Dieng temples is the group of 7th century Hindu temple compound located in Dieng Plateau, near Wonosobo, Central Java, Indonesia. These edifices originate from the Kalingga Kingdom. The plateau is home of eight small Hindu temples that are among the oldest surviving religious structure ever built in Java.
The real name of the temple, the history and the king responsible for the construction of these temples were unknown. This is because the scarcity of data and inscription connected to the construction of these temples. Local Javanese population named each temples according to Javanese wayang characters, mostly taken from Mahabharata epic.
It is unclear when they were built, and were estimated to range from mid 7th century to end of 8th century CE; they are the oldest known standing stone structures in Central Java. They are originally thought to have numbered 400 but only eight remain.
Examining the Javanese temple architectural styles, archaeologist grouped the Dieng temples within the Northern Central Javanese style, together with Gedong Songo temples, and to some extents also includes the East Javanese Badut temple, and West Javanese Cangkuang and Bojongmenje temple, and suggested that all of these temples are built within the same period, ranges from 7th to 8th century. An inscription discovered near Arjuna temple in Dieng was dated circa 808-809 CE, it was the oldest surviving specimen of old Javanese script, which revealed that the Dieng temple is continuously inhabited from mid 7th to early 9th century.
The Dieng temples was rediscovered in 1814 by a visiting British soldier that spotted temples ruin lies in the middle of a lake. At that time the plain surrounding Arjuna cluster was flooded with water and forming small lake. In 1856, Isidore van Kinsbergen led an effort to drain the lake in order to reveal the temples. The Dutch East Indies Government continued the reconstruction project in 1864, followed by further study and photographs taken by Van Kinsbergen. The temples are now believed to have been named after the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
The North Central Javanese temple architecture is noted for its smaller size, simplicity and relatively lack of ornaments compared to richly decorated and massive temples of Southern Central Java, such as Kalasan, Sewu, and Prambanan. The temples of North Central Java are grouped in irregular clusters, with individual variations of temples styles. This is in contrast to concentric mandala plan of Southern Central Java temples with uniform design of perwara (ancillary) temples.
The earliest architectural usage of the Javanese kala demonic masks and makara marine monsters are exhibited along the niches and doorways of the remaining structures.
The Dieng structures were small and relatively plain, but stone architecture developed substantially in only a matter of decades resulting in masterpieces such as the Prambanan complex and Borobudur.
source : wikipedia.org
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