Buddhist Ancient Sites around Yogyakarta

Buddhist ancient sites around Yogyakarta have been marginalized under the shadow of Prambanan Hindu temple, the biggest in the region, said Kris Budiman in his presentation at CRCS-ICRS Wednesday forum held on May 11th 2011. A lecturer at post-graduate program of Media and Cultural studies GMU tried to capture the condition of the Buddhist sites and constellations between the government, the Buddhists and local people living in the neighborhood.


Kris initially stated that his presentation was not going to be in academic tone instead of in what he called “travelling” [narratives]. Pictures of the Buddhist artifacts including temples and statues featured prominently in his presentation slides. Those are the minor sites, amongst are very small remains, located in some places of around Yogyakarta. They come from the era of old Mataram kingdom ruled by Sailendra Buddhist dynasty during eighth to ninth century CE.


Most of the remains close to the Prambanan temple are actually under the authority of Central Java governorate. Kris mentioned about twenty sites including Sewu temple, Sari temple, Banyunibo temple, Dawangsari site and Grimbyangan site. These artefacts are relatively unknown and rather abandoned. One of the relics called Cupuwatu is in better condition put in front of Gedung Agung, the presidential palace of Yogyakarta.


During the discussion, participants asked some questions concerning damaged artifacts including the beheaded Buddha statues. Kris answered that the sites have survived through a long historical process. Natural change, pillaging and also religious zealotry have contributed a lot to the damage. Even some relics are lost due to the antiquities-related crime and later found in some places far away from the actual sites, not to mention in foreign countries.


However, the government and the community living in the neighborhood pay less attention. Consequently, while they are geographically reachable, much more effort is needed to render those Buddhist antiquities a properly archaeological and tourist site.


According to Kris, the sites in his presentation were built in the style of southern Central Javanese Buddhist which differ from any other ancient sites in northern Central Java and in East Java. Given the religious ornaments, Buddhist ancient sites in Indonesia are characterized by the Buddha statues and stupas. And due to its specific locality, sites in Central Java are relatively laden with kala imagery, built in mandala pattern.


Another question was about the condition of the secular building from the ancient Indonesian Buddhist period. This stems from the fact that the only remains are the stoned-based religious buildings. According to Kris, secular buildings from that period were built on materials such as timber, bamboo and clay. Even the royal buildings such as palaces were not built completely with stones, unlike temples and monasteries, and other religious buildings. [MoU]

This post is also available in: Indonesian


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