The gate of Ratu Boko compound
|Architectural style||candi, fortified settlement complex|
|Town or city||near Yogyakarta (city), Yogyakarta|
|Completed||circa 9th century|
|Client||Sailendra or Mataram Kingdom|
Ratu Boko is an archaeological site known to modern Javanese as Kraton Ratu Boko or Ratu Boko's Palace. Ratu Boko is located on a plateau, about three kilometres south of Lara Jonggrang Prambanan temple complex in Yogyakarta Indonesia. The original name of this site is still unclear, however the local inhabitants named this site after King Boko, the legendary king mentioned in Loro Jonggrang folklore.
The site covers 16 hectares in two hamlets (Dawung and Sambireja) of the village of Bokoharjo and Prambanan, Sleman Regency. In striking contrast to other Classic-period sites in Central Java and Yogyakarta, which are remains of temples, Ratu Boko displays attributes of an occupation or settlement site, although its precise functions is unknown. Probably the site was a palace complex which belongs to the kings of Sailendra or Mataram Kingdom that also build temples scattered across Prambanan Plain. The argument was based on the fact that this complex was not a temple nor building with religious nature, but a fortified palace instead which evidence in the remnant of fortified walls and the dry moat as defensive structures. The remains of settlements also founds in Ratu Boko vicinity. This site is located 196 m above the sea level, on the highest point in the site, there is a small pavilion from which one will be able to see a panoramic view of Prambanan temple with Mount Merapi as the background.
At Ratu Boko, traces of probable secular structures were erected on a plateau divided into terraces separated from each other by stone walls and stone-faced ramparts (talud). The site was reached by a steep path up the northwest slope of the plateau, in the direction of Prambanan. The structural remains in the terrace at Ratu Boko site consist of places with folk names connected with palaces such as paseban (reception pavilion), pendopo (audience hall) and kaputren (women's quarter). A pool complex lies on a terrace adjoining the east side of the pendopo. A group of artificial caves, probably for meditation, lies to the north, isolated from the rest of the site. These archaeological sites are:
The first of three terraces is reached through a massive gateway built on two levels. On the western edge of this terrace is a high talud of soft white limestone. The second terrace, separated from the first by andesite wall, is reached through a gateway in paduraksa form consisting of three doors, a larger central one flanked by two of lesser dimensions. The third terrace, the largest, contains the richest concentrations of archaeological remains. Another talud and andesite wall separate the third terrace from the second terrace, with another connecting gateway of paduraksa form, this time consisting of five doors, again the central one having larger dimensions than the two which flank it.
Candi Batu Putih
Literally, Batu Putih means white stone. It is a structure made from white limestone on the north side of the first row of the gate on second terrace.
Beyond the second row of gates on third terrace, on the north side of the plateau there's a structure similar to the base part of the temple with two terraces about 26x26 m in size. On the center of upper terrace is an empty descending square hole. The building probably functions as crematorium to burn the corpses.
On the plateau on the third terrace, beside the Candi Pembakaran, there are also several square stone structures. On the structures there are some umpak or stones which serve as the base for wooden columns with holes to support the pillars. These structures are highly suggested as the base of the building, since the pillars, wall, and roof are made from organic material, only the stone floor and base still remain.
On the second terrace on the southeast side of the plateau, lies the pendopo (audience hall). The pendopo is a square stone enclosure surrounded with andesite stone wall with the small paduraksa entrance gates in the north, west, and south sides of the walled enclosure. In the center of this walled enclosure there's a stone base formed by two separated terraces, the terrace in the southern side is smaller than the north side one. This terrace served as the base and floor of the wooden structure since there are some umpak or stones which serve as the base for wooden columns with holes to support the pillars. Since the pillars, walls, and the roof were made from easily decayed material such as wood, sirap (wooden shingles roof) or ijuk, none of it survives. Only the stone base still remains while the organic wooden material of the building is gone.
On the south side on the pendopo, there are three miniature temples with a square stone basin in front of it. This small temple probably served a religious purpose, as some kind of Hindu or Buddhist shrine in the Ratu Boko complex.
Kaputren and Bathing Place
On the eastern side of pendopo on the lower terrace, there are several andesite stone walled enclosure with paduraksa gate and a gallery leads to the several pools within the walled enclosure. This structure is associated by local folks as kaputren (women's quarter), since the pool is believed to be the pleasure garden for king and his concubines.
One particular pool (or well) within the bath place is considered sacred by Hindu people called 'Amerta Mantana'. It is believed that the water of Amerta brings luck for anyone who uses it. Hindu people use it in Tawur Agung ceremony, one day before the Nyepi day, to support the achievement of self purify and to return the earth into her initial harmony.
To the east of the pool there are two stone base structures, yet again probably the remains of a wooden structure of which only the stone base still remains. From this structure, overlooking a valley on the east side of Ratu Boko compounds, visitors can see Candi Barong, a Hindu temple complex across the valley on the slope of the hill in the east.
At the northern part from pendopo, isolated from the rest of the site, lies two caves that were formed of sediment stones. The upper cave is called Gua Lanang (Male Cave) and the lower cave is called Gua Wadon (Female Cave). In front of Gua Lanang, there is a pond and three effigies. Based on the research, the effigy is known as Aksobya, one of Buddha Pantheons. The cave probably functioned as a meditation place.
Buddhism and Hinduism
Ratu Boko site has yielded many smaller artefact including statues, both Hindu (Durga, Ganesha, Garuda, a Linga and a Yoni) and Buddhist (three unfinished Dhyani Buddhas). Other finds include ceramics and inscriptions; a golden plate with the writing "Om Rudra ya namah swaha" on it as form of worship to Rudra as the other name of Shiva. This proved that the Hindus and Buddhist live together with tolerance or in a syncretism.
Despite the large quantity and variety of remains found there, the exact functions of Ratu Boko site is still unknown. Some believe it was the former palace of ancient Mataram Kingdom; other scholars interpret this site as monastery. While third group holds that it was a place for rest and recreation. Inscriptions shows that the site was occupied at least during the 8th and 9th centuries. Five inscriptions in pre-Nagari script and Sanskrit describe the construction of a shrine for Avalokitesvara. One inscriptions refers to the constructions of a Buddhist monastery modelled after Abhayagiri Vihara (means a monastery on a peaceful hill) in Sri Lanka, where a group of ascetic forest dwelling monks resided. Three dated inscriptions in Old Javanese and poetic Sanskrit recount the erection of two lingga, and bear the date of 778 Saka or 856 AD. Another undated inscription mentions the erection of lingga named Hara at the order of King Kalasobhawa.
The Legend of King Boko
King Boko is a legendary character known from popular folklore of Loro Jonggrang. This folklore connects the Ratu Boko Palace, the Durga statue in Prambanan temple (which is identified by local folklore as Loro Jonggrang), and the origin of the Sewu temple complex nearby. Prince Bandung Bondowoso loved Princess Loro Jonggrang, the daughter of King Boko, but she rejected his proposal of marriage because Bandung Bondowoso had killed King Boko and ruled her kingdom. Bandung Bondowoso insisted on the union, and finally Loro Jonggrang was forced to agree for a union in marriage, but she posed one condition: Bandung must build her a thousand temples in one night. He entered into meditation and conjured up a multitude of spirits (genies or demons) from the earth. They succeeded in building 999 temples. Loro Jonggrang then woke her palace maids and ordered them to begin pounding rice. This awoke the roosters, which began to crow. The genies, hearing the sound of morning, believed the sun was about to rise and so disappeared back into the ground. Thus the prince was fooled, in revenge he cursed the princess and turned her into a stone statue. According to the traditions, she is the image of Durga in the north cell of the Shiva temple at Prambanan, which is still known as Loro Jonggrang or Slender Virgin.
- Didier Millet, volume editor: John Miksic, Indonesian Heritage Series: Ancient History, pp. 74, Hardcover edition - Aug 2003, Archipelago Press, Singapore 169641, ISBN 981-3018-26-7.
- Soetarno, Drs. R. second edition (2002). "Aneka Candi Kuno di Indonesia" (Ancient Temples in Indonesia), pp. 67. Dahara Prize. Semarang. ISBN 979-501-098-0.
- Soetarno, Drs. R. second edition (2002). "Aneka Candi Kuno di Indonesia" (Ancient Temples in Indonesia), pp. 69. Dahara Prize. Semarang. ISBN 979-501-098-0.
- Didier Millet, volume editor: John Miksic, Indonesian Heritage Series: Ancient History, Hardcover edition - Aug 2003, Archipelago Press, Singapore 169641, ISBN 981-3018-26-7
- Ratu Boko official site
- Ratu Boko lacation on wikimapia
- Ratu Boko Site documentary includes explanation in 3D animation (in Indonesian)