In 2005, Ni Komang Astiti & Dariusman Abdillah published an article on the temples of Nusa Penida in connection to their natural surroundings. For the entire Indonesian article, please click here. Below you'll find the English translation on Maos Temple by Godi Dijkman, including additional comments in square brackets.
Pura Merajan/Sanggah Moas
'This temple is located near the settlement of Bayuh, Banjar Maos, Kutampi, astronomically situated at 8° 42' 50" South and 115° 33' 05" Longitude, at an elevation of approximately 280m 'dpal'.
At Pura Merajan Maos copper plate inscriptions were found, currently stored in the storage building (gedong penyimpanan) the key to which is in possession of Nyoman Jaya. These copper inscriptions (prasasti) are in the hands of and worshipped by 'pengemong gria', and contain notifications (pengeling-ngeling) on 'proof' of Pura Maos/Merajan, stating the area's boundaries. The inscriptions date back to 1815 Saka [1893 AD], but as of one of the copper plates is written in Dewa Nagari script, there are indications that the inscriptions are a copy of copper plates written in the same script. This copy was then given to the people as they were needed by Cokorda I Dewa Agung at Puri Kaleran, Klungkung. Two of the three thin copper plates (prasasti tembaga wasa) are inscribed on both sides, and the third plate is only inscribed at one side, and on the back of the third the writings are continued in Dewa Nagari script. At the moment of this research, the copper plates are stored at the house of the 'pengemong pura' for safeguarding.
Apart from the copper plates found here, there was also a menhir made of coralline limestone. This menhir stands, to be precise, underneath a large tree several hundreds years of age. Nowadays, this place is often used for worshipping ceremonies primarily connected to fertility (beseeching rain during the protracted dry season) using various offerings (sesajen).'
Image 7 & 8 above: Pura Merajan at Desa Bayuh, Banjar Maos, Kutampi & Menhir within Pura Merajan grounds, Dusun Banjar Maos, Kutampi
Surroundings of Pura Merajan Maos
'At Pura Merajan there is also a Taos tree of several hundreds years of age, possibly as old as the statue, as the population saw this tree when it was already quite large. The menhir is located precisely underneath this Taos tree. There is an ever-flowing water well used to extract holy water for ceremonies. Besides the Taos tree, there are other large trees, for instance Kapuk trees, Kuang trees, Acacias, Buu trees [ficus spp.] and lots of underbrush. The trees within the direct surroundings of the temple can only be used for rituals connected to the temple: building material, to make masks (perarai) etc. The Taos tree, at one stage, was about to be felled, but this plan failed so it was left to grow old. Presently, during ceremonies (upacara) this tree is used for worshipping rituals.'
Image 33 right: Taos tree at Pura Merajan, with the menhir below
The Taos tree, according to Heyne (1950: CCXIX & 712) could indicate the 'Taosit, Javanese - Acacia farnesiana WILLD.', also called Vachellia farnesiana or Acacia farnesiana, commonly known as Needle Brush, but this is uncertain. The Kuang tree remains as yet unidentified.
'The fields around the site are used as settlements and for agricultural purposes. Crops grown here generally consist of cassava as these fields are located on hilly terrain and the local residents have constructed terraces using limestone fragments, which they find whilst working the land. Nusa Penida farmers have worked the land in this fashion for many years, so generally agricultural fields show a terraced structure al over the island. In order to get their daily rations of water, the people in Pulau Nusa Penida have constructed water catchment systems.'
Morphology & lithology
'The morphology of the surroundings of this temple is hilly landscape with a lithology of limestone. The location of the temple is higher than the settlement in its direct surroundings. Simple material such as limestone was used for the foundations of Pura Merajan, as well as its walls and other sacred buildings. The menhir found in this temple also consists of coralline limestone. For the construction of the settlements and other (supporting) buildings such as rainwater catchment systems, limestone was also used, taken from the immediate surroundings, in the form of hunks/slabs of stone.'
Images above (34-37): Crops such as cassava planted in the vicinity of Pura Merajan, Kutampi in hilly landscape; Agricultural system in terraced structures found all over Nusa Penida. The material to construct them is taken from stone fragments found all over the land; A water catchment system constructed by the inhabitants of Kutampi; A 'bak' to store rainwater, no longer in use
- Heyne, Karel - De Nuttige Planten van Indonesië, Parts I (p.1-1450) and II (p.1451-1660 & list of scientific names p.I-CCXII), H.Veenman & zonen, Wageningen, 1950
- Astiti, Ni Komang Ayu - & Abdillah, Dariusman - Pemanfaatan Sumber Daya Alam untuk Mendukung Kegiatan Religi dari Manusia Prasejarah di Pulau Nusa Penida, Kabupaten Klungkung, Provinsi Bali, Laporan Penelitian Subbid. Laboratorium Artefak dan Ekofak, Bidang Arkeologi Sejarah dan Arkeometri; Jakarta 2005, 43pp.