I felt curious when I see through Borobudur temple; did anyone ever try to estimate how many architects and technical artists works behind the splendor of Borobudur? What kind of art technology capable of producing the relief works on it?
Vihara Buddha Uhr, the Buddhist Monastery on the Hill
Borobudur temple is located in Muntilan, Magelang and is about 42 kilometers from Yogyakarta city. The Borobudur itself is one of Buddhist sanctuary, more than a thousand years old, it is recognized as one of the greatest stupa and World’s wonder of its kind in the world. Today, it is the center of tourist attraction in Central Java.
The name "Borobudur" is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words, Vihara Buddha Uhr, meaning the Buddhist Monastery on the hill. It is the greatest Buddhist work of art which still existing in the world.
Borobudur as World Art Treasure
Besides the thoughts of this magnificent building we also can walk around, enjoy and read Borobudur’s relief by Pradaksina method without a guide book. Because the reliefs itself looks like a 3D animation movie at the earliest forms of animation art. The different is, to watch modern movies, we only sit and then the movie played.
Animation was derived from the word Anima which means people, thus animation means “humanizing”. So it is the intention to give a “life” on something that is not alive and the object seems “live” because it is whether driven by programs, by a person’s hand, or with stop-motion technique, the important thing is if the result was something that “lives”, it means you’ve managed to create an animation.
Based on the definition of animation above, the animation itself was not started from the time of Walt Disney, with the mouse that we know as Mickey Mouse, published the first animation movie. Animation had actually been there even since the stone age. As an example is a cave in northern Spain, Altamira. There are many paintings on it’s walls. The painting had been there since thousands of years ago which is actually a time of early humans. In that time Indonesia has animation in Borobudur temple’s relief as well.
Borobudur as Architectural Masterpiece
Borobudur’s architects and sculptors designed it to serve the purpose of veneration, worship and meditation, though Borobudur is not a temple as such. The beauty of art, story telling technique, artistic, symbols, meanings, and matters relating to the artistic work has been reviewed, but the simple facts, there must be thousands of technical workers who support the work of art workers behind the establishment of Borobudur.
The early architects designed the structure built around a natural mound of earth resting upon a stone foundation of two layers, square in plan with regular shaped projections making 36 corners in all.
The structure, composed of 55,000 square meters of lava-rock is erected on a hill in the form of a stepped-pyramid of six rectangular storeys, three circular terraces and a central stupa forming the summit. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa, standing 40 meters above the ground.
The whole structure is in the form of a lotus, the sacred flower of Buddha. The walls of the Borobudur are sculptured in bas-reliefs, extending over a total length of 6 kilometers.
Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built around the turn of the 9th century A.D, Borobudur is still used for pilgrimage; once a year Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. It has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit, each scene an individual masterpiece.
It is said that if you put your arm through one of the bell-shaped stupa and can touch the stone within, you will have your wish come true. I’ve tried it, and whether it was coincidence or not, my wish has already came true.
All photos (c) Clefy & Erik, 2009.
Clefy, lulusan Fakultas Desain & Seni Rupa sebuah institusi di Bandung ini kini sedang melanjutkan pendidikan di Florence, Italy. Temukan tulisan lain Clefy di website pribadinya yang dikelola bersama sang suami di Clefy and Erik. :)