Rama–Legends and Rama–Reliefs In Indonesia (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: IHL127
Edition: 1989
ISBN: 8170172519
Pages: 555 (Illustrated in B/W)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.0 Inch X 9.0 Inch
Weight 2.95 kg
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Book Description

From the Jacket

The work first published in 1925 in the series Der Indische Kultukreis in Einzeldartellungen has been considered classic but has not been alas easily accessible to the English reading public. Also for long the work has been out of print. With the publication of the English translation many new vistas of exploration will immediately open up. It is remarkable that despite the paucity of published material the comparative absence of structural linguistic models for the study of languages and theoretical paradigms the late Professor Stutterheim employs the tools of structural linguistic analysis comparative literature and historical reconstruction. This is a far more challenging task than descriptive archaeology and stylistic analysis. Fundamental to this is his ability to correlate and revaluate the relationship between the written texts and oral transmission. While all this is very familiar to contemporary scholarship a reading of this monograph convinces one that Professor Stutterheim anticipated modern scholarship of many decades. His concern was not restricted to the archaeological features of this group of temples but went much further into interpretation and identification of the historical processes of acculturization diffusion and autochthonous tendencies. Along with the late Professor D.C. Sen he may be considered the first scholar to draw attention to the role or the oral enunciation of the Rama Legends in different parts of Asia. In this monograph he forcefully argues that Valmiki’s Ramayana was not the basis of the Indonesian version and disagrees with the hypothesis that Kamban provided a model or even that hanuman nataka was the original source. He comes to the interesting conclusion that perhaps Gujarat was the source. Much has been written on the subject during the past few decades however Professor Stutterheim’s argument remains fresh. Perhaps scholars will want to re-explore the sources of the Gujarati version of the Ramayana as also the Panhi Stories of Java.

The monograph will also stimulate discussion on a most contemporary concern i.e. the relationship of the text and the image the adherence the interpretations and the deviations of late many art historians have been concerned in their respective ways to analyze the interface of text and image. The monograph is of immediate contemporary relevance as a theoretical model for modern scholarship.


About the Author

Willem Frederik Stutterheim (1893-1942) will long remain as the great towering figure of the early 20th century who in his brief life span displayed a perception into the Indonesian monuments which has been hard to excel. Although coming in the wake of the great French and Dutch scholars he not only held his own but argued and debated convincingly with his peers such as the late Prof. Brandes Krom Bosch and another.

Director of eastern classical studies in Indonesia at Surakarta in Central Java for about a decade from 1936 he was the chief of the Archaeological service of the Netherlands Indies.

He clearly pointed out deviations form the classical norms and identified local elements depicted on the Siva temple of the Lara Jongran complex at Prambanan. In fact this subject is dealt with in the first part. In the second part he analyses the Rama reliefs of candi Panataran which though much younger is an important monument is east java. His studies on other monuments are also noteworthy as they throw new light for instance on Borobudud. His work is characterized by an elucidation of the deeper meanings of monuments as on the Jala Tunda. His Indian influences on Old Balinese art appeared from London in 1935. His studies on the Kraton palaces of the Majapahit based on Prapanca’s description are compared with the remains of royal palaces in Bali and elsewhere. He initiated investigations and several monuments like Gunun vukir Ratu book and candi Javi.



In the smiling fields of the village Pramabanan in the harmony of man’s spirit with the spirit of nature rises the immensity of the sky kissing temple of Siva. The central spire of the main temple of Siva holds the viewer in its enthralling height of over 140 feet as if sprung from immortal life a life that is immense. The entire complex of Prambanan comprises 8 temples in the inner courtyard and 224 parivara temples a marvelous architectonic composition reminding you of an unknown master sitting in an ancient morning to weave the trembling melodies of meditation into the permanence of stone. Built at the beginning of the tenth century by king Balitun it lost its splendor as the royal residence moved to east java. After centuries of neglect the temples collapsed in an earthquake about 1549 A.D. ever since this marvel has lived in the lyric of legend recounted by endless generations of simple peasant folk.

The legend goes the Bandun Bondovoso the son of the sorcerer Damar Moyo was engaged by the king of Pengin to kill Ratu Boko the giant king who wished to marry his adopted son to the beautiful daughter of the king. Aided by the magic of this father Bondovoso attacked the giant army and finally killed Ratu Boko by heaving him bodily into a lake where he was drowned. As a reward the king of Pengin made Bondovoso his regent in the territories of Ratu Bolil Now Ratu Boko had pretty daughter named loro Jongran and Bondovoso aspired to her hand. She knew him for ht slayer of her father and fearing to refuse him outright tried to put him off by imposing an in six great buildings the like of which and legendry rulers of Prambanan. Bondovoso the son of the sorcerer had no difficulty in summoning sufficient gnomes to do the work and towards daybreak the task was almost finished. By a title magic of her own Loro Jongran succeeded in preventing the placing of the thousandth statue only nine hundred and ninety nine being present when the cock crowed and the time was up. Bondovoso was furious with frustration and lacking one statue of a ruler of Prambanan he thundered out that the daughter of a ruler would do as well pronouncing a curse on Loro Jongran and changed her into stone. So is the legend about the establishment of the temple complex of Prambanan which is called the Candi Loro Jongran.

The above enumeration is open to consideration subject to change when an agama text can be found that goes with the temple. The appropriate identification of the 24 dikpalas and the characteristics of the eight main dikpalas may provide a key to the concerned agama or silpa text on which the parivara of Siva of our Candi’s based. As evident prima facie the number thousand is derived from the Vajradhatu mandala of Candi Sevu. The number thousand was specific to the main mahamandala of the Vajradhatu system. As a palladium of the state the Vajradhatu mahamandala was the temple of the kingdom and as such its power had to thousand fold. In the Hellenic world too the safety to Troy was held to depend on the palladium which was the image of Pallas. Candi Prambanan seems to have closely followed the Buddhist Candi Sevu where Vairocana as the Ekaksara cakravartin was intended to consecrate and stabilize the sovereignty of the dynasty.

The number thousand played a pre-eminent role in the stability of the state. The English word thousand has the base teu tu great Sanskrit tavas strong energetic courageous and hundred. It can be seen in Old Norse thus-hund old Frankish thus-chunde as the great hundred. Thousand was the power strength might sturdiness, durability the enduring and lasting attribute of the state. Thus the thousand statues of the Candi Prambanan mush have been erected to sanctify the continuity of power to vitalize enduring safeguards dharmo raksti raksitah. The security of the state was so vital and fundamental in India that it was apotheosized in the Sahasrabhuja Avalokitesvara with a thousands hands with an eye on each palm. The thousand eyes refer to the powerful intelligence apparatus of the state. The Sanskrit adage goes cara-caksuso rajanah the eyes of a king are his spies the effectiveness of the state is its intelligence system. Constant thousand fold vigilance is the continuing price of stability. The information thus obtained has to be activated by an equally potent administrative machinery. The thousand arms or hands are the harmful and all pervading action of the state. Royal residence shifted from Central to east java around A.D. 930 not too long after the completion of Candi Prambanan. The shifting of the seat the power indicated an assumed or a real threat of insecurity and it only goes to enforce the presumption that the motivation for the construction of the Prambanan complex was to secure the state which it did achieve for a time whose span depends on the date of the construction of the temple complex.

The number thousand has played a central role in the Buddhist Weltanschauung of the state. Harihara the symbol of the state became the thousand armed Avalokitesvara. In this process he lost all his original attributes of Harihara which were substituted by a thousand arms. The Chinese hymns to the thousand armed Avalokitesvara have preserved the attributes of harihara the two faces of Varaha and Narasimha, lotus vajra cakra and conch in the four hands pertain to the Hari aspect. The Hara aspect is represented by blue complexion epithets like Niscaresvara Sthanvisvara a black serpent as the sacred thread. Tripuradahana or the destroyer of the three cities holder of poison the fury of his unique laughter atthahasa siddha yogisvara in the images these characteristics have been abandoned and only the thousand arms remain. That the thousand armed Avalokitesvara bestowed the mega power of the state is clear from Amoghavajra’s ritual according to the yoga tantras which prays sighram vasam me restram sarajakami kuru sahasra bhuja sahasra vira lokesvare. Likewise the Vajradhatu mandala of the Buddhist Candi Sevu conditioned the conceptualization of Candi Pramabanan as a complex of thousand statues.

Legend associates the foundation of Candi Prambanan with Ratu Boko. The Ratu Boko inscription of saka 714 (= A.D. 792/3) is dedicated to Padmapani Avalokistesvara and also to Abhayagiri monastery which was a seat of Vajrayana at the end of the eight century. As a centre of Vajrayana the Vajradhatu mandala must have naturally played a central role.

Candi Loro Jongran has ever been the pride of the Indonesians who to this very day proclaim that even in this modern time no nation can match the skill such as we see at Prambanan. Since 1918 the Archaeological service of Indonesia has been busy restoring the colossal central temple of Siva by the system of anastylosis where each and every stone that is lying fallen near the temple or has been carried away by the village folk has to be collected photographed and jigsawed into its appropriate placement by a painstaking and through study of the joinings chisel marks the depicted legends and stylistic patterns. By December 1953 the reconstruction of the main Siva temple was completed a marvel of archaeological engineering.

In the Prambanan complex Hindu Javanese art reached the culmination of its florescence. In largeness of conception and daring in composition it surpassed all former creations. The 224 parivara temples reach an imposing height of 45 feet each and may represent the 224 universe of the cosmological system of the Saiva Siddhanta. While these peripheral temples may correspond to the Cakravada peaks, the eight temples in the inner court may be the eight pinnacles of the Manasa Mountain. Though a precise interpretation awaits research it is certain that the temples and sub temples reflect the cosmography of intuition the symbolization where b we may cross over the world of time and form. Winding through the sub temples arhitecturing the manifoldness of the inner world the visitor moves on into the unity of primordial consciousness symbolized in Siva in the central temple. It is like a journey along the spiritual path away from the world of space and time to the timeless omnipresence of cosmic consciousness. There we stood in front of the statue of Siva towering over us and over the moulds of time and space. In the soft transparency of the twilight of this sanctum we could feel the music of Sanskrit stotras sung centuries ago. As I myself recited a Sanskrit sloka it resounded back sinking into the deeps of mysterious wellspring of spiritual strata. The acoustics of the soaring spire enriched by the melodies of a millennium has a lyrical way of growing on you. There I stood in the eternal serenity of the statue of Lord Siva consubstantiated in supreme vision me and my Siva Alone.



Now that an excellent monograph on the great Buddhist monument of Java Borobudur has been published it will be extremely welcomed by the admires of Hindu Javanese sculpture if a book or a work on the Rama reliefs of Prambanan is published will all illustrations and explanations.

Thus wrote Prof. Dr. J. Ph. Vogel (BKI. 77.215) in his study of the first relief of the Rama series of reliefs of Candi Jongran situated in the Prambanan temple complex.

No better argument can be adduced for the publication of this book I quotation from the famous archaeologist. All the time that I was working on this book I kept the above mentioned in mind and when I made known my plans fro the same I learnt that others were also of the same opinion. The publication of the old photographs of the with a short but often wrong text is really extremely full of mistakes. Since then the investigations of Dr. Brandes have shown that the Candi Lara Jongran is of greater values and importance than has been generally accepted till now.

It is clear that a revised edition of the reliefs has to offer more than just a photo album with descriptive remarks. The difficulty was however to decide how broad a base the new edition should have. As if of its own accord a point view on this emerged and that was a the uncertainly regarding the version of the Ramayana used in preparing the reliefs. Therefore at first one had to try and remove this uncertainly. As a result of this the study did not remain merely archaeological but during the collection of material it became evident that the investigation into the version of the Ramayana used would take up at least half the work. A comparison between the Indian and the Indonesian editions of the Rama legends lent itself to the possibility of incorporating here must that was not known generally and had not been published.

After investigations into the meaning of the contents of the reliefs their stylistic importance had to follow. Thus the material divided itself of its own accord into two parts into a literary and into a stylistic one. The possibility which the Rama reliefs of Candi Panataran offered to examine the development of the eastern Javanese style from the Central Javanese style and thereby to determine the specific Javanese style at least as far as the art of the reliefs is concerned was too tempting to be left unanswered. In this context the question of the origin of the art of Candi Lara Jongran naturally became important just as a similar question regarding the version of the Rama story had been treated in the first part. It could be shown that one could not separate this origin from the Buddhist art of Central Java. Thus the investigation became more voluminous regarding modern Java as well as ancient India. In my opinion it was possible only in this manner to get the best results. That however sometimes fresh problems instead of positive results came up and much had to remain unexplained can only be justified due to my modest efforts and the volume of this study. I consider it a necessity to express my most heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed to the fact that my has been able to achieve some results.

To begin with my thanks to the college of curators of the University of Leiden which made it possible for me to undertake the journey during which I collected the necessary materials for this work though the journey during which I collected the necessary materials for this work though the journey was originally meant for another reason. I am especially indebted to the following professors of the University of Leiden Prof. Dr. G.A.J. Hazeu, Prof. Dr. N. J. Krom, Prof. Dr. Ph. S. Van Rokel, Prof. Dr. J. Ph. Vogel who helped me in every way and even underwent much trouble for my sake I received a tremendous amount of help and friendship from the director of the Rijks Ethnographsich Museum Dr. H.H. Juynboll who permitted me to have access at all times to the collection of the Museum and also from his librarian Miss W. Hozee.

It is generally not possible to name all those who helped me abroad in collecting my material. I am restricting myself therefore in thanking the director of the Museum of Ethnology in Berlin, Dr. F.W.K Muller, Dr. C.O. Blagden of the school of oriental studies in London and the director of the India office library London Dr. F.W. Thomas. An exception has to be made n the case of those whose information I have incorporated in my book or whose information I have incorporated in my book or whose information was necessary from the factual point of view. I should like to mention in particular Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen, Prof. Dr. K. Dohring and Prof. Dr. A. Grunwedel I am very grateful to them all for all their help.

Not least do I feel grateful to Mr. P.V. Van Stein Callenfels who put at my disposal his rich knowledge and his manifold experience regarding the facts of modern Java.

I should very much like to express my thanks to my future boss Dr. F.D.K. Bosch the director of the department of archaeology of the Netherlands East Indies for the Readiness with which he allowed me to publish the official photos. The same goes for the superintendent of the Archaeological survey of India of the Northern Circle Mr. Daya Ram Sahni who even allowed me to publish his findings and also to the museum of ethnology Berlin.

Finally I should like to express my thanks to Prof. Dr. Karl Dohring who was extremely helpful in the selection and collation of the plates and that this book has appeared in a beautiful Form.




  Prologue: Kapila Vatsyayan vii
  Preface: Lokesh Chandra xi
  Willem Frederik Stuttercheim (1892-1942) C.D. Paliwal xxi
  From his Daughter xxv
  Foreword: W.F. Stutterheim xxix
Volume I
I Rama in literature and folklore 1
II The Malayan Legend of Rama 17
III The Javanese Rama Legend 51
IV The Origin of the Indonesian Deviations 165
V Rama Legends and the epic 83
VI Rama in plastic arts 101
VII The Rama Reliefs of Lara Jongran 109
VIII The Rama Reliefs of Panataran 149
IX Stylistic Comparison 161
X The Rama Reliefs on the Visnu Temple at Deogarh 183
XI Remarks on plates added for comparison 187
  Notes 189
  List of Literature cited in the text and notes 253
  Abbreviations 261
  Index 263
Volume II
  List of plates  
  Half tone illustrations  
  Part 1  
  Part 2  

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