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Notes qf a brief visit to some of the Indian remains in Java.—.By Lieut.-Colonel HENRY YULE, Bengal Engineers.
It is not likely that much of what I have to say on this subject has not already been told. But these remains are now seldom visited by travellers from India ; the accounts of them are probably not familiar; and they are surrounded with such deep interest to all who care for Indian antiquity, that I trust my brief account will not be regarded as superfluous.
It is well known that the central and eastern portions of Java abound with remains of unquestionable Indian origin, both Buddhistic and Brahminical, uniting with the evidence of language and literature in testifying to an extensive intercourse between the countries, of which nothing like real history remains. The accounts of these ruins by Raflies and Crawford had long ago excited my curiosity, and the opportunity I enjoyed some years ago of exploring analogous remains in Burma had converted this into a deeper and more intelligent interest. When therefore in September 1860 I found myself obliged to take a. sea voyage, the chance of seeing with my own eyes these mysterious remains not a little influenced me in directing my course to Java.
The localities visited were Boro Bodor and its vicinity in the valley of Kadii, a very garden of cultivation even in that pearl of islands, and Brambénan on the borders of the two still quasi-independent states of S010 and Djokjokarta.
My companion in these visits was Dr. Macpherson of the Madras Army, whose praiseworthy exertions in the exploration of primeval antiquities at Kertch during the Crimean war are well known. In our visit to Boro Bodor, we had the advantage of the company of Mr. Elliott Martin, an English gentleman long resident as a planter in the interior of Java. Boro Bodor we visited from Magelang, the “ Suddur station,” as we should call it, of the Kathi‘ district, from which it is thirteen miles distant.
Our first object was the temple of Mundét, about 3 miles from the greater monument, Boro Bodor. .
This temple was not known to Rattles and Crawfurd, and possibly has not been described in any English book. Nothing but a. tumulus
I is said to have been visible on the spot when accident, in the year
1834, led to the discovery that a temple was concealed beneath. As there is no soil but highly cultivated mould in the neighbourhood, the ruins must have been buried by volcanic ashes. Indeed, there can be little doubt that it had been covered by an eruption from the nearest of the still active volcanoes, Mir Api, which, though the least elevated of four magnificent cones that tower over the district of Kadii, rises to a height of 9208 feet above the sea. The discoverer of the temple was Mr. -Hartman, the Resident (or as we should say Commissioner) of Magelang, one of the ablest and most popular oflicers of the Dutch government, and whose memory continues with singular permanence in the recollection of the people. The interior also of the temple was choked with soil, and according to the native
.story that was told us, the bottom was deeply covered with bat’s
guano, so that the labourers employed on the offensive business of removing it got a rupee a day from Mr. Hartman. This would seem to show that the eruption occurred long after the temple had been abandoned. The adjacent soil now stands 3 or 4 feet above the base of the building, but an area has been excavated all round to the original level. All is now kept with that neatness and regard for appearances which so eminently characterises the rulers of Java. The temple is surrounded by a garden and fence, with a bungalow for visitors.
The general aspect of the temple is shown in the sketch which I produce, (Fig. 1), and strongly recalls that of some of the smaller ancient temples in Burma. It stands on a basement of about 70 feet square and from 15 to 16 feet high. The superstructure is about 45 feet square externally, and its height including the basement I guessed at about 65 feet. On three sides there is a very slight projection, giving a quasi-cruciform plan to the building, and on the fourth a portico now gone far to ruin, and a flight of steps descending from the elevated basement.
The entrance door is, as far as I could make out, towards the north. I had no compass, and the sun was so nearly vertical, that I could not satisfy myself of its precise direction. In other Buddhist temples that I have seen, whether in Java or Burma, the opening has been to the East.
The cube of the building has been surmounted by a pyramidal
roof, rising in terraces apparently. But it is in too great ruin to allow
of one’s determining its exact form. When perfect the temple must have been a noble structure.
The material is a close-grained but not heavy volcanic stone, well out, and very finely jointed, but without mortar. It is much cracked, and whole surfaces of wall threaten to come down.
This absence of mortar is common to all the ancient buildings that I visited, and the result is a degree of dilapidation far greater than age, or even perhaps earthquake, need have occasioned in structures otherwise so solid, a dilapidation which is rapidly advancing and cannot be materially retarded.
The absence of mortar is also a notable feature in the ancient brick temples of Pagan in Burma, in the temple at Buddh-Gya, (but that is
certainly Burmese work), and I believe also in the Ceylonese remains, _
as it is in the topes of Sanchi and Benares. It would be curious to ascertain what is the earliest Indian building in which the joints are set in mortar, and whether the absence of it is peculiar to Buddhist or to sacred buildings. There was no ignorance of the use of lime, as I shall mention presently.
The greatest singularity of this, as of some others of the temples in Java, consists in the strange combination of Buddhism and Brahminism which they present. In fact an intelligent Madras servant who was with me, and who explored everything with great interest, hit the right nail on the head in saying “ Master ; inside temple like Burmese, outside like I-Iindoo.” The inside cell is about 20 feet square rising vertically 16 or 18 feet and then tapering upwards by the projection of each successive layer of stone an inch or two beyond that which underlies it, like the under side of a staircase. It is in fact a form of aspiration towards the arch which is found in primitive buildings in many parts of the world, in the Pelasgian remains of the Peloponnesus and of Asia Minor, and in the tombs of Kertch and of Etruria, in the so-called Picts’ houses of Northern Scotland, in the ancient palaces of Yucatan, and in the arcades of the Kootub at Delhi; and is identical in principle with the timber szmga with which the Himalayan mountaineers span successfully rivers of more than 100 feet in width.
The cell contains three colossal images, carved in a hard and polished granular volcanic stone probably trachyte. The central one,