The Great Dictionary of the Indonesian Language of the Language Center defines a candi as an ancient stone building used for worship, or for storing the ashes of cremated Hindu or Buddhist kings and priests. Indonesian archaeologists describe candis as sacred structures of Hindu and Buddhist heritage, used for religious rituals and ceremonies in Indonesia. However, ancient secular structures such as gates, urban ruins, pools and bathing places are often called candi too, while a shrine that specifically serves as a tomb is called a cungkup.
In Hindu Balinese architecture, the term candi refers to a stone or brick structure of single-celled shrine with portico, entrance and stairs, topped with pyramidal roof and located within a pura. It is often modeled after East Javanese temples, and functions as a shrine to a certain deity. To the Balinese, a candi is not necessarily ancient, since candis continue to be (re-)built within these puras, such as the reconstructed temple in Alas Purwo, Banyuwangi.
In contemporary Indonesian Buddhist perspective, candi also refers to a shrine, either ancient or new. Several contemporary viharas in Indonesia for example, contain the actual-size replica or reconstruction of famous Buddhist temples, such as the replica of Pawon and Plaosan's perwara (small) temples. In Buddhism, the role of a candi as a shrine is sometimes interchangeable with a stupa, a domed structure to store Buddhist relics or the ashes of cremated Buddhist priests, patrons or benefactors. Borobudur, Muara Takus and Batujaya for example are actually elaborate stupas.
In modern Indonesian language, the term candi can be translated as "temple" or similar structure, especially of Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Thus temples of Cambodia (such as the Angkor Wat), Champa (Central and Southern Vietnam), Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and India are also called candi in Indonesian.
Candi refers to a structure based on the Indian type of single-celled shrine, with a pyramidal tower above it, and a portico. The term Candi is given as a prefix to the many temple-mountains in Indonesia, built as a representation of the Cosmic Mount Meru, an epitome of the universe. However, the term also applied to many non-religious structures dated from the same period, such as gapura (gates), petirtaan (pools) and some of habitation complexes. Examples of non-temple candis are the Bajang Ratu and Wringin Lawang gates of Majapahit. The "Candi Tikus bathing pool" in Trowulan and Jalatunda in Penanggungan slopes, as well as the remnants of non-religious habitation and urban structures such as Ratu Boko and some of Trowulan city ruins, are also considered candi.
In ancient Java, a temple was probably originally called prāsāda (Sanskrit: प्रासाद), as evidence in the Manjusrigrha inscription (dated from 792 CE), that mentioned "Prasada Vajrasana Manjusrigrha" to refer to the Sewu temple.:89 The term prasad itself refer to a sacred offering or a sacrament. This term is in par with Cambodian and Thai term prasat which refer to the towering structure of a temple.
From Hindu perspective, the term "candi" itself is believed was derived from Candika, one of the manifestations of the goddess Durga as the goddess of death. This suggests that in ancient Indonesia the "candi" had mortuary functions as well as connections with the afterlife. The association of the name "candi", candika or durga with Hindu-Buddhist temples is unknown in India and other parts of Southeast Asia outside of Indonesia, such as Cambodia, Thailand, or Burma.
Another theory from Buddhist perspective, suggested that the term "candi" might be a localized form of the Pali word cedi (Sanskrit: caitya) — which related to Thai word chedi which refer to a stupa, or it might be related to the bodhisattva Candī (also known as Cundī or Candā).
Historians suggest that the temples of ancient Java were also used to store the ashes of cremated deceased kings or royalty. This is in line with Buddhist concept of stupas as structures to store Buddhist relics, including the ashes and remains of holy Buddhist priests or the Buddhist king, patrons of Buddhism. The statue of god stored inside the garbhagriha (main chamber) of the temple is often modeled after the deceased king and considered to be the deified person of the king portrayed as Vishnu or Shiva according to the concept of devaraja. The example is the statue of king Airlangga from Belahan temple portrayed as Vishnu riding Garuda.
The candi architecture follows the typical Hindu architecture traditions based on Vastu Shastra. The temple layout, especially in central Java period, incorporated mandala temple plan arrangements and also the typical high towering spires of Hindu temples. The candi was designed to mimic Meru, the holy mountain the abode of gods. The whole temple is a model of Hindu universe according to Hindu cosmology and the layers of Loka.
The candi structure and layout recognize the hierarchy of the zones, spanned from the less holy to the holiest realms. The Indic tradition of Hindu-Buddhist architecture recognize the concept of arranging elements in three parts or three elements. Subsequently, the design, plan and layout of the temple follows the rule of space allocation within three elements; commonly identified as foot (base), body (center), and head (roof). The three zones is arranged according to a sacred hierarchy. Each Hindu and Buddhist concepts has their own terms, but the concept's essentials is identical. Either the compound site plan (horizontally) or the temple structure (vertically) consists of three zones:
Soekmono, an Indonesian archaeologist, has classified the candi styles into two main groups: a central Java style, which predominantly date from before 1,000 CE, and an eastern Java style, which date from after 1,000 CE. He groups the temples of Sumatra and Bali into the eastern Java style.
|Parts of the temple||Central Java Style||Eastern Java Style|
|Shape of the structure||Tends to be bulky||Tends to be slender and tall|
|Roof||Clearly shows stepped roof sections, usually consist of 3 parts||The multiple parts of stepped sections formed a combined roof structure smoothly|
|Pinnacle||Stupa (Buddhist temples), Ratna or Vajra (Hindu temples)||Cube (mostly Hindu temples), sometimes Dagoba cylindrical structures (Buddhist temples)|
|Portal and niches adornment||Kala-Makara style; Kala head without lower jaw opening its mouth located on top of the portal, connected with double Makara on each side of the portal||Only Kala head sneering with the mouth complete with lower jaw located on top of the portal, Makara is absent|
|Relief||Projected rather high from the background, the images was done in naturalistic style||Projected rather flat from the background, the images was done in stylized style similar to Balinese wayang image|
|Layout and location of the main temple||Concentric mandala, symmetric, formal; with main temple located in the center of the complex surrounded by smaller perwara temples in regular rows||Linear, asymmetric, followed topography of the site; with main temple located in the back or furthermost from the entrance, often located in the highest ground of the complex, perwara temples is located in front of the main temple|
|Direction||Mostly faced east||Mostly faced west|
|Materials||Mostly andesite stone||Mostly red brick|
There are material, form, and location exceptions to these general design traits. While the Penataran, Jawi, Jago, Kidal and Singhasari temples, for example, belong to the eastern Java group, they use andesite stone similar to the central Java temple material. Temple ruins in Trowulan, such as Brahu, Jabung and Pari temples use red brick. Also the Prambanan temple is tall and slender similar to the east Java style, yet the roof design is central Javan in style. The location also do not always correlate with the temple styles, for example Candi Badut is located in Malang, East Java, yet the period and style belongs to older 8th century central Javanese style.
The earlier northern central Java complexes, such as the Dieng temples, are smaller and contain only several temples which exhibit simpler carving, whereas the later southern complexes, such as Sewu temple, are grander, with a richer elaboration of carving, and concentric layout of the temple complex.
The Majapahit period saw the revival of Austronesian megalithic design elements, such stepped pyramids (punden berundak). These design cues are seen in the Sukuh and Cetho temples in Mount Lawu in eastern Central Java, and in stepped sanctuary structures on the Mount Penanggungan slopes that are similar to meso-American stepped pyramids.
Most of well-preserved candi in Indonesia are made from andesite stone. This is mainly owed to the stone's durability, compared to bricks, against tropical weathers and torrential rains. Nevertheless, certain periods, especially the Majapahit era, saw the extensive use of red brick as temple and building materials. The materials commonly used in temple construction in Indonesia are:
The candis of ancient Java are notable with the application of kala-makara as both decorative and symbolic elements of the temple architecture. Kala is the giant symbolizing time, by making kala's head as temple portals element, it symbolizes that time consumes everything. Kala is also a protective figure, with fierce giant face it scares away malevolent spirits. Makara is a mythical sea monster, the vahana of sea-god Varuna. It has been depicted typically as half mammal and half fish. In many temples the depiction is in the form of half fish or seal with the head of an elephant. It is also shown with head and jaws of a crocodile, an elephant trunk, the tusks and ears of a wild boar, the darting eyes of a monkey, the scales and the flexible body of a fish, and the swirling tailing feathers of a peacock. Both kala and makara are applied as the protective figures of the temple's entrance.
Kala is the giant head, often takes place on top of the entrance with makaras projected on either sides of kala's head, flanking the portal or projecting on the top corner as antefixes. The kala-makara theme also can be found on stair railings on either sides. On the upper part of stairs, the mouth of kala's head projecting makara downward. The intricate stone carving of twin makaras flanking the lower level of stairs, with its curved bodies forming the stair's railings. Other than makaras, kala's head might also project its tongue as stair's railings. These types of stair-decorations can be observed in Borobudur and Prambanan. Makara's trunks are often describes as handling gold ornaments or spouting jewels, while in its mouth often projected Gana dwarf figures or animals such as lions or parrots.
In ancient Javanese candi, the linga-yoni symbolism was only found in Hindu temples, more precisely those of Shivaist faith. Therefore, they are absent in Buddhist temples. The linga is a phallic post or cylinder symbolic of the god Shiva and of creative power. Some lingas are segmented into three parts: a square base symbolic of Brahma, an octagonal middle section symbolic of Vishnu, and a round tip symbolic of Shiva. The lingas that survive from the Javanese classical period are generally made of polished stone of this shape.
Lingas are implanted in a flat square base with a hole in it, called a yoni, symbolic of the womb and also represents Parvati, Shiva's consort. A yoni usually has a kind of spout, usually decorated with nāga, to help channeled and collects the liquids poured upon linga-yoni during Hindu ritual. As a religious symbol, the function of the linga is primarily that of worship and ritual. Oldest remains of linga-yoni can be found in Dieng temples from earlier period circa 7th century. Originally each temples might have a complete pair of linga-yoni unity. However, most of the times, the linga is missing.
In the tradition of Javanese kingship, certain lingas were erected as symbols of the king himself or his dynasty, and were housed in royal temples in order to express the king's consubstantiality with Shiva. The example is the linga-yoni of Gunung Wukir temple, according to Canggal inscription is connected to King Sanjaya from the Mataram Kingdom, in 654 Saka (732 CE). Other temples that contains complete linga-yoni include Sambisari and Ijo temples. Eastern Javanese temples that contains linga-yoni are Panataran and Jawi temple, although the linga is missing.
The walls of candi often displayed bas-reliefs, either serves as decorative elements as well as to convey religious symbolic meanings; through describing narrative bas-reliefs. The most exquisite of the temple bas-reliefs can be found in Borobudur and Prambanan temples. The first four terrace of Borobudur walls are showcases for bas-relief sculptures. These are exquisite, considered to be the most elegant and graceful in the ancient Buddhist world. The Buddhist scriptures describes as bas-reliefs in Borobudur such as Karmavibhangga (the law of karma), Lalitavistara (the birth of Buddha), Jataka, Avadana and Gandavyuha. While in Prambanan the Hindu scriptures is describes in its bas-relief panels; the Ramayana and Bhagavata Purana (popularly known as Krishnayana).
The bas-reliefs in Borobudur depicted many scenes of daily life in 8th-century ancient Java, from the courtly palace life, hermit in the forest, to those of commoners in the village. It also depicted temple, marketplace, various flora and fauna, and also native vernacular architecture. People depicted here are the images of king, queen, princes, noblemen, courtier, soldier, servant, commoners, priest and hermit. The reliefs also depicted mythical spiritual beings in Buddhist beliefs such as asuras, gods, boddhisattvas, kinnaras, gandharvas and apsaras. The images depicted on bas-relief often served as reference for historians to research for certain subjects, such as the study of architecture, weaponry, economy, fashion, and also mode of transportation of 8th-century Maritime Southeast Asia. One of the famous renderings of an 8th-century Southeast Asian double outrigger ship is Borobudur Ship.
There are significant distinction of bas-reliefs' style and aesthetics between the Central Javanese period (prior of 1000 CE) and East Javanese period (after 1000 CE). The earlier Central Javanese style, as observable in Borobudur and Prambanan, are more exquisite and naturalistic in style. The reliefs is projected rather high from the background, the images was done in naturalistic style with proper ideal body proportion. On the other hand, the bas-reliefs of Eastern Javanese style is projected rather flat from the background, the images was done in stiffer pose and stylized style, similar to currently Balinese wayang images. The East Javanese style is currently preserved in Balinese art, style and aesthetics in temple bas-reliefs, also wayang shadow puppet imagery, as well as the Kamasan painting.
The images of coupled Kinnara and Kinnari can be found in Borobudur, Mendut, Pawon, Sewu, Sari, and Prambanan temples. Usually, they are depicted as birds with human heads, or humans with lower limbs of birds. The pair of Kinnara and Kinnari usually is depicted guarding Kalpataru (Kalpavriksha), the tree of life, and sometimes guarding a jar of treasure. There are bas-relief in Borobudur depicting the story of the famous kinnari, Manohara.
The lower outer wall of Prambanan temples were adorned with row of small niche containing image of simha (lion) flanked by two panels depicting bountiful kalpataru (kalpavriksha) tree. These wish-fulfilling sacred trees according to Hindu-Buddhist beliefs, is flanked on either side by kinnaras or animals, such as pairs of birds, deer, sheep, monkeys, horses, elephants etc. The pattern of lion in niche flanked by kalpataru trees is typical in Prambanan temple compound, thus it is called as "Prambanan panel".
In Buddhist temples, the panels of bas-reliefs usually adorned with exquisite images of male figure of Bodhisattvas and female figure of Taras, along with Gandarvas heavenly musicians, and sometimes the flock of Gana dwarfs. These are the deities and divinities in Buddhist beliefs, which resides in the Tushita heaven in Buddhism cosmology. The notable images of boddhisattvas could be found adorning outer walls of Plaosan, Sari, Kalasan, Pawon and of course Borobudur temple.
In Hindu temples, the celestial couple; male Devatas and female Apsaras are usually found adorns the panels of temple's walls. They are the Hindu counterpart of Buddhist Bodhisattva-Tara celestial beings. On the other side of narrative panels in Prambanan, the temple wall along the gallery were adorned with the statues and reliefs of devatas and brahmin sages. The figure of lokapalas, the celestial guardians of directions can be found in Shiva temple. The Brahmin sage editors of veda were carved on Brahma temple wall, while in Vishnu temple the figures of a male deities devatas flanked by two apsaras. The depiction of celestial beings of lesser gods and goddesses — devatas and apsaras, describes the Hindu concept of sacred realm of Svargaloka. This is corresponds to the concept of the towering Hindu temple as the epitome of Mount Meru in Hindu cosmology.
Most of larger temple compound in ancient Java were guarded by a pair of Dvarapala statues, as gate guardians. The twin giants usually placed flanked the entrance in front of the temple, or in four cardinal points. Dvarapala took form of two fierce giants or demons that ward off evil and malevolent spirits from entering the sacred temple compounds. In Central Javanese art, Dvarapala is mostly portrayed as a stout and rather chubby giant, with fierce face of glaring round goggle eyes, protruding fangs, curly hairs and moustaches, with fat and round belly. The giant usually depicted as holding gada and sometimes knives as weapon.
In East Javanese art and Balinese version however, the dvarapala usually depicted rather slender, with the exception of gigantic dvarapala of Singhasari near Malang, East Java that measures 3.7 metres tall. The most notable dvarapala statues are those of candi Sewu, each pair guarding four cardinal points of the grand temple complex, making them a total eight large dvarapala statues in perfect condition. The dvarapalas of Sewu temple has become the prototype of Gupolo guardian in later Javanese art, copied as guardians in Javanese keratons of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. Another fine example is two pairs of dvarapala guarding the twin temples of Plaosan.
The statues of a pair of lions (Sanskrit: Siṁha, Indonesian and Javanese: Singa) flanking the portal, are often placed as the guardians of candi entrance. Lions were never native to Southeast Asia in recorded history. As the result, the depiction of lions in ancient Southeast Asian art, especially in ancient Java and Cambodia, is far from the naturalistic style as depicted in Greek or Persian art counterparts, since the depictions were all based on perception and imagination. The cultural depictions and the reverence of lions as the noble and powerful beasts in Southeast Asia was influenced by Indian culture especially through Buddhist symbolism.
Statues of a pair of lions often founds in temples in Southeast Asia as the gate guardians. In Borobudur Buddhist monument Central Java, Indonesia, andesite stone statues of lions guard four main entrances of Borobudur. The thrones of Buddha and Boddhisattva found in Kalasan and Mendut Buddhist temples of ancient Java depicted elephants, lions, and makara. The statue of winged lion also found in Penataran temple East Java.
The religions dedicated in the temples of ancient Java can be easily distinguished mainly from its pinnacles on top of the roof. Bell-shaped stupa can be found on the Buddhist temples' roof, while ratna, the pinnacle ornaments symbolize gem, mostly founds in Hindu temples.
The typical stupas in Javanese classical temple architecture is best described as those of Borobudur style; the bell-shaped stupa. The stupa in Borobudur upper round terrace of Arupadhatu consist of round lotus pedestal, gently sloped bell-shaped dome, rectangular shape on top of the dome serves as the base of hexagonal pinnacle.
Each stupa is pierced by numerous decorative openings, either in the shape of rectangular or rhombus. Statues of the Buddha sit inside the pierced stupa enclosures. Borobudur was first thought more likely to have served as a stupa, instead of a temple. A stupa is intended as a shrine for the Buddha. Sometimes stupas were built only as devotional symbols of Buddhism. A temple, on the other hand, is used as a house of worship.
Ratna pinnacle took form of a curved obtuse pyramidal shape or sometimes cylindrical, completed with several base structure or pedestals took form as some ornamental seams (Javanese:pelipit). It can be found as the pinnacle of both Hindu and Buddhist temples. Nevertheless, it is most prevalent in Hindu temples. The example of temple with ratna pinnacle is Sambisari and Ijo temple. In Prambanan, the stylized vajra replaced ratna as the temple's pinnacles. In later periods, the false lingga-yoni, or cube can be found in Hindu temple's roof, while cylindrical dagoba on top of Buddhist counterparts.
The high concentration of candi can be found especially dense in Sleman Regency in Yogyakarta, also Magelang and Klaten in Central Java; which corresponds to the historical region of Kedu Plain (Progo River valley, Temanggung-Magelang-Muntilan area) and Kewu Plain (Opak River valley, around Prambanan), the cradle of Javanese civilization. Other important sites with notable temple compounds includes Malang, Blitar and Trowulan areas in East Java. West Java also contains a small number of temples such as Batujaya and Cangkuang. Outside of Java, the candi type of temple can be found in Bali, Sumatra, and Southern Kalimantan, although they are quite scarce. In Sumatra, two exceptional sites are notable for its temple density; the Muaro Jambi Temple Compounds in Jambi and Padang Lawas or Bahal complex in North Sumatra.
The candis might be built on plain or uneven terrain. Prambanan and Sewu temples for example, are built on even flat low-lying terrain, while the temples of Gedong Songo and Ijo are built on hill terraces on higher grounds or mountain slopes. Borobudur on the other hand is built upon a bedrock hill. The position, orientation and spatial organization of the temples within the landscape, and also their architectural designs, were determined by socio-cultural, religious and economic factors of the people, polity or the civilization that built and support them.
The Hindu temple compound located in Dieng Plateau, near Wonosobo, Central Java. Eight small Hindu temples from the 7th and 8th centuries, the oldest in Central Java. Surrounded by craters of boiling mud, colored lakes, caves, sulphur outlets, hot water sources and underground channels. The temples are:
South-west of Semarang, Central Java. Five temples constructed in 8th and 9th centuries. The site highlights how, in Hinduism, location of temples was as important as the structures themselves. The site has panoramas of three volcanoes and Dieng Plateau.
East of Yogyakarta, Central Java.
Near Surakarta, Central Java.
Malang, East Java.
Borobudur the largest Buddhist monument in the world
Mendut temple near Borobudur
Pawon temple between Borobudur and Mendut
Prambanan, the largest Hindu Temple in Indonesia
Kalasan temple near Prambanan
Candi Pari, Porong, Sidoarjo