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The constructional geometry of early Hindu Javanese temples
conference contributionposted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by D Beynon, Sambit Datta
The early development of Hindu Javanese architecture can be traced through interpretation of epigraphs, archaeological excavations, and comparison of extant temples with other traditions. However, while many scholars have speculated on connections between Javanese Hindu temples and presumed antecedents in India, these have been made on the basis of visual comparison and epigraphic interpretations. No Indian temple has been conclusively shown to be a model for the earliest Javanese temples. Archaeologist and temple historian Michael Meister has shown in his analysis of the geometric composition of early Hindu temples in South Asia how a ritual sixty-four square mandala was the geometric basis of temple construction during the formative period (fifth to eighth century) of the Indian architectural tradition. Working from an understanding of temple construction sequence as well as their ritual underpinnings, Meister found that the sixtyfour square mandala's dimensions correlate closely to the constructed dimensions at the level of the vedibandha (which corresponds with the plan level of the sanctuary threshold). Furthermore, he shows how the horizontal profile of the cella depends on the number of offsets and the proportional relationships between ech offset based on the subdivision of the sixty-four square grid. The authors have investigated whether a similar compositional basis can be found for the earliest Javanese temples on the Dieng Plateau in the highlands of central Java, despite differences in architectonic and symbolic expression. The analysis of relationships between ritual geometry and actual temple layouts for these buildings has the potential to furthering our understanding of the connections between Hindu temples in Java and those in India.