|Sewu Temple Compound (Manjusrigrha)|
The Sewu temple compound
|Architectural style||Buddhist candi|
|Town or city||Klaten Regency, Central Java|
|Completed||circa 8th century|
|Client||Sailendra or Mataram Kingdom|
Sewu is an 8th-century Buddhist temple located 800 meters north of Prambanan in Central Java. Candi Sewu is actually the second largest Buddhist Temple in Central Java after Borobudur. Candi Sewu predates "Loro Jonggrang". Although originally only around 249 temples are present, the name in Javanese translates to 'a thousand temples,' which originated from popular local folklore; The Legend of Loro Jonggrang. The original name of this temple compound is probably Manjusrigrha.
Based on the Kelurak inscription (dated from 782) and Manjusrigrha inscription (dated from 792), which was found in 1960, the original name of the temple complex was probably "Manjusri grha" (The House of Manjusri). Manjusri is a Bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhist teaching. Sewu Temple was probably built in the 8th century at the end of Rakai Panangkaran administration. Rakai Panangkaran (746 – 784 AD) was a famous King from the Medang Kingdom. The temple was probably expanded and completed during Rakai Pikatan's rule, a Sanjaya dynasty prince whom married to a Buddhist princess of Sailendra dynasty, Pramodhawardhani. Most of his subjects retained their old religion after the return of Sanjaya dynasty. The proximity of the temple to Prambanan Temple, which is a Hindu Temple, suggests that the Hindus and Buddhist lived in harmony in the era that the temples were built. The scale of the temple complex suggests Candi Sewu was a Royal Buddhist Temple and was an important religious site of the past. The temple is located on the Prambanan Plain, that is between the southern eastern slopes of Merapi volcano and the Sewu mountain range in the south, near the present border of the Yogyakarta province and Klaten Regency, in Central Java. The plain houses many archaeological sites scattered only a few miles away, suggesting that this area was an important religious, political, and urban center.
The temple was severely damaged during the earthquake in Java in 2006. The structural damage is significant and the central temple suffered the worst. Large pieces of debris were scattered over the ground and cracks between stone blocks were detected. To prevent the central temple from collapse, the metal frame structures were erected on four corners and attached to support the main temple. Although some weeks later in 2006 the site were re-opened for visitors, the whole part of main temple remains off-limits for safety reasons.
The temple complex
The temple complex is the largest Buddhist compound in the Prambanan area, with rectangular grounds that measure 185 meter north-south and 165 meter east-west. The entrance is found on all four cardinal points, however judging from the layout of the temple complex, the main entrance is located on the east side. Each of the entrances were guarded by twin Dvarapala statues. This large guardian statues have been better preserved and replicas can be found at Jogja Kraton. There are a total of 249 buildings in the complex arranged in a Mandala pattern around the central main hall as an expression of the view of the universe of Mahayana Buddhism. The smaller temples are called Perwara (guardian) temples, consist of 240 temples with similar design and arranged in four rectangular concentric rows. Two outer rows are arranged closer and consists of 168 smaller temples, while two inner rows are arranged in certain interval and consist of 72 temples than the outer ones. The 249 temples that are located in the second precinct all were made with a square frame but varied by different statues and orientations. Many of these statues are now gone and the arrangements on the current site are not in the original orientations. The statues are comparable to the statues of Borobudur and were likely made of bronze.
Along the north-south and east-west central axis at a distance of about 200 meter, between 2nd and 3rd row of smaller temple are located the penjuru (main directions) or perwara utama (main vanguard) temples, a couple on each cardinal points facing each other. The perwara utama temples are the second largest ones after the main temple, however only eastern twin perwara utama and a northern one still remains today. These smaller temples encompass a larger sanctuary that has been heavily looted.
Behind the 4th row of smaller temples lies the stone paved courtyard where the main temple stood on the center.
The main temple
||This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. (April 2010)|
The main temple, with a ground plan in the shape of a 20-sided polygon, measures 29 meters in diameter and soars up to 30 meters high. On each of the four cardinal points of the main temple, there are four structures projected outward, each with its own stairs and entrances, crowned with stupas, thus forming a cross-like layout. All of the structures made are of the andesite stones.
The main temple have five rooms, one large garbhagriha in the center and four smaller rooms in each cardinal directions. These four rooms are all connected with outer corner galleries with balustrades. From the findings during the reconstruction process, the original design of central sanctuary only consisted of a central roomed temple surrounded by four additional structures with open portals. Doorways were added later. The portals were narrowed to create door frames to attach wooden doors. Some of the holes to attach doors were still visible. The doorways join the temples together into one main building with five rooms.
The central chamber can be reached from the eastern room. The central chamber is larger than other rooms with a higher roof. Now all the five rooms are empty. However the lotus carved stone padestal in central chamber suggested that the temple once contains a large bronze Buddhist statue (possible the bronze statue of Manjusri), probably reaching 4 meters tall. The statue is missing, probably being looted for scrap metal over centuries. However another theory suggested that the main statue was probably constructed from several stone blocks coated with vajralepa plaster.
- Dumarçay, Jacques (1978). edited and translated by Michael Smithies, "Borobudur", pp. 46–47. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-580379-2.
- Soetarno, Drs. R. second edition (2002). "Aneka Candi Kuno di Indonesia" (Ancient Temples in Indonesia), pp. 53–54. Dahara Prize. Semarang. ISBN 979-501-098-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Candi Sewu.|
- Official site
- "Mandala Suci Manjusrigrha" (Sacred Mandala of Manjusrigrha), a short documentary on Sewu Temple (in Indonesian)