Wonderwall

Sunday PM, Oct. 2
I am psyched as heck to spend nine months checking out the city and surroundings, and have wasted no time in beginning. Today, the day after Bali bombings take 2, my new first friends in Jogja and I took off on the road to Solo, reportedly home to the densest concentration of Islamic fundamentalists on Java, stopping thirty kilometers from that town at one of two ancient wonders of the world within an hour of Jogja.

Built from the 8th to the 10th centuries, the Prambanan temple complex is the best remaining example of Java’s Hindu cultural development. In the 9th century AD, Java’s Buddhist South and Hindu North were united by marriage, and evidence of both faiths remains in these temples built for the Hindu trinity of Shiva (the destroyer), flanked by Brahma and Vishnu, (creator and preserver) and their transportion — swan, eagle, and elephant (?).. The complex was destroyed by earthquake in the 16th century, and, amazingly, has been largely reassembled over the last two hundred years.

The legend is far more interesting than the established history. Legend has it, loosely, that the princess to be married to unite Java wasn’t thrilled with her Southern suitor, and required that he build nine hundred temples to the Hindu deities in the night before the wedding, or she would have to deem him unworthy. He loved the princess, called on the Hindu gods to assist him, and lo and behold he was getting there. The rapid assembly scared the princess, and she called on everyone in her kingdom to light bonfires in the night as the prince and gods neared completion, thereby tricking all the roosters and chickens and other fowl into thinking morning had arrived. They made their morning noises, and scared off the Hindu supernaturals, and the princess was saved, at least temporarily. The pics should give you some sense of the prince’s amazing dedication to his unrequited love.

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