temple of Hamsa or Angsa (sacred swan). In the chamber of this temple contains no statue. But it seems likely that there was once a statue of the sacred swan, vehicle of god Brahma. In front of Vishnu temple is the temple dedicated for Garuda, however just like the Hamsa temple, Garuda temple contains no statue. Probably this temple once contains the statue of Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu. Garuda holds important role for Indonesia, which serves as the national symbol of Indonesia, also to the airline Garuda Indonesia.

Image : godjaymurder.deviantart.com

 Apit temples and smaller shrines

Between these row of main temple, on north and south side stands two Candi Apit. Beside these 8 main temples, there’s also 8 smaller shrines; 4 Candi Kelir on four cardinal direction of the entrance, and 4 Candi Patok on four corner of inner zone.

 Pervara temples

The two walled perimeters that surround the remaining two yards to the interior are oriented to the four cardinal points. The second yard’s walled perimeter, which measures about 225 metres per side, surrounds a terraced area that consists of four rows containing 44, 52, 60, and 68 pervara temples. Respectively, each with a height of 14 metres and measuring 6 metres x 6 metres at the base, or 224 structures in total. The sixteen temples located at the corners of the rows face two directions; the remaining 208 structures open to only one of the four cardinal directions.

Image : whc.unesco.org

The middle zone consists of four rows of 224 individual small shrines. There are great numbers of these temples, but most of them are still in ruins and only some have been reconstructed. These concentric rows of temples were made in identical design. Each row towards the center is slightly elevated. These shrines are called “Candi Perwara” guardian or complementary temples, the additional buildings of the main temple. Some believed it was offered to the king as a sign of submission. The Perwara are arranged in four rows around the central temples, some believed it has something to do with four castes, made according to the rank of the people allowed to enter them; the row nearest to the central compound was accessible to the priests only, the other three were reserved for the nobles, the knights, and the simple people respectively. While another believed that the four rows of Perwara has nothing to do with four castes, it just simply made as meditation place for priests and as worship place for devotees.

Architecture

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The cross section of Shiva temple

The architecture of Prambanan temple follows the typical Hindu architecture traditions based on Vastu Shastra. The temple design incorporated mandala temple plan arrangements and also the typical high towering spires of Hindu temples. Prambanan was originally named Shivagrha and dedicated to god Shiva. The temple was designed to mimic Meru, the holy mountain the abode of Hindu gods, and the home of Shiva. The whole temple complex is a model of Hindu universe according to Hindu cosmology and the layers of Loka.

Just like Borobudur, Prambanan also recognize the hierarchy of the temple zones, spanned from the less holy to the holiest realms. Each Hindu and Buddhist concepts has their own terms, but the concept’s essentials is identical. Either the compound site plan (horizontally) or the temple structure (vertically) are consists of three zones:

  • Bhurloka (in Buddhism: Kāmadhātu), the lowest realm of common mortals; humans, animals also demons. Where humans still binded by their lust, desire and unholy way of life. The outer courtyard and the foot (base) part of each temples is symbolized the realm of bhurloka.
  • Bhuvarloka (in Buddhism: Rupadhatu), the middle realm of holy people, rishis, ascetics, and lesser gods. People here began to see the light of truth. The middle courtyard and the body of each temples is symbolized the realm of bhuvarloka.
  • Svarloka (in Buddhism: Arupadhatu), the highest and holiest realm of gods, also known as svargaloka. The inner courtyard and the roof of each temples is symbolized the realm of svarloka. The roof of the Prambanan temples is adorned and crowned with ratna (sanskrit: jewel), the shape of Prambanan ratna took the altered form of vajra that represent diamond. In ancient Java temple architecture, ratna is Hindu counterpart of Buddhist stupa, and served as the temple’s pinnacle.

During the restoration, a well which contains pripih (stone casket) was discovered under the center of the Shiva temple. The main temple has a well of 5.75 m depth in which a stone casket was found on top a pile of charcoal, earth and remains of burned animal bones. Sheets of gold leaves with the inscription Varuna (god of the sea) and Parvata (god of the mountains) were found here. The stone casket contained sheets of copper mixed with charcoal, ashes and earth, 20 coins, jewels, glass, pieces of gold and silver leaves, seashells and 12 gold leaves (5 of which in the shape of a turtle, Nāga serpent, padma, altar and egg).

 Reliefs

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Ravana kidnapping Sita while the Jatayu on the left tried to help her. Prambanan bas-relief

File:COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Reliëfs op de Candi Lara Jonggrang oftewel het Prambanan tempelcomplex TMnr 10030057.jpg

Prambanan panel, lion in niche flanked by two kalpataru trees each flanked by a pair of kinnaras or animals.

 Ramayana and Krishnayana

The temple is adorned with panels of narrative bas-reliefs telling the story of Hindu epic; Ramayana and Krishnayana. The narrative bas-relief panels was carved along the inner balustrades wall on the gallery around the three main temples.

The narrative panels on the balustrade read from left to right. The story started from east entrance where visitors turn left and moving around the temple gallery in clockwise direction. This conforms with pradaksina, the ritual of circumambulation performed by pilgrims who move in a clockwise direction while keeping the sanctuary to their right. The story of Ramayana started on Shiva temple balustrade and continued to Brahma temple. On the balustrades in Vishnu temple there is series of bas-relief panels depict Krishnayana, the story of lord Krishna.

Image : http://www.panoramio.com

The bas-relief of Ramayana illustrate how Sita, the wife of Rama, is abducted by Ravana. The monkey king Hanuman brings his army to help Rama and rescue Sita. This story is also shown by the Ramayana Ballet, regularly performed at full moon at Trimurti open air theatre in west side of the illuminated Prambanan complex.

 Lokapalas, Brahmins and Devatas

On the other side of narrative panels, the temple wall along the gallery were adorned with the statues and reliefs of devatas and brahmin sages. The figure of lokapalas, the celestial guardians of directions can be found in Shiva temple. The brahmin sage editors of veda were carved on Brahma temple wall, while in Vishnu temple the figures of a male deities devatas flanked by two apsaras.

 Prambanan panel: Lion and Kalpataru

The lower outer wall of these temples were adorned with row of small niche containing image of sinha (lion) flanked by two panels depicting bountiful kalpataru (kalpavriksha) tree. These wish-fulfilling sacred trees according to Hindu-Buddhist beliefs, is flanked on either side by kinnaras or animals, such as pairs of birds, deer, sheep, monkeys, horses, elephants etc. The pattern of lion in niche flanked by kalpataru trees is typical in Prambanan temple compound, thus it is called as “Prambanan panel”.

The Rara Jonggrang legend

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The multitude of temples scattered around Prambanan inspired the local legend of Rara Jonggrang

The popular legend of Rara Jonggrang is what connects the site of the Ratu Boko Palace, the origin of the Durga statue in northern cell/chamber of the main shrine, and the origin of the Sewu temple temple complex nearby. The legend tells of the story about Prince Bandung Bondowoso who fell in love with Princess Rara Jonggrang, the daughter of King Boko. But the princess rejected his proposal of marriage because Bandung Bondowoso had killed King Boko and ruled her kingdom. Bandung Bondowoso insisted on the union, and finally Rara Jonggrang was forced to agree for a union in marriage, but she posed one impossible condition: Bandung must build her a thousand temples in only one night.

Image : http://www.the-travels.com

The Prince entered into meditation and conjured up a multitude of spirits (demons) from the earth. Helped by supernatural beings, he succeeded in building 999 temples. When the prince was about to complete the condition, the princess woke her palace maids and ordered the women of the village to begin pounding rice and set a fire in the east of the temple, attempting to make the prince and the spirits believe that the sun was about to rise. As the cocks began to crow, fooled by the light and the sounds of morning time, the supernatural helpers fled back into the ground. The prince was furious about the trick and in revenge he cursed Rara Jonggrang to stone. She became the last and the most beautiful of the thousand statues. According to the traditions, the unfinished thousandth temple created by the demons become the Sewu temple compounds nearby (Sewu means “thousands” in Javanese), and the Princess is the image of Durga in the north cell of the Shiva temple at Prambanan, which is still known as Rara Jonggrang or Slender Virgin.

 Other temples around Prambanan

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Temples and archaeological sites in Prambanan Plain

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Sewu buddhist temple within Prambanan archaeological park connected with local Loro Jonggrang legend

The Prambanan Plain span between southern slopes of Merapi volcano in the north and Sewu mountain range in the south, near the present border Yogyakarta province and Klaten Regency, Central Java. Apart from the Lara Jonggrang complex, Prambanan plain, valley and hills around it is the location of some of the earliest Buddhist temples in Indonesia. Not far to the north are found the ruins of Bubrah temple, Lumbung temple, and Sewu temple. Further east are found Plaosan temple. To the west are found Kalasan temple and Sari temple, further to the west are Sambisari temple. While to the south the Ratu Boko compounds on higher ground. The discoveries of archaeological sites scattered only a few miles away suggested that this area was an important religious, political, and urban center.

North of the Lara Jongrang complex

  • Candi Lumbung. Buddhist-style, consisting of one main temple surrounded by 16 smaller ones.
  • Candi Bubrah. Buddhist temple still in ruins.
  • Sewu. Buddhist temple complex, older than Roro Jonggrang. A main sanctuary surrounded by many smaller temples. Well preserved guardian statues, replicas of which stand in the central courtyard at the Jogja Kraton.
  • Candi Morangan. Hindu temple complex buried several meters under volcanic ashes, located northwest from Prambanan.
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Candi Plaosan in Prambanan (9th century).

  • Candi Plaosan. Buddhist, probably 9th century. Thought to have been built by a Hindu king for his Buddhist queen. Two main temples with reliefs of Boddhisatva and Tara. Also rows of slender stupas.

South of the Lara Jongrang complex

  • Ratu Boko. Complex of fortified gates, bathing pools, and elevated walled stone enclosure, all located on top of the hill.
  • Sajiwan. Buddhist temple decorated with reliefs concerning education. The base and staircase are decorated with animal fables.
  • Banyunibo. A Buddhist temple with unique design of roof.
  • Candi Barong. A Hindu temple complex with large stepped stone courtyard. Located on the slope of the hill.
  • Candi Ijo. A cluster of Hindu temple located near the top of Ijo hill. The main temple houses a large lingam and yoni.
  • Arca Bugisan. Seven Buddha and bodhisattva statues, some collapsed, representing different poses and expressions.

West of the Lara Jongrang complex

  • Kalasan. 8th century Buddhist temple built in commemoration of the marriage of a king and his princess bride, ornamented with finely carved reliefs.
  • Sari. Once a sanctuary for Buddhist priests. 8th century. Nine stupas at the top with two rooms beneath, each believed to be places for priests to meditate.
  • Sambisari. 9th century Hindu temple discovered in 1966, once buried 6.5 metres under volcanic ash. The main temple houses a linga and yoni, and the wall surround it displayed the images of Agastya, Durga, and Ganesha.
  • Gebang. A small Hindu temple discovered in 1937 located near the Yogyakarta northern ring-road. The temple display the statue of Ganesha and interesting carving of faces on the roof section.
  • Candi Gana. Rich in statues, bas-reliefs and sculpted stones. Frequent representations of children or dwarfs with raised hands. Located in the middle of housing complex. Under restoration since 1997.
  • Candi Kedulan. Discovered in 1994 by sand diggers, 4m deep. Square base of main temple visible. Secondary temples not yet fully excavated.

Image : www.flickr .com

Borobudur

Posted in The Beautiful Temples in Indonesia on March 20, 2012 by 2eyeswatching

Post 623

Borobudur

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others

Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprise six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa.

Images :my.opera.com

The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument which ascends to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades.

Evidence suggest Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th century decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction

Borobudur
File:Borobudur-Nothwest-view.jpgBorobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, view from the northwest
Borobudur is located in Java Topography

Location within Java
General information
Architectural style stupa and candi
Town or city near Magelang, Central Java
Country Indonesia
Coordinates 7°36′29″S 110°12′14″E / 7.608°S 110.204°E / -7.608; 110.204Coordinates: 7°36′29″S 110°12′14″E / 7.608°S 110.204°E / -7.608; 110.204
Completed c. AD 825
Design and construction
Client Sailendra
Architect Gunadharma

Etymology

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Borobudur stupas overlooking a mountain. For centuries, it was deserted.

In Indonesia, ancient temples are Candi; thus locals refer to “Borobudur Temple” as Candi Borobudur. The term candi also loosely describes ancient structures, for example gates and baths. The origins of the name Borobudur however are unclear, although the original names of most ancient Indonesian temples are no longer known. The name Borobudur was first written in Sir Thomas Raffles’ book on Javan history. Raffles wrote about a monument called borobudur, but there are no older documents suggesting the same name.The only Old Javanese manuscript that hints at the monument as a holy Buddhist sanctuary is Nagarakretagama, written by Mpu Prapanca in 1365.

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An 1895 hand-tinted lantern slide of a guardian statue at Borobudur (Photograph by William Henry Jackson

The name Bore-Budur, and thus BoroBudur, is thought to have been written by Raffles in English grammar to mean the nearby village of Bore; most candi are named after a nearby village. If it followed Javanese language, the monument should have been named ‘BudurBoro’. Raffles also suggested that ‘Budur’ might correspond to the modern Javanese word Buda (“ancient”) – i.e., “ancient Boro” However, another archaeologist suggest the second component of the name (Budur) comes from Javanese term bhudhara (mountain).

The references about the construction and inauguration of a sacred buddhist building — possibly refer to Borobudur — was mentioned in two inscriptions, both discovered in Kedu, Temanggung Regency. The Karangtengah inscription dated 824 mentioned vaguely about a sacred building named Jinalaya (the realm of those who have conquer worldly desire and reach enlightenment) inaugurated by Pramodhawardhani daughter of Samaratungga. The Tri Tepusan inscription dated 842 mentioned about the sima (tax-free) lands awarded by Çrī Kahulunnan (Pramodhawardhani) to ensure the funding and maintenance of a Kamūlān called Bhūmisambhāra. Kamūlān itself from the word mula which means ‘the place of origin’, a sacred building to honor the ancestors, probably the ancestors of the Sailendras. Casparis suggested that Bhūmi Sambhāra Bhudhāra which in Sanskrit means “The mountain of combined virtues of the ten stages of Boddhisattvahood“, was the original name of Borobudur.

 Location

The three temples

Straight-line arrangement of Borobudur, Pawon, and Mendut

Approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Yogyakarta, Borobudur is located in an elevated area between two twin volcanoes, Sundoro – Sumbing and Merbabu – Merapi, and two rivers, the Progo and the Elo. According to local myth, the area known as Kedu Plain is a Javanese ‘sacred’ place and has been dubbed ‘the garden of Java’ due to its high agricultural fertility. During the restoration in the early 20th century, it was discovered that three Buddhist temples in the region, Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut, are positioned along a straight line. The ritual relationship between the three temples must have existed, although exact ritual process is yet unknown.

File:Stupa Borobudur.jpg

 Ancient lake

Borobudur was built on a bedrock hill, 265 m (869 ft)  above sea level and 15 m (49 ft) above the floor of the dried-out Paleolake. The lake’s existence was the subject of intense discussion among archaeologists in the 20th century. In 1931, a Dutch artist and scholar of Hindu and Buddhist architecture, W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, developed a theory that Kedu Plain was once a lake and Borobudur initially represented a lotus flower floating on the lake.

 History

 Construction

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A painting by G.B. Hooijer (c. 1916—1919) reconstructing the scene of Borobudur during its heyday

There is no written record of who built Borobudur or of its intended purpose. The construction time have been estimated by comparison between carved reliefs on the temple’s hidden foot and the inscription commonly used in royal charters during the 8th and 9th centuries. Borobudur was likely founded around 800 CE. This corresponds to the period between 760 and 830 CE, the peak of the Sailendra dynasty in central Java, when it was under the influence of the Srivijayan Empire. The construction has been estimated to have taken 75 years and been completed during the reign of Samaratungga in 825.

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There is confusion between Hindu and Buddhist rulers in Java around that time. The Sailendras were known as ardent followers of Buddhism, though stone inscriptions found at Sojomerto suggest they may have been Hindus. It was during this time that many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were built on the plains and mountains around the Kedu Plain. The Buddhist monuments, including Borobudur, were erected around the same time as the Hindu Shiva Prambanan temple compound. In 732 CE, the Shivaite King Sanjaya commissioned a Shivalinga sanctuary to be built on the Wukir hill, only 10 km (6.2 mi) east of Borobudur.

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A decorative gargoyle (makaras) at Borobudur as a spout to drainage waterfalls.

Construction of Buddhist temples, including Borobudur, at that time was possible because Sanjaya’s immediate successor, Rakai Panangkaran, granted his permission to the Buddhist followers to build such temples. In fact, to show his respect, Panangkaran gave the village of Kalasan to the Buddhist community, as is written in the Kalasan Charter dated 778 CE. This has led some archaeologists to believe that there was never serious conflict concerning religion in Java as it was possible for a Hindu king to patronize the establishment of a Buddhist monument; or for a Buddhist king to act likewise. However, it is likely that there were two rival royal dynasties in Java at the time—the Buddhist Sailendra and the Saivite Sanjaya—in which the latter triumphed over their rival in the 856 battle on the Ratubaka plateau. This confusion also exists regarding the Lara Jonggrang temple at the Prambanan complex, which was believed that it was erected by the victor Rakai Pikatan as the Sanjaya dynasty’s reply to Borobudur, but others suggest that there was a climate of peaceful coexistence where Sailendra involvement exists in Lara Jonggrang.

 Abandonment

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The eruption of Mount Merapi probably caused the abandonment of Borobudur

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Borobudur’s main stupa, which is empty and raised a mystery when discovered

Borobudur lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. The facts behind its abandonment remain a mystery. It is not known when active use of the monument and Buddhist pilgrimage to it ceased. Sometime between 928 and 1006, King Mpu Sindok moved the capital of the Medang Kingdom to the region of East Java after a series of volcanic eruptions; it is not certain whether this influenced the abandonment, but several sources mention this as the most likely period of abandonment. The monument is mentioned vaguely as late as ca. 1365, in Mpu Prapanca‘s Nagarakretagama written during Majapahit era and mentioning “the vihara in Budur”. Soekmono (1976) also mentions the popular belief that the temples were disbanded when the population converted to Islam in the 15th century.

Image : maltschul.wordpress.com

The monument was not forgotten completely, though folk stories gradually shifted from its past glory into more superstitious beliefs associated with bad luck and misery. Two old Javanese chronicles (babad) from the 18th century mention cases of bad luck associated with the monument. According to the Babad Tanah Jawi (or the History of Java), the monument was a fatal factor for Mas Dana, a rebel who revolted against Pakubuwono I, the king of Mataram in 1709. It was mentioned that the “Redi Borobudur” hill was besieged and the insurgents were defeated and sentenced to death by the king. In the Babad Mataram (or the History of the Mataram Kingdom), the monument was associated with the misfortune of Prince Monconagoro, the crown prince of the Yogyakarta Sultanate in 1757. In spite of a taboo against visiting the monument, “he took what is written as the knight who was captured in a cage (a statue in one of the perforated stupas)”. Upon returning to his palace, he fell ill and died one day later.

 Rediscovery

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The first photograph of Borobudur by Isidore van Kinsbergen (1873) after the monument was cleaned up

Following its captures, Java was under British administration from 1811 to 1816. The appointed governor was Lieutenant Governor-General Thomas Stamford Raffles, who took great interest in the history of Java. He collected Javanese antiques and made notes through contacts with local inhabitants during his tour throughout the island. On an inspection tour to Semarang in 1814, he was informed about a big monument deep in a jungle near the village of Bumisegoro. He was not able to make the discovery himself and sent H.C. Cornelius, a Dutch engineer, to investigate. In two months, Cornelius and his 200 men cut down trees, burned down vegetation and dug away the earth to reveal the monument. Due to the danger of collapse, he could not unearth all galleries. He reported his findings to Raffles including various drawings. Although the discovery is only mentioned by a few sentences, Raffles has been credited with the monument’s recovery, as one who had brought it to the world’s attention.

Hartmann, a Dutch administrator of the Kedu region, continued Cornelius’ work and in 1835 the whole complex was finally unearthed. His interest in Borobudur was more personal than official. Hartmann did not write any reports of his activities; in particular, the alleged story that he discovered the large statue of Buddha in the main stupa. In 1842, Hartmann investigated the main dome although what he discovered remains unknown as the main stupa remains empty.

The Dutch East Indies government then commissioned F.C. Wilsen, a Dutch engineering official, who studied the monument and drew hundreds of relief sketches. J.F.G. Brumund was also appointed to make a detailed study of the monument, which was completed in 1859. The government intended to publish an article based on Brumund study supplemented by Wilsen’s drawings, but Brumund refused to cooperate. The government then commissioned another scholar, C. Leemans, who compiled a monograph based on Brumund’s and Wilsen’s sources. In 1873, the first monograph of the detailed study of Borobudur was published, followed by its French translation a year later. The first photograph of the monument was taken in 1873 by a Dutch-Flemish engraver, Isidore van Kinsbergen.

Appreciation of the site developed slowly, and it served for some time largely as a source of souvenirs and income for “souvenir hunters” and thieves. In 1882, the chief inspector of cultural artifacts recommended that Borobudur be entirely disassembled with the relocation of reliefs into museums due to the unstable condition of the monument. As a result, the government appointed Groenveldt, an archeologist to undertake a thorough investigation of the site and to assess the actual condition of the complex; his report found that these fears were unjustified and recommended it be left intact.

 Restoration

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1971 poster calling for the restoration of Borobudur

Borobudur attracted attention in 1885, when Yzerman, the Chairman of the Archaeological Society in Yogyakarta, made a discovery about the hidden foot. Photographs that reveal reliefs on the hidden foot were made in 1890–1891. The discovery led the Dutch East Indies government to take steps to safeguard the monument. In 1900, the government set up a commission consisting of three officials to assess the monument: Brandes, an art historian, Theodoor van Erp, a Dutch army engineer officer, and Van de Kamer, a construction engineer from the Department of Public Works.

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Embedding concrete and pvc pipe to improve Borobudur’s drainage system during the 1973 restoration (Click the image to see the detail)

In 1902, the commission submitted a threefold plan of proposal to the government. First, the immediate dangers should be avoided by resetting the corners, removing stones that endangered the adjacent parts, strengthening the first balustrades and restoring several niches, archways, stupas and the main dome. Second, fencing off the courtyards, providing proper maintenance and improving drainage by restoring floors and spouts. Third, all loose stones should be removed, the monument cleared up to the first balustrades, disfigured stones removed and the main dome restored. The total cost was estimated at that time around 48,800 Dutch guilders.

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The restoration then was carried out between 1907 and 1911, using the principles of anastylosis and led by Theodor van Erp. The first seven months of his restoration was occupied with excavating the grounds around the monument to find missing Buddha heads and panel stones. Van Erp dismantled and rebuilt the upper three circular platforms and stupas. Along the way, Van Erp discovered more things he could do to improve the monument; he submitted another proposal that was approved with the additional cost of 34,600 guilders. At first glance Borobudur had been restored to its old glory.

Due to the limited budget, the restoration had been primarily focused on cleaning the sculptures, and Van Erp did not solve the drainage problem. Within fifteen years, the gallery walls were sagging and the reliefs showed signs of new cracks and deterioration. Van Erp used concrete from which alkali salts and calcium hydroxide leached and were transported into the rest of the construction. This caused some problems, so that a further thorough renovation was urgently needed.

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Small restorations have been performed since then, but not sufficient for complete protection. In the late 1960s, the Indonesian Goverment had requested from the international community a major renovation to protect the monument. In 1973, a master plan to restore Borobudur was created. The Indonesian government andUNESCO then undertook the complete overhaul of the monument in a big restoration project between 1975 and 1982. The foundation was stabilized and all 1,460 panels were cleaned. The restoration involved the dismantling of the five square platforms and improved the drainage by embedding water channels into the monument. Both impermeable and filter layers were added. This colossal project involved around 600 people to restore the monument and cost a total of US$ 6,901,243. After the renovation was finished, UNESCO listed Borobudur as a World Heritage Site in 1991.

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It is listed under Cultural criteria (i) “to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius”, (ii) “to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design”, and (vi) “to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance”.

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 Contemporary events

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Buddhist pilgrims meditate on the top platform

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Tourists in Borobudur

Following the major 1973 renovation funded by UNESCO Borobudur is once again used as a place of worship and pilgrimage. Once a year, during the full moon in May or June, Buddhists in Indonesia observe Vesak (Indonesian: Waisak) day commemorating the birth, death, and the time when Siddhārtha Gautama attained the highest wisdom to become the Buddha Shakyamuni. Vesak (or Waisak) is an official national holiday in Indonesiaand the ceremony is centered at the three Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur.

The monument is the single most visited tourist in Indonesia  In 1974, 260,000 tourists of whom 36,000 were foreigners visited the monument. The figure hiked into 2.5 million visitors annually (80% were domestic tourists) in the mid 1990s, before the country’s economy crisis.  Tourism development, however, has been criticized for not including the local community on which occasional local conflict has arisen. In 2003, residents and small businesses around Borobudur organized several meetings and poetry protests, objecting to a provincial government plan to build a three-story mall complex, dubbed the ‘Java World’.

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“Mahakarya Borobudur” ballet performance at Borobudur

On 21 January 1985, nine stupas were badly damaged by nine bombs. In 1991, a blind Muslim preacher, Husein Ali Al Habsyie, was sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding a series of bombings in the mid 1980s including the temple attack. Two other members of a right-wing extremist group that carried out the bombings were each sentenced to 20 years in 1986 and another man received a 13-year prison term. On 27 May 2006, an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude on the Richter scale struck the south coast of Central Java. The event had caused severe damage around the region and casualties to the nearby city of Yogyakarta, but Borobudur remained intact.

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UNESCO identified three specific areas of concern under the present state of conservation: (i) vandalism by visitors; (ii) soil erosion in the south-eastern part of the site; (iii) analysis and restoration of missing elements. The soft soil, the numerous earthquakes and heavy rains lead to the destabilization of the structure. Earthquakes are by far the most contributing factors, since not only stones fall down and arches crumble, but the earth itself can move in waves, further destroying the structure. The increasing popularity of the stupa brings in many visitors, most of whom are from Indonesia. Despite warning signs on all levels not to touch anything, the regular transmission of warnings over loudspeakers and the presence of guards, vandalism on reliefs and statues is a common occurrence and problem, leading to further deterioration. As of 2009, there is no system in place to limit the number of visitors allowed per day, or to introduce mandatory guided tours only.

 Rehabilitation

Borobudur was heavily affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi in October and November 2010. Volcanic ash from Merapi fell on the temple complex, which is approximately 28 kilometres (17 mi) west-southwest of the crater. A layer of ash up to 2.5 centimetres (1 in) fell on the temple statues during the eruption of 3–5 November, also killing nearby vegetation, with experts fearing that the acidic ash might damage the historic site. The temple complex was closed from 5 to 9 November to clean up the ashfall.

UNESCO donated US$3 million as a part of the costs towards the rehabilitation of Borobudur after Mount Merapi‘s 2010 eruption. More than 55,000 stone blocks comprising the temple’s structure were dismantled to restore the drainage system, which had been clogged by slurry after the rain. The restoration was predicted to finish in November 2011

 Architecture

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Borobudur ground plan taking the form of a Mandala

 Design

Borobudur is built as a single large stupa, and when viewed from above takes the form of a giant tantric Buddhist mandala, simultaneously representing the Buddhist cosmology and the nature of mind.[46] The foundation is a square, approximately 118 metres (387 ft) on each side. It has nine platforms, of which the lower six are square and the upper three are circular. The upper platform features seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is bell-shaped and pierced by numerous decorative openings. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.

The design of Borobudur took the form of astep pyramid. Previously the prehistoric Austronesian megalithic culture in Indonesia had constructed several earth mounds and stone step pyramid structures called punden berundak as discovered in Pangguyangan, Cisolok and Gunung Padang, West Java. The construction of stone pyramids is based on native beliefs that mountains and high places are the abode of ancestral spirits or hyangs. The punden berundak step pyramid is the basic design in Borobudur, believed to be the continuation of older megalithic tradition incorporated with Mahayana Buddhist ideas and symbolism.

The monument’s three divisions symbolize the three “realms” of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kamadhatu (the world of desires), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and finally Arupadhatu (the formless world). Ordinary sentient beings live out their lives on the lowest level, the realm of desire. Those who have burnt out all desire for continued existence leave the world of desire and live in the world on the level of form alone: they see forms but are not drawn to them. Finally, full Buddhas go beyond even form, and experience reality at its purest, most fundamental level, the formless ocean of nirvana. The liberation from the cycle of Saṃsāra where the enlightened soul had no longer attached to worldly form is corresponds to the concept of Śūnyatā, the complete voidness or the nonexistence of the self. Kāmadhātu is represented by the base, Rupadhatu by the five square platforms (the body), and Arupadhatu by the three circular platforms and the large topmost stupa. The architectural features between three stages have metaphorical differences. For instance, square and detailed decorations in the Rupadhatu disappear into plain circular platforms in the Arupadhatu to represent how the world of forms – where men are still attached with forms and names – changes into the world of the formless.

Congregational worship in Borobudur is performed in a walking pilgrimage. Pilgrims are guided by the system of staircases and corridors ascending to the top platform. Each platform represents one stage of enlightment. The path that guides pilgrims was designed to symbolize Buddhist cosmology.

In 1885, a hidden structure under the base was accidentally discovered. The “hidden footing” contains reliefs, 160 of which are narratives describing the real Kāmadhātu. The remaining reliefs are panels with short inscriptions that apparently provide instructions for the sculptors, illustrating the scenes to be carved. The real base is hidden by an encasement base, the purpose of which remains a mystery. It was first thought that the real base had to be covered to prevent a disastrous subsidence of the monument into the hill. There is another theory that the encasement base was added because the original hidden footing was incorrectly designed, according to Vastu Shastra, the Indian ancient book about architecture and town planning. Regardless of why it was commissioned, the encasement base was built with detailed and meticulous design and with aesthetic and religious consideration.

 Building structure

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Half cross-section with 4:6:9 height ratio for foot, body and head, respectively

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Lion gate guardian

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Stairs of Borobudur through arches of Kala

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A narrow corridor with reliefs on the wall

Approximately 55,000 cubic metres (72,000 cu yd) of andesite stones were taken from neighbouring stone quarries to build the monument. The stone was cut to size, transported to the site and laid without mortar. Knobs, indentations and dovetails were used to form joints between stones. Reliefs were created in situ after the building had been completed.

The monument is equipped with a good drainage system to cater for the area’s high stormwater run-off. To prevent flooding, 100 spouts are installed at each corner, each with a unique carved gargoyle in the shape of a giant or makara.

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Borobudur differs markedly from the general design of other structures built for this purpose. Instead of being built on a flat surface, Borobudur is built on a natural hill. However, construction technique is similar to other temples in Java. Without the inner spaces seen in other temples, and with a general design similar to the shape of pyramid, Borobudur was first thought more likely to have served as a stupa, instead of a temple. A stupa is intended as a shrine for the Buddha. Sometimes stupas were built only as devotional symbols of Buddhism. A temple, on the other hand, is used as a house of worship. The meticulous complexity of the monument’s design suggests that Borobudur is in fact a temple.

Little is known about Gunadharma, the architect of the complex. His name is recounted from Javanese folk tales rather than from written inscriptions.

The basic unit of measurement used during construction was the tala, defined as the length of a human face from the forehead’s hairline to the tip of the chin or the distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger when both fingers are stretched at their maximum distance. The unit is thus relative from one individual to the next, but the monument has exact measurements. A survey conducted in 1977 revealed frequent findings of a ratio of 4:6:9 around the monument. The architect had used the formula to lay out the precise dimensions of the fractal and self-similar geometry in Borobudur’s design. This ratio is also found in the designs of Pawon and Mendut, nearby Buddhist temples. Archeologists have conjectured that the 4:6:9 ratio and the tala have calendrical, astronomical and cosmological significance, as is the case with the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The main structure can be divided into three components: base, body, and top. The base is 123×123 m (403.5 × 403.5 ft) in size with 4 metres (13 ft) walls. The body is composed of five square platforms, each of diminishing height. The first terrace is set back 7 metres (23 ft) from the edge of the base. Each subsequent terrace is set back 2 metres (6.6 ft), leaving a narrow corridor at each stage. The top consists of three circular platforms, with each stage supporting a row of perforated stupas, arranged in concentric circles. There is one main dome at the center; the top of which is the highest point of the monument, 35 metres (115 ft) above ground level. Stairways at the center of each of four sides give access to the top, with a number of arched gates overlooked by 32 lion statues. The gates are adorned with Kala‘s head carved on top of each and Makaras projecting from each side. This Kala-Makara motif is commonly found on the gates of Javanese temples. The main entrance is on the eastern side, the location of the first narrative reliefs. Stairways on the slopes of the hill also link the monument to the low-lying plain.

 Reliefs

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The position of narrative bas-reliefs stories on Borobudur wall

Borobudur is constructed in such a way that it reveals various levels of terraces, showing intricate architecture that goes from being heavily ornamented with bas-reliefs to being plain in arupadhatu circular terraces. The first four terrace walls are showcases for bas-relief sculptures. These are exquisite, considered to be the most elegant and graceful in the ancient Buddhist world.

The bas-reliefs in Borobudur depicted many scenes of daily life in 8th century ancient Java; from the courtly palace life, hermit in the forest, to those of commoners in the village. It also depicted temple, marketplace, various flora and fauna, and also native vernacular architecture. People depicted here are the images of king, queen, princes, noblemen, courtier, soldier, servant, commoners, priest and hermit. The reliefs also depicted mythical spiritual beings in Buddhist beliefs such as asuras, gods, boddhisattvas, kinnaras, gandharvas and apsaras. The images depicted on bas-relief often served as reference for historians to research for certain subjects, such as study of architecture, weaponry, economy, fashion, and also mode of transportation of 8th century Maritime Southeast Asia. One of the famous rendering of 8th century Southeast Asian double outrigger ship is Borobudur Ship. Today the actual-size replica of Borobudur Ship that had sailed from Indonesia to Africa in 2004 is displayed in Samudra Raksa Museum located few hundred meters north of Borobudur.

The Borobudur reliefs also pay close attention to India aesthetic discipline, such as pose and gesture that contain certain meanings and aesthetic value. The reliefs of noblemen, and noble women, kings, or divine beings such as apsaras, taras and boddhisattvas usually portrayed in tribhanga pose. The three bent pose on neck, hips, and knee with one leg resting and one uphold the body weight. This position is considered as the most graceful pose, such as the figure of Surasundari holding a lotus.

Narrative Panels Distribution
section location story #panels
hidden foot wall Karmavibhangga 160
first gallery main wall Lalitavistara 120
Jataka/Avadana 120
balustrade Jataka/Avadana 372
Jataka/Avadana 128
second gallery balustrade Jataka/Avadana 100
main wall Gandavyuha 128
third gallery main wall Gandavyuha 88
balustrade Gandavyuha 88
fourth gallery main wall Gandavyuha 84
balustrade Gandavyuha 72
Total 1,460

Borobudur contains approximately 2,670 individual bas reliefs (1,460 narrative and 1,212 decorative panels), which cover the façades and balustrades. The total relief surface is 2,500 square metres (27,000 sq ft) and they are distributed at the hidden foot (Kāmadhātu) and the five square platforms (Rupadhatu).

The narrative panels, which tell the story of Sudhana and Manohara, are grouped into 11 series encircled the monument with the total length of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). The hidden foot contains the first series with 160 narrative panels and the remaining 10 series are distributed throughout walls and balustrades in four galleries starting from the eastern entrance stairway to the left. Narrative panels on the wall read from right to left, while on the balustrade read from left to right. This conforms with pradaksina, the ritual of circumambulation performed by pilgrims who move in a clockwise direction while keeping the sanctuary to their right.

The hidden foot depicts the workings of karmic law. The walls of the first gallery have two superimposed series of reliefs; each consists of 120 panels. The upper part depicts the biography of the Buddha, while the lower part of the wall and also balustrades in the first and the second galleries tell the story of the Buddha’s former lives. The remaining panels are devoted to Sudhana’s further wandering about his search, terminated by his attainment of the Perfect Wisdom.

The law of karma (Karmavibhangga)

The 160 hidden panels do not form a continuous story, but each panel provides one complete illustration of cause and effect. There are depictions of blameworthy activities, from gossip to murder, with their corresponding punishments. There are also praiseworthy activities, that include charity and pilgrimage to sanctuaries, and their subsequent rewards. The pains of hell and the pleasure of heaven are also illustrated. There are scenes of daily life, complete with the full panorama of samsara (the endless cycle of birth and death).

The story of Prince Siddhartha and the birth of Buddha (Lalitavistara)
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Prince Siddhartha Gautama became an ascetic hermit.

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Queen Maya riding horse carriage retreating to Lumbini to give birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama

The story starts with the descent of the Lord Buddha from the Tushita heaven, and ends with his first sermon in the Deer Park near Benares.The relief shows the birth of the Buddha as Prince Siddhartha, son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya of Kapilavastu (in present-day Nepal).

The story is preceded by 27 panels showing various preparations, in heavens and on earth, to welcome the final incarnation of the Bodhisattva. Before descending from Tushita heaven, the Bodhisattva entrusted his crown to his successor, the future Buddha Maitreya. He descended on earth in the shape of white elephants with six tusks, penetrated to Queen Maya’s right womb. Queen Maya had a dream of this event, which was interpreted that his son would become either a sovereign or a Buddha.

While Queen Maya felt that it was the time to give birth, she went to the Lumbini park outside the Kapilavastu city. She stood under a plaksa tree, holding one branch with her right hand and she gave birth to a son, Prince Siddhartha. The story on the panels continues until the prince becomes the Buddha.

The stories of Buddha’s previous life (Jataka) and other legendary persons (Avadana)

Jatakas are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddhartha. It is the stories that tell about the previous lives of the Buddha, in both human and animal form. The future Buddha may appear in them as a king, an outcast, a god, an elephant—but, in whatever form, he exhibits some virtue that the tale thereby inculcates. Avadanas are similar to jatakas, but the main figure is not the Bodhisattva himself. The saintly deeds in avadanas are attributed to other legendary persons. Jatakas and avadanas are treated in one and the same series in the reliefs of Borobudur.

The first 20 lower panels in the first gallery on the wall depict the Sudhanakumaravadana or the saintly deeds of Sudhana. The first 135 upper panels in the same gallery on the balustrades are devoted to the 34 legends of the Jatakamala.The remaining 237 panels depict stories from other sources, as do for the lower series and panels in the second gallery. Some jatakas stories are depicted twice, for example the story of King Sibhi (Rama‘s forefather).

Sudhana’s search for the Ultimate Truth (Gandavyuha)

Gandavyuha is the story told in the final chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra about Sudhana’s tireless wandering in search of the Highest Perfect Wisdom. It covers two galleries (third and fourth) and also half of the second gallery; comprising in total of 460 panels. The principal figure of the story, the youth Sudhana, son of an extremely rich merchant, appears on the 16th panel. The preceding 15 panels form a prolouque to the story of the miracles during Buddha’s samadhi in the Garden of Jeta at Sravasti.

During his search, Sudhana visited no less than 30 teachers but none of them had satisfied him completely. He was then instructed by Manjusri to meet the monk Megasri, where he was given the first doctrine. As his journey continues, Sudhana meets (in the following order) Supratisthita, the physician Megha (Spirit of Knowledge), the banker Muktaka, the monk Saradhvaja, the upasika Asa (Spirit of Supreme Enlightenment), Bhismottaranirghosa, the Brahmin Jayosmayatna, Princess Maitrayani, the monk Sudarsana, a boy called Indriyesvara, the upasika Prabhuta, the banker Ratnachuda, King Anala, the god Siva Mahadeva, Queen Maya, Bodhisattva Maitreya and then back to Manjusri. Each meeting has given Sudhana a specific doctrine, knowledge and wisdom. These meetings are shown in the third gallery.

After the last meeting with Manjusri, Sudhana went to the residence of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra; depicted in the fourth gallery. The entire series of the fourth gallery is devoted to the teaching of Samantabhadra. The narrative panels finally end with Sudhana’s achievement of the Supreme Knowledge and the Ultimate Truth.

 Buddha statues

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A Buddha statue with the hand position of dharmachakra mudra (turning the Wheel of the Law)

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A Buddha statue inside a stupa

Apart from the story of the Buddhist cosmology carved in stone, Borobudur has many statues of various Buddhas. The cross-legged statues are seated in a lotus position and distributed on the five square platforms (the Rupadhatu level) as well as on the top platform (the Arupadhatu level).

The Buddha statues are in niches at the Rupadhatu level, arranged in rows on the outer sides of the balustrades, the number of statues decreasing as platforms progressively diminish to the upper level. The first balustrades have 104 niches, the second 104, the third 88, the fourth 72 and the fifth 64. In total, there are 432 Buddha statues at the Rupadhatu level. At the Arupadhatu level (or the three circular platforms), Buddha statues are placed inside perforated stupas. The first circular platform has 32 stupas, the second 24 and the third 16, that add up to 72 stupas. Of the original 504 Buddha statues, over 300 are damaged (mostly headless) and 43 are missing (since the monument’s discovery, heads have been stolen as collector’s items, mostly by Western museums).

At first glance, all the Buddha statues appear similar, but there is a subtle difference between them in the mudras or the position of the hands. There are five groups of mudra: North, East, South, West and Zenith, which represent the five cardinal compass points according to Mahayana. The first four balustrades have the first four mudras: North, East, South and West, of which the Buddha statues that face one compass direction have the corresponding mudra. Buddha statues at the fifth balustrades and inside the 72 stupas on the top platform have the same mudra: Zenith. Each mudra represents one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas; each has its own symbolism.

Following the order of Pradakshina (clockwise circumumbulation) starting from the east, the mudras of the Borobudur buddha statues are:

Statue Mudra Symbolic meaning Dhyani Buddha
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhabeeld van de Borobudur TMnr 10016277.jpg Bhumisparsa mudra Calling the Earth to witness Aksobhya
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhabeeld van de Borobudur TMnr 60013976.jpg Vara mudra Benevolence, alms giving Ratnasambhava
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhabeeld van de Borobudur voorstellende Dhyani Boeddha Amitabha TMnr 10016276.jpg Dhyana mudra Concentration and meditation Amitabha
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhabeeld van de Borobudur voorstellende Dhyani Boeddha Amogasiddha TMnr 10016274.jpg Abhaya mudra Courage, fearlessness Amoghasiddhi
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhabeeld van de Borobudur voorstellende Dhyani Boeddha Vairocana TMnr 10015947.jpg Vitarka mudra Reasoning and virtue Vairochana
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Boeddhabeeld van de Borobudur TMnr 60019836.jpg Dharmachakra mudra Turning the Wheel of dharma (law) Vairochana

Gallery of reliefs

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  Relief panel of a ship at Borobudur
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The bas-relief on 8th century Borobudur depicting palace musicians performing musical ensemble, probably the ancient form of Javanese gamelan. The instrument shown here such as drums, bamboo flute, gongs, chime or bells, and lute.
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Flying Apsara, the celestial maiden on Borobudur bas-relief, Central Java, Indonesia
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The bas relief of 8th century Borobudur depicted the palace scene of King and Queen accompanied by their subjects. Its strongly suggested that the relief depicted the actual scene of Sailendran royal court.
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One relief on a corridor wall.

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A weapon, probably the early form of keris.
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A detailed carved relief stone.
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