The Guardian of Candi Sambisari

The Jakarta Globe has an interesting article on a lesser-known temple, Candi Sambisari in Yogyakarta, a Hindu structure that is unusual in that it faces west.

Guardian of a Yogyakarta Temple
Jakarta Globe, 15 October 2009

Candi Sambisari temple is about three kilometers north of the Yogyakarta Air Force Academy in Sleman district, and for a thousand years, volcanic debris kept it hidden from view and forgotten.

A farmer called Karyoinangun unearthed the temple while ploughing a field to plant cassava more than 30 years ago.

Karyoinangun, who was born in 1932, stills goes to tend to the temple every morning and stays until the late afternoon.

“I keep the temple clean, and when people ask, I show them the stone that my plough struck that morning,” he said.

Karyoinangun’s love for the temple is obvious. “I discovered it, helped to excavate it, and now I keep it clean,” he said.

Candi Sambisari now looks much like it must have in the ninth century when it was erected. The main temple measures almost 14-by-14 meters and is 7.5 meters high. Inside the main room of the temple is a linga phallic symbol standing in a massive yoni — representative of the female genitalia — with a mythical snake’s head carved into the base of the large stone. The linga represents the god Shiva, and in Sambisari is made of a stone that is denser and smoother than the rest of the andesite temple, indicating that it might have been imported from some faraway place.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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