chapter  7
Cosmopolitan tastes and indigenous designs - virtual cloth in a Javanese candi
Pages 21

Thousands of volcanic stone structures, now referred to as candi, dot the landscape of Central Java. Built during the so-called Hindu-Buddhist period, candi were constructed under the direction of a priest-architect, and apparently functioned as religious structures under the patronage of political forces. During the eighth and ninth centuries this sacred architecture had reached an apex of aesthetic achievement. One of the largest jewels of Java’s stunning diadem of candi is Loro Jonggrang (Fig. 7.1) situated on the Prambanan plain, located just east of the modern city of Yogyakarta. This little-studied ninth-century site is considered by many scholars to be the counterpart to the largest Buddhist stupa in the world, the Borobudur. From the archaeological evidence, the Loro Jonggrang complex, the largest Hindu site of insular South-East Asia, is thought to have originally contained 240 structures within three courtyards. Of the 240 stone structures, the central grouping of sixteen candi has been painstakingly rebuilt, and at 47 metres, the chief temple of Loro Jonggrang, Candi Siwa (Fig. 7.2), towers over the others.1 At its very core, I argue, are bas-relief depictions of cloth, encoded with the very essence of the temple’s symbology.