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Architectural Styles of Temples in East-Java

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The Central-Javanese temple architecture is influenced mainly by the architecture of temples in India. Yet the Javanese, however, also developed a distinctive characteristic style of temple architecture. The basic model is a vertical construction building that consists of a foot, a central part in the middle and a roof (Kinney 2003:30). The central part contains a cellar, which, sometimes has multiple niches built within the cellar.

Candi Kidal

Beside the aforementioned basic model, there is yet another architectural style that is typical for East-Javanese temples. This particular style is applied at Candi Kidal and Candi Jawi. Temples like Candi Kidal and Candi Jawi as well as Candi Jago and the main temple at the Panataran complex, consist of multiple storeys and terraces; at the upper terrace of these temples there is a cellar in which statues are placed (Kinney 2003:31). The two different architectural styles of East-Javanese temples can both be seen combined together in the Panataran complex, where the Dated Temple (1369 AD) is based on the basic model whereas the main temple is based on the model with multiple storeys.

Architectural Styles of Temples in East-Java

Temples in Indonesia are often also interpreted as an replica of the sacred Mount Meru. This explains why the most sacred part of the temple is always facing direction of a mountain as is the case with temples in Bali, too. In this way, the temple supposed to function as a celestial seat for the gods (Bernet Kempers 1959:20-21). These features were first introduced in the East-Javanese Period, and later would lead to the development of new styles which adopted features of Central-Javanese architecture, like the statues of Śiva (in the form of the liṅgaṃ), Agastya, Gaṇeśa and Durgā (Kinney 2003:37 – 39).


Bernet Kempers, A.J, 1959: ‘Ancient Indonesian Art’. Amsterdam: Van der Peet.

Kinney, Ann & Klieven, Lydia, 2003: ‘Worshiping Siva and Buddha – The Temple Art of East-Java’. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

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