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Prambanan is the ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to Trimurti, the highest three gods in Hinduism. The temple compound located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta city. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, currently is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and is one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia.

Ciwa Temple
Candi Prambanan, Ciwa temple

The temple complex could be divided in another dimension. Vertically, the complex of temples consists of three groups of temples, the foot temples, the body temples and the top temples. This grouping is as a symbol of relationship between the heavenly Devine, the earth and mankind. The foot temples expresses the lower world (the commoners), the body temples shows the middle world (the souls) and the top temples which express the highest world, the place for the Devine, God.

The heavenly beings are expressed as human, animals, ornaments, trees and others. All of these pictures showed as the place for the Divines, the Mahameru Mountain (Mahameru mountain lies in Jawa Timur, near Malang). Lorojonggrang could be pictured as replica of Mahameru Mountain, which was shown the presence of Lokapala in scriptures at the foot of Ciwa temple, which represent as God the guardian of the points of compass.

Ciwa Temples as the main temple had a gate at the East side. The stairs to this gate was wider compared to other stairs (The South, West and the North). At the left and right side of the gate there were two statues, Nandiswara and Mahakala. These two statues are manifestation of Ciwa and function as guards of the entrance gate.

Ornamentals at the outer side of the wall were of Prambanan type, Kalama Kara, heavenly beings in dancing and music playing postures, and other ornamentals representing God's heavenly nature. The base of the temple is surrounded by an open veranda with balustrade in the outer side. The inner side of the balustrade was in scripted Ramayana story as relief. The story of Ramayana is started from the east.

The main body of the temple consist of four rooms, inside each room lies the statue of Agastya, the Ciwa, the Mahaguru (at the South room) Ganeca as a figure of the Son of Ciwa (at the west room), the statue of Durga mahesasuramardini as Ciwa the invulnerable (at the North room) and the statue of Ciwa Mahadewa (Ciwa the Supreme Devine) as the ultimate figure in the temple, which occupied the central room. The top of the temple is a multistory structure.

Each level is ornamented with diamond-shape figures. The overall dimension of the top temple is 47 meters high and 34 x34 square meters. The very top part of the temple is a diamond shape structure.

Relief of Ciwa Temple

According to A.J. Bernet Kempers and Sukmono (1974), the inner side of the balustrade in scripted with the story of Ramayana. In that story, Rama a reincarnation of Wisnu, Sinta his wife and Laksmana, his younger brother went to the wood. Many happenings occurred during their journey in the wood.

Sinta was kidnapped by Rahwana, a demonic giant and ran into Rahwana's palace in Alengka. The Rama got help from the king of the Ape Kingdom, Hanoman. Soldiers of apes leaded by Rama moved to Alengka. The row of the in scripted story ended at the scene where the soldiers of apes were making a bridge connecting to the palace of Rahwana.

The next is the main part of Ramayana story, which can be followed by walking along the alley with the main temple at the right. It was told in that story that the Gods visited Wisnu, asking permission to be allowed to descend to earth in the form of Rama.

  • 1. Wicwamitra, the priest, asked Rama's father to face the demonic giants who frequently came disturbing his meditation.
  • 2. Rama and Laksmana defeated some giants.
  • 3-4. Rama is marrying Sinta as a prize in a contest using the Ciwa bow.
  • 5. Sinta was carried home. On his way home he met Paracurawa, which Rama was able to extend the bow.
  • 6-7. Due to the intrigues by one of his father's wife, Rama became illegible to inherit the throne. Bharata substituted his position, and then Rama went into the wood.
  • 7. Preparation for the cremation of his father.
  • 8. Bharata announced Rama that he would like to run the kingdom on behalf of Rama. As a symbol he put Rama's sandals at the throne.
  • 9. Rama and his companions entered the wood, having battles with male and female giants.
  • 10-12. Others go for hunting; Sinta was then kidnapped by Rahwana in the form of brahmana. Then Brahmana reformed back to Rahwana, jatayu, the King of the birds tried to save Sinta but was in faint.
  • 13-14. Rama met Hanoman.
  • 15. Laksmana took water and it turned out the tears of Sugriwa, the ape who was ousted from the kingdom by his own brother.
  • 16. Rama showed his superiority in archery to Sugriwa.
  • 17. An-interfere the battle between Sugriwa and his brother. Rama killed Sugriwa's brother by his arrow.
  • 18. Rama received honor from the people of the ape kingdom.
  • 19. An agreement to sent Hanoman to Alengka to spy Rahwana.
  • 20. Hanoman met Sinta.
  • 21. But Hanoman was captured and fortunately he was able to release himself. Finally he burned Alengka, Rahwana's Palace.
  • 22. Hanoman returned to Rama.
  • 23. Soldiers of apes marched toward the coast where Rama received an honor from the God of the sea.

  • Last revised on September 16, 2009
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