Cover - Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

The Sukuh Temple and its surprising peculiarity

The slopes of the volcanic mountain of Lawu located in the area of Central Java represent the home for a large number of places with the great archeological importance which were constructed and built in the period between the 13th and the 15th century, during the reign of the Majapahit rulers. The Sukuh temple is definitely one of the most interesting of them because of the specific motifs embedded in the exterior of the building. Let’s learn more about it!

 

The Story of Sukuh Temple

 

Located almost one kilometer away from the plain area of Solo, Sukuh temple is referred to as one of the most important Javanese centers of Hinduism before the Hindu believers were converted into Muslims. This old temple that was discovered during the 19th century belongs to the group Javanese candis and it is undoubtedly one of the most interesting temples from this area. The monument has three terraces and the main pyramid is located on the highest of them while the believers had to enter the temple from the lowest terrace.

View from the western slope of Mount Lawu - Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia.pg

View from the western slope of Mount Lawu – Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia.pg

None of the others ancient temples of this kind had the same architectural form since none of them had portrayed or celebrated genitalia and sexual intercourse. The pyramid shape with two platforms and three terraces is said to represent a mountain, although there is no evidence for these statements.

At the entrance of the temple, you’ll be able to see a chronograph which represents a year in the Saka calendar, 1359, which is actually the year 1437 AD. This is probably a sign that this temple was built in this period, and active all the way until the end of the 15th century when the Majapahit Kingdom disappeared. Many archeologists and other scientists that have observed the temple during the history say that they believe that this temple was primarily a place where the purification rituals were performed, in order to make the evil forces and spirits go away from the disturbed people’s lives.

The center panel is a 'chronograph' - Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

The center panel is a ‘chronograph’ – Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

 

The Surprising Reliefs of the Sukuh Temple

The temple has the stunning cut pyramid shape decorated with the figures of the eagles and snakes, and this is one of the reasons why this monument has been related to the Mayan temples in South America – they look pretty similar.

Garuda and snake - Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

Garuda and snake – Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

There are some pretty interesting theses which support the theory of the connection between Mayan civilization and Candi Sukuh. One of them refers to the form of Sukuh Temple, which is way too simple when compared to the other temples of this kind in Indonesia, that have a really complex architecture.

The other reason that made the numerous experts doubt is the most obvious one – statues and carvings of Candi Sukuh don’t really resemble the statues and carvings from the other candis. Some of them are representing animals and people in danger, like birds in a tree or a monster eating a man, but the others are clearly implying different sexual activities, with various overwhelming reliefs, such as the statue of a man holding his penis. Some of the most interesting of them are more thoroughly presented below.

The "erotic temple" - Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

The “erotic temple” – Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

The Lingam and the Yoni, - Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

The Lingam and the Yoni, – Candi Sukuh, Central Java, Indonesia

Yoni and Lingam

This is the relief positioned at the entrance of the temple, which shows a penis and a vagina just before the penetration. In this case, the vagina represents yoni, which is the symbol of the Hindu Divine Mother, Shakti, while penis represents lingam, symbol of the Hindu deity, Shiva.

Ganesha and Blacksmiths

This large relief is located on the wall of the central monument. In the middle of the relief there is a statue of the creature with elephant’s head and human body – this is actually one of the most significant deities, Ganesha, who is said to eliminate all of the impediments of the believers, and in the relief, it is presented while holding an animal and dancing with the genitalia uncovered. On both sides of Ganesha, there is one blacksmith – Bhima and Arjuna, and they are presented while forging the weapon.