Unveiling Java’s Ancient Building Mastery: From Borobudur to Prambanan

Unveiling Java's Ancient Building Mastery From Borobudur to Prambanan 2

javaprivatetour.com – Welcome to Java, a land steeped in grand history and precious tales from the past. Have you ever wondered how ancient Javanese communities constructed their homes and created majestic temples like Borobudur and Prambanan? Let’s delve into the wonders of ancient Javanese building technology that continues to astonish us today.

Revealing the Skills of Ancient Javanese Society

The towering temples of Java, especially Borobudur, transport us back to an era where technical skills and the art of construction reached their zenith. In the reliefs of Borobudur, we witness how the ancient Javanese used various specialized tools for carpentry, including a variety of axes that reflect the advanced state of woodworking during that time.

Interestingly, the prowess of ancient Javanese society wasn’t confined to temple construction but extended to their homes as well. Various materials, from bamboo to wood, were employed in building houses, and the reliefs of Borobudur stand as the sole source of data providing insights into this skill.

The diorama depicting the process of temple construction in Java during the Hindu-Buddhist era. The portrait was taken at East Java Park I
The diorama depicting the process of temple construction in Java during the Hindu-Buddhist era. The portrait was taken at Jatim Park I East Java

Bamboo as the Primary Building Material

Bamboo, flourishing abundantly in Java, emerged as the primary material for constructing buildings due to its plentiful availability and economical nature compared to wood. Place names such as Gunungpring Village (bamboo forest) near Borobudur reflect the bamboo resources used by the local community.

A 9th-century inscription connected to Mendut Temple references Venu Vana, translating to “bamboo forest” in Sanskrit. This underscores the vital role bamboo played in the lives of ancient Javanese communities.

Specific Guidelines in Temple Construction

In the Negarakertagama manuscript, an ancient text depicting the intricacies of Hindu art and construction, Dwi Budi Harto mentions that ancient Javanese communities adhered to specific guidelines when constructing temples.

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In the world of Hindu art, particularly in the creation of sacred structures, adherence to guidelines found in instructional texts, such as the Cilpasastra, was crucial. The Negarakertagama also describes the division of labor in the temple construction process. Some were tasked with sanctifying the ground, while others adorned the temple surroundings with art.

Artisans and gardeners beautified the temple surroundings, placing stone upon stone from the foundation to its crown. Individuals were also designated to place sculptures, adding both ornamentation and sacred significance to the temple. The perfection of the temple’s construction was an ongoing effort, with the process taking decades.

The mystery surrounding Prambanan, often said to have been built in a single night, is estimated to have taken hundreds of years to complete. The legend of Prambanan’s construction, passed down through generations, adds to the allure of these ancient marvels that continue to stand tall in Java.

The painting by William Daniell titled 'Candi Besar in Brambánan from' Raffles' book, The History of Java Vol. 2
The painting by William Daniell titled ‘Candi Besar in Brambánan from’ Raffles’ book, The History of Java Vol. 2

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