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Coordinates: 7°36′29″S, 110°12′14″E
Borobudur from a distance

Borobudur is a Buddhist stupa related to the Mahayana tradition, and is the largest Buddhist monument on earth. It is located in the Indonesian province of Central Java, 40 kilometers (25mi) north-west of Yogyakarta. It was built between 750 and 850 CE by the Javanese rulers of the Sailendra dynasty. The name may derive from the Sanskrit "Vihara Buddha Ur", which can be liberally translated as "the Buddhist temple on the mountain". Another theory suggests that the name originally was "Bhara Beduhur", an Old Javanese expression for "The temple on the hill". It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Indonesia.


[edit] Etymology

In Indonesian language, temples are called candi or chandi. In the case of most candis, the original name is unknown. Even the local people did not know the existence of a candi. Most candis are simply named after the nearby village.

The name of Borobudur was first written in the Sir Thomas Raffles book on Java history.<ref name="Raffles1814">Thomas Stamford Raffles (1817). The History of Java, 1978, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195803477.</ref> Raffles wrote the existence of a monument called borobudur in the village of Bumisegoro. However, there is no other ancient documents mentioning this name.<ref name="Soekmono13">Soekmono (1976), page 13.</ref> In an old Javanese manuscript, Nagarakertagama, written by Mpu Prapanca in AD 1365, there is a mention of Budur as a Buddhist sanctuary. It can be associated with Borobudur, but the manuscript is lack of any further information to make a definite identification.

In the vicinity of Borobudur, there is a village called Bore. The name of Bore-Budur, and thus BoroBudur, was then suspected as written by Raffles in English grammar. If it followed Javanese language, the monument should have been named as BudurBoro. Raffles also suggested that Budur might correspond to the modern Javanese word of Buda.<ref name="Soekmono13"/>

Another hypothesis is that Boro was taken from an old Javanese term of bhara (honourable), to point the monument as "The Honourable Buddha". A more plausible interpretation comes from Javanese word of biara (monastery). Thus the name simply points to the monastery of Budur, where Budur is mentioned in the Nagarakertagama manuscript.

[edit] History

[edit] Construction

There is no written documents to the authority who had built Borobudur, nor the purposes of which it was intended for.<ref name="Soekmono9">Soekmono (1976), page 9.</ref> The construction time is estimated by the similarity of the carved reliefs on the hidden foot with the inscriptions commonly used in royal charters between eight and ninth century. Borobudur was likely founded around AD 800.<ref name="Soekmono9"/> This conforms with the period between AD 750–850 where it was the Golden Age of the Sailendra dynasty.

There has been some confusion between Hindu and Buddhist rulers in Java around that time.<ref name="Soekmono9"/> The Sailendras are known as ardent followers of Lord Buddha, but he was said as Hindu according to a stone inscription found at Sojomerto, Central Java. It was during that time that many Hindu and Buddhist monuments were built in plains and slopes of mountains around Central Java. The plains of Kedu (Buddhist) and Prambanan (Hindu Shiva) temples were erected close together. In AD 732, king Sanjaya, the founder of the dynasty, commissioned a Hindu Shiva lingga sanctuary to be built on the hill Ukir, only 10 km east of Borobudur. Sanjaya's immediate successor, Rakai Panangkaran, was associated with a Buddhist temple, Kalasan, as shown in the Kalasan charter dated AD 778. Anthropologists believe that religion in Java has never been a serious conflict.<ref name="Soekmono10">Soekmono (1976), page 10.</ref> It was possible for a Hindu king to patronize the establishment of a Buddhist monument; or for a Buddhist king to act likewise. The official religion could take place without affecting the continuity of a dynasty and of cultural life.

[edit] Rediscovery

For centuries, Borobudur lay hidden under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. The facts behind the desertion of this magnificent monument still remain a mystery. In the middle of the 20th century the scholarly theory was that famine caused by an eruption of nearby Mount Merapi forced the inhabitants of Central Java to leave their lands and monuments behind in search of a new place to live. The eruption in question took place in c. 1006, however, and most scholars now believe that the centre of Javanese power moved from the area of Borobudur to the valley of the Brantas as early as 928<ref name="Murwanto" />. The real cause of desertion of the site thus remains a mystery.

In the 18th century only the uppermost terraces would have been partly discernable. Dutch colonials on their way to the Javanese court passed other monuments, but no mention was made of Borobudur. Borobudur was rediscovered in 1814 by Lieutenant-Governor Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles during the English occupation of the island at the time of the Anglo-Dutch Java War. During his visit in Semarang, he received a report indicating the discovery of a hill full of many carved stones. The Dutchman H.C. Cornelius was dispatched into the area to investigate; Cornelius spent a month and a half with 200 men conducting a preliminary clearing of the monument. His work was continued by others between 1817 and 1822. From 1835 onwards the upper portions were cleared and the monument was for the most part visible. From 1849-1853 the artist F.C. Wilsen was commissioned to make drawings of all of the reliefs. His work was reproduced in the first Borobudur monograph of 1873, published by the director of the museum of antiquities in Leiden Dr C. Leemans. In 1873 the then well known photographer Isidore van Kinsbergen photographed the site. The structural condition of the complex remained so unstable that in 1882 the chief inspector of cultural artefacts recommended that Borobudur be entirely disassembled, with the reliefs placed in museums.

Appreciation for the site developed slowly, though reliefs, Buddhas, and ornaments were routinely removed by thieves and souvenir hunters. Stories are also told of cavalrymen from Magelang sharpening their sabres on Dhyani-Buddha's and of officers finishing their dinners with charges of the sacred site. The King of Siam at the time, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), visiting the governor in 1886 passed through on his travels; he either took or was given eight ox carts containing irreplaceable statues and ornaments including the only large "temple guardian".

[edit] Major events

On 21 January 1985, nine stupas were badly damaged by nine bombs attack.<ref>"1,100-Year-Old Buddhist Temple Wrecked By Bombs in Indonesia", The Miami Herald, 22 January 1985. Retrieved on 2006-11-29.</ref> In 1991, a blind Muslim evangelist, Husein Ali Al Habsyie, was sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding a series of bombings in the mid 1980s including the temple attack.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> Two other members of a right-wing extremist group that carried out the bombings had each been sentenced to 20 years in 1986 and another man received a 13-year prison term.

The creation of facilities for domestic and international tourism around the current 'park' has been controversial. Public comment has even been made by park authority employees, as the numbers of tourists are starting to cause excessive wear to the stone paths.

On 27 May 2006, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the south coast of Central Java, causing severe damage and casualties to the nearby city of Yogyakarta. Initial reports, however, suggest that Borobudur, which was some distance from the epicentre, remains undamaged <ref>]</ref>

[edit] Architecture

Buddha in an open stupa, Borobudur

Borobudur is built as a single large stupa, and viewed from above takes the form of a giant mandala. The foundation is a square, 118 metres on each side. It has nine levels, of which the lower six are square and the upper three circular. This is said to be a map of the cosmos as conceptualized by the Buddhist philosophers of the time. The upper level features seventy-two small stupas surrounding one large central stupa. Each stupa is a bell shape pierced by numerous decorative apertures. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced enclosures.

Borobudur is still a place of prayer and pilgrimage. Pilgrims circumambulate each level seven times in a clockwise direction. The stupas on the topmost level contain statues of the Buddha in various poses. According to local folklore, touching the finger and toe of a particular Buddha through the holes in the stupa wall brings good luck.

[edit] Structure

The monument was constructed with approximately 55,000 m³ of stone, taken from neighbouring rivers, built on top of a hill.<ref name="soekmono">Template:Cite paper</ref> These stones were cut to size, transported to the site and laid without mortar. Knobs, indentations and dovetails were used to make joints between stones. Reliefs, which covers about 2,500 m² of the wall surface, were created after the building had been completed. This building technique was similar with other Java temples.

The main vertical structure can be divided into 3 groups: base, body and top. The base is a 123x123 m² square in size and 4 m high of walls.<ref name="soekmono"/> The body is composed of 5 terraces. Each with diminishing heights. The first terrace stands back 7 m from the edge of the base. The other terraces retreats only 2 m, leaving a narrow corridor in each stage. The top consists of 3 circular platforms, with each stage supports a row of perforated stupas, arranged in concentric circles. In the center, there is one giant stupa, which its dome has elevation of 35 m above the ground level.

Access to the upper part is provided by stairways at each middle side. The main entrance is at the eastern side, where it is the beginning of the narrative relief. In total, there are 9 levels of this monument.

The designer of Borobudur has thought of the drainage system, because the area has a high precipitation throughout the year. To avoid being flooded by rain water, 100 spouts were provided at each corner with a unique carved gargoyles (makaras).

[edit] Site selection

In the 1940s, the Dutch artist Nieuwenkamp suggested that Borobudur in fact represented the Buddha on a lotus leaf, and that thus had likely been built on a lake. In 1949, geologists found clay sediments near the site, which they interpreted as a remnant of a lake bed. They suggested that the lake may have been created by the eruption of a nearby volcano, Mount Merapi, either circa 1006 CE or much earlier. However, it was not at all clear whether the lake dried up before the stupa was built, or the site pre-dated a lake, which was an accident of nature.

More recent research indicates that a lake existed in the area as recently as between the 12th and 14th centuries, validating the earlier supposition that Borobudur was built as an aquatic lotus symbol, seen as floating on the adjoining lake. <ref name="Murwanto">Murwanto, H. et al. "Borobudur monument (Java, Indonesia) stood by a natural lake: chronostratigraphic evidence and historical implications." The Holocene. 14.3 (2004) pp 459-463.</ref>

[edit] The reliefs

Narrative Panels Distribution<ref name="Soekmono20">Soekmono (1976), page 20.</ref>
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 main wall Gandavyuha 128
ballustrade Jataka/Avadana 100
third gallery main wall Gandavyuha 88
ballustrade Gandavyuha 88
fourth gallery main wall Gandavyuha 84
ballustrade Gandavyuha 72
Total 1,460

Borobudur contains a large amount of bas reliefs which covers the facades of the walls and balustrades. The total surface is 2,500 m².<ref name="Soekmono20">Soekmono (1976), page 20.</ref> The reliefs are divided into two groups: 1,460 narrative panels in 11 series that go around the monument with the total length of 3,000 metres (1.86 mi), and 1,212 decorative individual panels. The most important panels are the narrative ones which tell the story of Sudhana and Manohara.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

The reliefs are located at the first and second levels. Borobudur has three levels: first level (Kamadhatu or the world of desire), second level (Rupadhatu or the world of forms) and (Arupadhatu or the world of formlessness).<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The last level, Arupadhatu, only consists of stupas arranged in three circular terraces.

The first 160 narrative panels were placed on a hidden foot (the Kamadhatu level). By a series of photographs, the first panels were analyzed and they depict the karma law, according to Mahakarmavibhangga text. The other 10 series are distributed throughout the rupadhatu on the walls and balustrades on the four galleries. Narrative panels on the wall read from right to left, while on the balustrades from left to right. This conforms with pradaksina or the ritual of circumambulation performed by pilgrims; moving in a clockwise direction while keeping the sanctuary to his right.<ref name="Soekmono21">Soekmono (1976), page 21.</ref> From the eastern entrance stairway, the story starts from the left and ends at its right.

The Rupadhatu level consists of four galleries. The wall of the first galleries (over 3,5 metres or 11.5 ft high) has two superimposed series of reliefs; each consists of 120 panels. The upper part depicts the biography of Buddha, according to Lalitavistara text, and the lower part depicts Buddha's former lives as told in the jatakas and avadanas.<ref name="Soekmono20">Soekmono (1976), page 20.</ref> The balustrade of the second gallery consists of 128 panels and it describes the story of Sudhana in search of the Ultimate Truth, according to Gandavyuha text. The third and four galleries are devoted to Sudhana's further wandering about his search; terminated by his attainment of the Highest Wisdom.

[edit] Karmavibhangga

Karmavibhangga is the law of karma. The law is depicted on the hidden foot wall of the monument. The total 160 panels do not form a continuous story, but each panel provides one complete illustration of cause and effect.<ref name="Soekmono20">Soekmono (1976), page 20.</ref> 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 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).

[edit] Lalitavistara

Lalitavistara is a biography of Buddha. On Borobudur's reliefs, the story starts from the glorious descent of the Lord Buddha from the Tushita heaven, and ends with his first sermon in the Deer Park near Benares.<ref name="Soekmono21">Soekmono (1976), page 21.</ref> The relief shows the birth of Buddha as Prince Siddharta, 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 Bodhisattva.<ref name="Sokemono21">Soekmono (1976), page 21.</ref> Before descending from Tushita heaven, 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 the birth, she went to the Lumbini park oustide the Kapilavastu city. She stood under a plaksa tree, holding one branch with her right hand and she gave birth to a son, Prince Siddharta. The story on the panels continues until the prince became Buddha.

[edit] Jatakas and Avadanas

Jatakas are stories about the Buddha before he was born as Prince Siddharta.<ref name="Soekmono26">Soekmono (1976), page 26.</ref> Avadanas are similar with jatakas, but the main figure is not 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 Prince Sudhanakumara. The first 135 upper panels in the same gallery on the balustrades are devoted to the 34 legends of the Jatakamala.<ref name="Soekmono29">Soekmono (1976), page 29.</ref> 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.

[edit] Gandavyuha

Gandavyuha is a story 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.<ref name="Soekmono32">Soekmono (1976), page 32.</ref> 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 prologue 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. Sudhana journey continues to meet in the following order Supratisthita, the physician Megha (Spirit of Knowledge), the banker Muktaka, the monk Saradhvaja, the upasika Asa (Spirit of Supreme Enlightment), 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 the Sudhana's achievement of the Supreme Knowledge and the Ultimate Truth.<ref name="Soekmono35">Soekmono (1976), page 35.</ref>

[edit] Restoration

The first great restoration was carried out from 1907-1911 by then Captain/Major of engineers Theodoor van Erp. As a young officer he was stationed in Magelang and in 1900 became a member of the so-called Borobudur Commission. The restoration was a great success and drew widespread acclaim as it used anastylosis, a methodology never before used on such a scale and for which no guidance existed. At first glance Borobudur had been restored to its old glory.

Because of the limited budget, however, the restoration had been primarily focused on improving drainage and structural restoration. Long term survival of the monument would require significant and expensive additional work. Borobudur is built on a hill, and tropical rains cause the site to function as a sponge which causes the stupa to continuously tend to collapse and sink; the reliefs are thus also continuously attacked by mosses and vegetation.

In the period 1973-1984 a massive restoration project was carried out under the guidance and financing of UNESCO. In May 1975 actual restoration work started with the huge project comprised of:

  • Dismantling the entire section of square terraces
  • Cleaning and conserving each single demounted stone
  • Establishing a reinforced concrete foundation to support each storey, with levelling elements inserted under the galleries
  • Embedding of water channels into the structure and inserting impermeable barriers to minimise seepage between reliefs
  • Cleaning the mantle stones of grime and micro organisms, such as mosses, fungi, lichens and algae then re-arranging them in their original setting.

The monument has since been listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Notes


[edit] General references

[edit] External links

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