Saturday, June 17, 2017

Revealing details of Candi Sambisari

This 9th-century Hindu temple was rediscovered 
in 1966, centuries after it was buried some 5 meters 
below ground by ash from a major volcanic eruption!

Its main building is adorned by 
stone carvings such as these

...and pride of place within it goes to 
a large lingam and yoni! ;b

It's hard for a Malaysian to not suffer from ancient monument envy when visiting Indonesia, particularly central Java.  It's bad enough that this neighboring part of the world is home to the largest Buddhist structure in the world and that Borobudur truly is incredibly magnificent.  But when you also throw in another ancient and magnificent monument that's located around 50 kilometers away into the equation, it does feel like this area has an almost unbelievable as well as amazing surfeit of monumental riches.

Like Borobudur, Prambanan is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.  And like that over 1,100-year-old Buddhist temple, that which also dates back to that historical period also has subsidiary temples along with the main one.  And if all this was not enough, consider that there are a number of other temples that are similarly ancient -- plus architecturally and ornamentally similar -- located to the northeast, southeast and west of the Prambanan complex!

To be sure, they are smaller than Borobudur or Prambanan.  But a visit to such as Candi Sambisari -- which also dates back to the 9th century AD, and was only re-discovered some five decades ago -- can whet the appetite and get the blood flowing on a day when you know that you'll also be visiting Prambanan later that day! 

In 1966, a local farmer's hoe hit a carved stone when working on his land located close to the small hamlet of Sambisari.  Upon investigation, the artifact turned out to belong to an ancient temple which lay meters down below ground.  Uncovered and excavated, that which has come to be known as Candi Sambisari is now completely visible -- and its main temple's inner chamber accessible, and contents openly revealed, to the public.       

Unlike Candi Pawon, the contents of its inner chamber have remained intact.  So, like with Candi Mendut, one is able to see what lies inside.  But, this being a Hindu temple rather than a Buddhist one, no statues of Buddha are to be found within it.  Instead, pride of place goes to -- and no, I am not kidding -- large, stylized representations of a phallus (specifically, that of the Hindu god Shiva) and vulva/vagina!

I have to admit: My initial, innocent thought was that the lingam (as it's known in Sanskrit) was a container, whose tip was removable, upon which a holy statue or relic would be revealed.  But once you find out what it actually is, not only will you realize that that's exactly what it is but, also, that there are a number of other Shiva Linga outside in the surrounding grounds: more precisely, four located in each corner of the rectangular compound and another four at the cardinal points! ;b

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