Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Majapahit Temples Of Trowulan (Mojokerto)

On a free day we took the opportunity to tour some of the relics of the Majapahit Kingdom. These candis (or “temples”) varied in nature, from those that were still being dug out of the earth, through foundation stones (or umpak) sunk at intervals into the soil, to fully renovated monuments. Each site was unique, although it was evident they somehow formed a “whole”.

We began in the village of Jati Pasar, Trowulan district, which is home to Candi Wringin Lawang. A large open gate, reminiscent of those found in Bali, this candi is so named because of the large banyan tree that grows nearby. (In Javanese, Wringin = banyan; Lawang = gate.) At the height of the Majapahit era, Wringin Lawang would have formed an entrance into a complex of buildings in this part of the city.

Candi Wringin Lawang

Still in the district of Trowulan we next visited Candi Tikus, situated in the village of Temon. In the Javanese language (as in bahasa Indonesia itself), “tikus” means mouse, or rat. Legend has it that the locals discovered the site when digging out a large rats’ nest, which is how this candi got its modern name. Sunk into the ground and consisting of a moat surrounding a central structure, Candi Tikus is a representation of the sacred Mount Mahameru. When fully functioning, the “source of life” was once symbolised by the water running through its stone.

Candi Tikus

To reach our next destination we skirted Kolam Segaran, a man made lake whose dimensions are 375m by 175m. During the Majapahit era the lake was used to entertain visiting dignitaries. Picnics were held on its banks and there were perahu to take the guests out on to the water. It is said that after each feast the plates and cutlery – often fashioned from silver – were discarded in the lake in a show of prosperity. It is also believed there was a palace nearby, although its exact location is disputed. Allegedly the paranormal can “see” where the cornerstones are laid, although aerial and other surveys have revealed no tangible evidence of this.

Also situated in Temon village, Candi Bajang Ratu takes its name from a King who was never crowned. Built in the 14th century to commemorate the death of Jayanegara, it is another example of a gate, though not fully open. The “wings” of the candi symbolise the “releasing of the soul”.

Candi Bajang Ratu

In Sentonorejo village we saw the 14 umpak of what was once a large, balé-style building (an open platform, or stage, with pillars leading to a thatched roof). It was here that plays would be enacted and other forms of entertainment offered to visiting dignitaries. Close by, we clambered over the ongoing dig at Candi Kedaton, where we were shown the skeletal remains of an adult male, unearthed at the site. The length of the femur and tibia/fibula, as well as the large skull, suggested that the people of this era were both tall and well-built.

We drove to the next site, situated in Bejijong village. Candi Brahu appeared to be modelled on the shape of a woman. It was interesting also that the “gate” was closed at the back. According to historical records, it was here that the cadavers of dead Kings were burned, although no physical evidence of this has ever been uncovered.

Candi Brahu

Our final stop was at Candi Minak Jinggo, another ongoing dig that has been stalled due to insufficient funding. It is so named because a large statue of a face bearing wings was discovered at the site, which the locals associated with the mythical warrior, Minak Jinggo. The statue itself is now on display in the National Museum in Jakarta.

posted by Kirk at 11:59 am  

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