Pura Saab (Astiti/Dariusman, 2005)

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 Sa(h)ab Temple by Godi Dijkman, including additional comments in square brackets.

Pura Puser Saab

This temple is part of the 'Sad Kayangan' temples [everyone can pray there], in the settlement of Dahan, Batumadeg, astronomically situated at 8° 44' 53" South and 115° 31' 24" Longitude, at an elevation of 305m 'dpal'. It contains the largest collection of unique objects compared to other temples. Statues encountered here are those representing (the embodiment of) Bhatara/Bhatari; 13 of them are whole and undamaged and 18 fragmented statues. A number of statue fragments consist of body parts, heads and adornments, which are worn to the extent that they can no longer be identified.

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Images left (19-20). Main inner gate to Pura Puser Saab, settlement of Dahan, Batumadeg; Padmasana located in the inner court, on the left side, of Pura Puser Saab

Surroundings of Pura Puser Saab

The vegetation around Pura Puser Saab is varied and the soil is fertile; the layer of humus is black and thick. In front of the temple various banana trees have been planted, as well as coconut trees and flowering plants for use in ceremonies. To the left, right and east of the temple is a thick forest with large trees and underbrush. There are various types of bamboo trees, rattan, ferns [Pteridophyta], Bead tree or Blue Fig [Elaeocarpus angustifolius, Genitri], Rosewood [Dysoxylum densiflorum; Majegau], Pohon Bunda or Bayur [Pterospermum javanicum], Tajimas, Singapore shrub [Lantana camara, Singapura] Candlenut tree [Aleurites moluccana, Kemiri] and so forth.

The forest around this temple has achieved the status of protected forest (kawasan hutan lindung). Apart from the protected plants, all animals here are also protected, especially certain bird species. The population living in the vicinity of this temple do not dare, and are not allowed, to catch animals or take away tree parts for private use. All cultivated plants and animals can only be used for ceremonial offerings. The grounds of the temple together with its vegetation and its cultivation are in the hands of the temple. Trees used for ceremonial purposes are, amongst others, Rosewood. Its fragrant trunk is used for incense or as a means to give fragrance to sacred water, and is used for pelinggih construction, masks (pererai), etc.

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Images above (21, 40): Ancient statues like this one of Ganesya and other statues at Pura Puser Saab; Vegetation around Pura Puser Saab, consisting of various lush trees

The fruits of the Bead tree or Blue fig [Elaeocarpus angustifolius, Genitri] can be used to make rosaries (tasbih) generally used by priests, both in India and Indonesia as they are of round and symmetric form; holes are easily made in it and it is very hard.

Man has no hand in the propagation of these plants. Propagation is usually done by birds by eating fruits and dispersing them in their droppings. Apart from the plants living in this protected forest, there is a tree held sacred by the local population of several hundreds years of age. At the base of this tree there is an ever-flowing waterhole. This tree has been given the name of 'Kara Taranajaya'. It is located at some 100m to the east of the temple. Near this tree worshipping rituals are held, especially those connected with protection (medicines), because this tree is held sacred and a large part of this tree buttressed by the mother tree is used in traditional medicine. Therefore, below this tree a pelinggih was constructed called Pura Gede Dalem Serimpit. The trees in the direct vicinity of 'Kayu Terunajaya' can almost all of them be used for medicinal purposes (rheumatism, inflictions connected to the eyes, warding off of evil spirits (penolak bala) etc. and for use in the temple.

Trees in the direct vicinity of this tree: 1. The mother tree 'Kayu Kacu' or 'Taru Kacu' which gives shade; 2.'Taru Bunut Kau' [Ficus ssp.], different from the Bunut used for cattle fodder, as its leaves are hairy and thorny; 3. 'Kayu Bun', various kinds of this Kayu Bun 'melilit tanaman kayu yang satu dan lainnya'; 4. The trunk of the 'Tara Talok', is used for the construction of the temple; 5. Rosewood (Tara Majegau) is used for the pelinggih or masks; 6. Pterospermum javanicum (Tara Bayur) is used for ceremonial purposes; 7. Tolak-tolak leaves, besides its use to ward off evil spirits (penolak), its leaves are used for ceremonial offerings; 8. the leaves of the Tebil-tebil or Bungkak-bungkak are used for offerings and medicines; 9. Furthermore, Kayu Taje, Buni (Antidesma bunius), Bengkel, Tapis-Tapis, Kayu Suren (Toona sureni, Blume), Kayu Angih (Azadirachta indica) and various other trees/plants, which cannot be mentioned individually here, can all be used for ceremonies and medicinal purposes.

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Image left (41-42): Vegetation to the east of Pura Puser Saab within the temple grounds: a large tree named 'Kara Tarunajaya', several hundreds years of age. In the direct vicinity of this tree, many medicinal plants are found.







Morphology & lithology

The landscape around Pura Puser Saab is generally hilly. However, the temple grounds lie within a protected forest. It is a highland amidst hilly terrain. The lithology of this area: limestone with limestone boulders. The statues at the temple are partly made of limestone and partly of sandstone (e.g. the ancient statue of Ganesya).

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Images above: Bayur tree, Pterospermum javanicum (wikipedia)



  • 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

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