Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A Visit to Home Country Part 3 - Borobudur Temple and the Influence of Buddhism on Indonesian batik 母国を訪ねて (その3) ボロブドゥール寺院とインドネシアのバティックへの仏教の影響

My husband and I at Borobudur

A half of my homecoming trip was spent in the city of Jogjakarta. My husband and father in-law arrived on the 6th of February at the Jakarta airport and the next day we left for Jogjakarta with my younger sister and her 5-year-old son. We took a train and arrived in Jogjakarta at about 2 in the morning. I was sooooo relieved :-)..because the first time my husband took a train to Surabaya from Bandung in 2009 was such an nightmare for him. A supposed-to-be 12 hour-ride extended to a 16-hour ride. It was a real torture for him. So this time it wasn't. In fact the train was quite punctual. I was impressed! :)


A visit to Jogjakarta wouldn't be perfect if you didn't visit the magnificent Borobudur: a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument located in the Magelang city about 40 kilometers northwest of Jogjakarta. Six square platforms topped by three circular platforms make up the monument that represents a mandala. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The main dome at the center of the top platform is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside stupa that has holes so that you can see the statues inside.


Borobudur surrounded by greenery

How come a country whose 86% of the population is Moslem has one of the most grand Buddhist monuments in the world! Well, the reason is that some time before 5th century AD the archipelago (which is now called Indonesia (インドネシア) received the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism from India that went as far as Sumatra, Java, and Bali. Not all of the 13,000 received this influence though. That is why most Hindu and Buddhist temples are found in these three islands.


From the entrance to the temple it takes about 15 to 30 minute walk. If you walk fast and don't stop for a few minutes to admire this majestic animal that roams the park with its mahout, you can reach the temple less than 30 minutes. But in my case, it took a bit more than that because my nephew wanted to see Ganesh more closely. He had never seen an elephant roaming freely outside a cage :-D


the elephant with its mahout roaming in the park surround Borobudur

now he's ready to continue his giant step to Borobudur after a closer look at Ganesh :)

Once I got there (with several stops to catch my breath), I was marveled at the spectacular relief on the panels of the temple. It must have taken years and years to carve blocks of stone to create the relief. I knew very little about what is depicted except for the story of Siddhartha Gautama from Little Buddha where my favorite actors plays as Buddha :-) I wondered if Buddha was as cute as Keanu Reeves :-D


What is noticeable on the relief is the presence of lotus. The lotus is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in Buddhism. Buddhas and Bodhisattva are often depicted sitting on a lotus or holding a lotus. The lotus' root is planted in deep mud. In spite of that the blossom rises above the murky water and opens in the sun with remarkable beauty and fragrance. In Buddhism, the lotus represents the true nature of beings, who rise through samsara into the beauty and clarity of enlightenment.


Lotus reliefs on the panels
Not only on the relief of temples, Hinduism and Buddhism also left their lotus on other form of arts such as batik. The blossoming lotus later developed into four ellipses that represent four-petaled lotus. Inside the ellipse appear crosses and ornaments such as lines or dots. This batik pattern is then called kawung. Considering its sacred symbol, in the past where the feudal system dominated in Java, only aristocrat were allowed to wear this motif.


Lotus - Kawung motif 

a woman of aristocracy wore kawung design

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