Candi Cetho, Central Java
high-definition creative commons photographs from the fertility temple Candi Cetho in Central Java together with further information.
Introduction to Candi Cetho
Cetho Temple is a Hindu-style temple that was built in the late Majapahit era (15th century AD). The location of the temple is on the slope of Mount Lawu at an altitude of 1496 m above sea level, and administratively it is located in Cetho Hamlet in Jenawi District, Karanganyar Regency.
The temple complex is used by local residents as well as Hindu pilgrims as a place of worship. This temple is also a hermitage for the traditional Javanese religion.
The first scientific report on the Cetho temple was made by Van de Vlies in 1842. A.J. Bernet Kempers also conducted research on it in the middle of the 20th century. Excavation for the purpose of reconstruction and discovery of hidden objects was first carried out in 1928 by the Archaeological Office of the Dutch East Indies. The temple is similar to the Sukuh temple, which is around 12 km away.
The temple was originally on 14 ascending terraces, extending from the lowest in the west to the highest in the east, although currently there are only 13 terraces, and restoration is complete on only nine terraces. Its terraced structure shows syncretism of the indigenous culture of the archipelago with Hinduism, something that is reinforced by the iconography.
Restoration in the late 1970s conducted unilaterally by Sudjono Humardani, President Suharto’s personal assistant changed many of the original structures of the temple, although the concept of the staircase was retained. This restoration has been much criticized by archaeologists, considering that the restoration of an ancient site cannot be done without in-depth study. Some of the new objects of restoration that are considered not original are the magnificent arches on the front of the complex, wooden buildings around the hermitage, various statues, the massive phallus, and the cubic building near the top of the candi.
On the third level, there is the story of Ki Ageng Krincingwesi, the ancestor of the people of Cetho village. The shape of the human body on the reliefs resembles shadow puppets (wayang), with a side view but the body tends to look forward. Similar depictions, which show the characteristics of the late Hindu-Buddhist historical period, are found in Sukuh Temple.
Before entering the fifth level, on the right wall of the gate there is an inscription in Old Javanese script. This has been interpreted to say the function of the temple is to purify oneself and it mentions the year of the construction of the gate, which is 1397 Saka or 1475 AD. There is a horizontal stone setting on the ground that depicts a giant turtle, and a 2-meter long phallus symbol equipped with a type of piercing decoration called ampallang. Turtles are a symbol of the creation of the universe while the penis is a symbol of human creation. There are depictions of other animals, such as frogs and crabs. The animal symbols, can be read as ciphers indicating the number 1373 Saka, or 1451 AD. It can be seen that the temple complex was built in stages or through several renovations.
At the sixth level, you can find reliefs that show the Sudamala story, similar to that found Candi Sukuh. This story is still popular among Javanese people as the basis for certain ceremonies. The next two levels contain pavilions which flank the temple entrance. Even now the pavilions are used as a place to hold religious ceremonies.
At the seventh level, two statues can be found on the north and south sides. On the north side is the Sabdapalon statue and in the south of Nayagenggong, two half-mythical figures believed to be servants and spiritual advisors of King Brawijaya V.
On the eighth level there is a statue of the phallus in the north, and a statue of King Brawijaya V in the form of a god. The worship of the phallus statue symbolizes the expression of gratitude and hope for the abundant fertility of the local earth.
The ninth level is the highest level for prayers. Here is the cube-shaped stone building. At the top of the Cetho Temple complex is a building that was once used as a place to clean up before performing ritual ceremonies.
Text translated and adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, Sept 27th 2019)
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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