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    Mendut Temple, Magelang - Central Java

    Mendut is located in Mendut village of Mungkid subdistrict in Magelang, Central Java, approximately 38 kilometers to the northwest from Yogyakarta. It is only 3 kilometers from Borobudhur Temple, which is believed to be closely related to Pawon and Mendut temples. The three temples are on a straight line from north to south.

    There is no certainty as to the year the temple was erected, but J.G. de Casparis argues that Mendut was built by the first king of Syailendra dynasty in 824 AD. The assumption is founded on the content of Karangtengah inscription (824 AD), which mentions King Indra had built a shrine called Wenuwana. Casparis interprets Wenuwana (bamboo forest) as Mendut temple. This temple is also assumed to be older than Borobudur.

    Mendut temple was discovered in 1836. The entire structure was found, except the roof that had already crumbled. Between 1897 and 1904, the Dutch government initiated restoration works that yielded satisfactory result, although the temple was still far from perfection. This work had managed to restore the temple’s base and body were reconstructed. In 1908, Van Erp led reconstruction and restoration works on the temple that aimed to restore the roof, place stupas, and repair parts of the roof top. The works had once halted due to financial constraints, but were continued on in 1925.

    Mendut is laid out on a rectangular plan, standing 26.4 meters high. The body of this Buddhist temple is laid on a 2 meter high platform, which also serves as a walkway. The wall that encircles the platform is adorned with 31 panels of story-telling relief, and sculptures of beautiful flowers and climbing plants.

    Some spots along the walkway’s outer wall have jaladwara or water channel to drain water from the walkway. Jaladwara is common to most temples in Central Java and Yogyakarta, such as Borobudur, Banyuniba, Prambanan and Ratu Baka. While retaining its artistic nature, jaladwara varies in design from one temple to the other.

    Stairs to the walkway are placed on the west side, right in front of the door into the temple’s interior. The door has a projecting corbelled roof as high as the roof of the temple and has neither gate nor frame.

    The stairs’ banisters are embellished with sculptured panels describing stories of Buddhist teaching. The bottom end of each banister holds a dragon head with mouth wide open, carrying a statue of lion inside. Under the dragon head, there is a panel carrying relief of a dwarf that looks like a Gana.

    The temple’s roof comprises three cubes arranged in ever-decreasing size to the top, similar to that of the temples in Dieng and Gedongsanga. The cubes are encircled by 48 small stupas. The roof’s top has crumbled, which makes it not possible to describe the original form.

    The wall in the corbelled roof’s interior is adorned with relief of Kuwera or Avataka on the north and Hariti on the south. Kuwera is a man-eating giant who repents after seeing the Buddha. The giant changed into god of fortune and guardian of children. Kuwera is married to Hariti, who also used to be a man-eating giant. As her husband does, Hariti repents after seeing the Buddha and becomes a guardian of children. This relief of Kuwera and Hariti is found in most temples of Tantrayana Buddhism such as Sewu, Banyuniba and Kalasan.

    In the relief Kuwera is depicted sitting on a bench among children at play. Under the bench, there is a money pouch. Money pouch is characteristic of Kuwera as the god of fortune. Hariti relief portrays identical atmosphere. Hariti is sitting on a bench with a child on her lap among children at play.

    The temple’s body carries relief friezes depicting the life of Buddha. The southern wall is adorned with relief of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, depicting the Buddha sitting on lotus throne under the shade of kalpataru tree. To his right is Dewi Tara sitting on lotus throne and to his left is another woman who is also sitting on lotus throne. Two clouds hang over them, each with a figure of man reading a book. To their left and right sides, there are stone pillars with a dwarf on top bearing something. Buddha is facing a pool full of lotus flowers. The pool’s water comes from teardrops of the Buddha who is sad to think of the miseries of human beings in the world. Two women are depicted to appear amid lotuses in the pool.

    The eastern wall carries relief sculpture of Bodhisattva, depicting the Buddha as a figure with four arms standing on an object that looks like a linga. He is wearing imperial clothes and his head emanates rays of divine light. A book is on his rear left hand, prayer beads on his rear right hand, while the two front hands are in varamudra or blessing position. To his left, there is a jug containing a lotus flower.

    The northern wall is embellished with relief sculpture depicting Dewi Tara sitting on lotus throne flanked by two men. Tara is described in this sculpture as a goddess with eight arms. The four left hands hold an oyster, wajra, cakra, and prayer beads, while the four right hands hold a saucer, axe, stick, and book.

    The west or front wall carries relief sculpture of Sarwaniwaranawiskhambi standing under an umbrella wearing imperial clothes.

    The relatively wide interior of Mendut temple has three statues of Buddha. Facing the door is Buddha Sakyamuni, or the teaching Buddha. Buddha is depicted sitting with hands in dharmacakramudra or teaching position.

    To the right is the statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteswara or the helping Buddha. Buddha is depicted sitting with left leg bended and right leg hanging down. His right foot steps on a small lotus pad. To the left and facing north is the statue of Maitreya, or liberating Bodhisattva who is sitting with hands in simhakarnamudra position, which looks like vitarkamudra position except that the fingers are clasped. The head of each statue emanates prabha or divine rays of light.

    Source: candi.pnri.go.id

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    Aug 2011
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