Pura Saab Statues (Sugitawan, 2003)

Resud Sugitawan describes the four human-divine statues and a number of other ones, found at Saab Temple, Nusa Penida, in a thesis of some 100 pages. He estimates these statues date back to the Middle (Classic) Era, 13th-14th Century, and argues that the reasons for this are not only their characteristics, but also the material they are made from: batu padas. The origins of the statues, given the present subdivision of Pura Saab, is not clear. Summarised translation by Godi Dijkman, including additional comments in square brackets.

'Bhatara-bhatari' statues at Pura Saab, Nusa Penida

The entire Hindu population in Nusa Penida, regardless of social status or occupation, worships Pura Saab, and therefore this temple is referred to as the General or Earth Temple (Pura Umum / Khayangan Jagat). The Pengemong / Penyungsung responsible for the piodalan and the general upkeep of this temple is in the hands of the villages of Batukandik, Batumadeg and Klumpu, consisting of 350 heads of family. The Piodalan of Pura Saab falls on Wednesday Rabu Umanis Medangsia. On this day, people from all over Nusa Penida come and bring offerings to the temple. Usually, the festivities last for three days involving a series of ceremonies and at the most important day of the piodalan festivities the statues of Pura Saab are taken out, festooned and given offerings (sesaji/banten).

Stutterheim (1929) mentions the following periods in ancient Balinese history: a. Hindu Balinese Period (8th-9th Century), amongst which the Aksyoba statue (Kutri) as this statue has open eyes like other Buddha statues; b. Old Balinese Period (9th-13th Century): consisting of three groups: Gunung Kawi, Kutri and Penulisan; c. Middle Balinese Period (13th-14th Century): the form of the statues is seen to develop fast, as well as deified statues, which have spread all over Bali.

Descriptions of Pura Saab statues

sugitawan statue1 drawingsugitawan statue1 image

Bhatara (sketch & image 1): This statue is kept at the side of a pelinggih called 'Pengaruman' (balé), directed towards the east, with a roof made of corrugated iron sheets, made of limestone and wood. The statue is made of hard 'batu padas' (rock or of hardened soil), carved in a upright position on a square base (asana) with a double lotus pattern and it rests on a stele with parallel sides and flat top. The arms are bent upwards on both sides of the waist, hands clenched in fists, each hand carrying a round ornamental object (bulatan hiasan) in the form of a flower. The total statue measures 48 cm: statue H 42 cm, W 16 cm, D 14 cm; H stele 42 cm, W stele 16 cm, D stele 5 cm; Padmasana: H 7 cm, L 12 cm. The stele is rectangular with parallel sides and a flat top, but the side is somewhat withered. The base (asana/lapik) takes the form of a square 'padmaganda'; The statue has a large head, hair on the rear reaches the stele It has a somewhat rounded face, straight forehead, thin eyebrows, small nose, puffed-up (tembem) cheeks, small/this lips, normal chest, large waist, large hips, normal hands, short legs, large toes. The crown takes the form of a 'kirita makuta' with round lotus flower sheaths (kelopak bunga padma) on top, the necklace (hara) adorned with flower spirals (pola sulur) like an ornament worn on the neck by dancers (badong). The statue carries two arm bracelets (keyura) with a triangular 'simbar' (plant) motif, and the hand bracelets (kankana) are three-layered and smooth. The belly strap (udara banda) comes in the form of ornamental simbar flower shoots (sulur simbar), and in the middle there are straight ornaments attached to both sides of the waist. The sash or traditional long scarf worn by dancers (uncal) is striped. A loin cloth (kancut) is a broad ribbon (pita), which extends towards the base of the statue with a vertical adornment and a seam (belahan) at the bottom. Anklets (padangada) are not present. Undergarments (antarya) extend to the ankles with striped three-layered ornaments.

sugitawan statue2 imagesugitawan statue2 drawing

(p.52) Bhatari (sketch & image 2): This statue is placed in the same place as the ones above, i.e. in a Pengaruman. The statue is made of hard 'batu padas', and is carved in an upright position called 'samabhahangga' [?], with double square base (asana berbetuk segi empat pola ganda). The statue at the back is attached to a rectangular stele in the form of a double square padmasana with parallel sides, the top of which is somewhat curved and the part of the right side is broken. The right arm is stretched out to the front [from the elbow], palm facing upwards, holding a rounded flower-like object, the left arm is broken below the elbow. The statue measures a total of 55 cm, the statue alone (without the base) is 45 cm, W 25 cm, D 20 cm; the stele is L 45 cm, W 20 cm, D 4 cm, whilst the padamasana is L 10 cm, and H 19 cm [no depth given]. The stele is a rectangle with parallel sides, straight top and somewhat curved. The upper part, however, is broken. The base (asana) is a smooth square. The statue has a large head, its hair gets wider at the back and reaches the stele down to the shoulders, oval face, broad brow, thin eyebrows, normal nose, puffed-up cheeks, closed lips, large ears, normal shoulders, chest sticks out to the front, two large breasts. A part of the left breast is missing, small belly (disfigured?), rather small waist, normal hips, large hands with large fingers. The statue has normal legs/feet with rather large toes and soles. The left front part of the head, including the eyes, is missing. The crown of the statue comes in the form of a kirita makuta adorned with rounded objects resembling lotus flower sheaths (kelopak bunga padma), which become progressively smaller towards the top. The left part of the head is missing. Earrings (kundala) take the form of long leaves with pointed ends dropping down to the shoulders. The necklace (hara) adorned with leaf spirals (pola sulur) like an ornament worn on the neck by dancers (badong) is decorated with golden-like motifs. The bracelets (keyura) come in the form of a ribbon with striped, round motifs, whilst the outside has a simbar flower and golden-like motifs. The hand bracelets (kankana) are three-layered and smooth without decorations. The belly strap (udara banda) is a striped ribbon without decorations. The multiple sashes (sampur) are attached to the left and right side of the statue and fall down to the knees where they become one; striped pattern. The loin cloth (kancut) is a straight ribbon from the waist down to the soles of the feet, striped decorations at the bottom, as if they were folded. The three-layered undergarments (antarya) extend to the ankles.

sugitawan statue3 imagesugitawan statue3 drawing

Bhatara (sketch & image 3): This statue is placed in the same place as the one above, i.e. in an Angunan or Pengaruman (pelinggih) made of limestone and wood with a roof made of corrugated iron sheets, directed towards the east. The statue is made of hard 'batu padas', and is carved in an upright position on the base of a square double padmasana, on a stele with parallel sides with a flat top. The hands are held out to the front of the belly holding rounded objects in the form of flowers. The total statue measures 49 cm: statue H 43 cm, W 9 cm, D 8 cm; H stele 42 cm, W stele 12 cm, D stele 5 cm, whereas the Padmasana measures H 7 cm, L 12 cm. The stele is oblong with parallel sides with a flat top. The base (lapik) of the statue takes the form of a square 'padmasana pola ganda', both the left side of the stele and padmasana are damaged. The statue has a large head, puffed-up (tembem) face, straight brow, thin eyebrows, small chin, flat cheeks, small thin lips, closed mouth, small ears, straight shoulders, forward-bulging chest (busung ke depan), small belly, normal waist, small hips, normal hands, short legs/feet, large toes. The crown takes the form of a 'kirita makuta' with round lotus flower sheaths (kelopak bunga padma) on top, necklace (hara) adorned with flower spirals (pola sulur), the middle of which is relatively wide, the left end is attached to the waist cloth. There are two arm bracelets (keyura) with a three-sided simbar flower motif. The hand bracelets (kankana) are three-layered and smooth. The belly strap (udara banda) is adorned with spirals and flowers. The sash or traditional long scarf worn by dancers (Jav. sampur, uncal) is striped and reaches the knees. The loin cloth (kancut) reaches the ankles has the form of a long ribbon (pita) with striped motif. Anklets (padangada) cannot be discerned. The undergarments (antarya) extend to the knees with a three stripe-pattern. The kundasa [Jv. kundha, ritual brazier?] takes the form of leaves adorned with a middle line.

sugitawan statue4 imagesugitawan statue4 drawing

Bhatari (sketch & image 4): This statue is placed in the same place as the ones above, i.e. in a Pengaruman. The statue is made of hard 'batu padas' and is carved in an upright position called 'samabhahangga' [?], with double square base (asana berbetuk segi empat pola ganda). The statue at the back is attached to a rectangular stele in the form of a double square padmasana with parallel sides, the top of which is somewhat curved. The arms are stretched out to the front [from the elbows], palms facing upwards, holding two rounded flower-like objects. The statue measures a total of 50 cm, the statue alone (without the base) is 43 cm, W 20 cm, D 14 cm; the stele is L 43 cm, W 22 cm, D 5 cm, whilst the padamasana is L 7 cm, and H 22 cm [no depth given]. The front right corner of the statue, i.e. the foot of the statue and the foot of the base, have broken off. The statue has a fairly large head, long face, straight forehead, thin eyebrows, normal nose, flat cheeks, closed lips as if smiling, large ears, normal shoulders, chest stuck out to the front with two large beasts, small belly [ramping: mutilated, disfigured; pierced?], small waist, normal hips, large hands with equally large fingers. The crown of the statue comes in the form of a kirita makuta adorned with rounded objects resembling lotus flower sheaths (kelopak bunga padma), which become progressively smaller towards the top. Earrings (kundala) take the form of leaves with pointed ends dropping down to the shoulders. The necklace (hara) adorned with leaf spirals (pola sulur) like an ornament worn on the neck by dancers (badong). There are two ribbon arm bracelets (keyura) with a three-sided simbar flower motif. The hand bracelets (kankana) are three-layered and smooth without decorations. The belly strap (udara banda) is adorned with seemingly gold-like decorations. The sash (sampur) is attached to both sides of the waist is attached to the middle curve down to the knees. The band crossed over both shoulders (upawita) is a ribbon with vertical stripes. The uncal-sash has a pattern of horizontally crossed lines. The loin cloth (kancut) reaches the ground in between both feet and has vertical stripes. The undergarments (antarya) extend to the ankles and are decorated with stripes and two-layered attachments/fittings [kelitan < Jv, kelit, kelet = attached?].

Batu padas vs. limestone

Nusa Penida consists of limestone, but the statues from the classic period such as the megalithic statues found in this area, have not been made of limestone. They were made of batu padas as elsewhere on (mainland) Bali. I Made Gria (1997) claims that cultural elements in South Bali continued well into the 10th Century. His field observations prove that in Nusa Penida no archaeological remains have been found from the Hindu Bali Period (8th Century). The statues found on Nusa Penida were probably carried over from mainland Bali as the style in which the statues were made is the same as those of Gianyar and Klungkung. The same is valid for the material: batu padas, which is rarely found in Penida. On the basis of his research, it can be assumed that Nusa Penida formerly was closely connected to South Bali.

In former times these statues were used as a means of worship for the ancestors, be they kings, the king's entourage (kerabat raja), or those of the population who performed service to the king. This worship was then used by the king to establish power in order to enforce his relations with the people whom he reined. Presently, the function of these statues is no longer the worship of the ancestors, but a medium to obtain fertility and safety.

Apart from these human-divine statues, there is the statue of Ganesha, which is thought to date back to the Old Balinese Period (10th-13th Century), the statue of a Priest (Pendeta) and of a snake (Naga), with more or less the same measurements as the human statues described above (Balai Arkeologi Denpasar, 1996:8-25)

The (human-divine) statues encountered are relatively small, an indication of the fact that they may have been transported from elsewhere. The statues were made of batu padas, an indication these statues were not made in Nusa Penida as local statues would have been made of limestone. The statues encountered share characteristics with the ones made in mainland Bali. Hence, the human-divine statues found at Pura Saab would have been transported from mainland Bali. 'If a family moves to another area, the elements connected to ancestor worship are also exported'. In mainland Bali, for example, the structure know as 'sanggah kemulan' serves as a medium for the worship of the ancestors. Traditions like the one at Tamblingan are known as 'memendak taulan', meaning 'meeting an ancestor to be 'diistanakan' at the place of worship in the newly occupied villages (Geria, 1993: 45). Based on Geria's writing, it can be assumed that the belief system rooted in mainland Bali also found new ground in Nusa Penida, as in former times Nusa Penida belonged to the Kingdom of Bali.

In conclusion, the statues on Nusa Penida date back to the classic Balinese era are similar to the ones found in mainland Bali. In other words: the 'bhatara-bhatari' statues at Pura Saab Nusa are a means of worship to connect the self with the holy spirit of the ancestors. The statues can be dated back to Middle Balinese Period (13th-14th Century). This is based on the 'Kiritamakuta' crown and the hair at the back, which reaches the stele, and the three-layered cloth.

sugitawan ganeshasugitawan nagasugitawan pendeta

Images above: Photograph 5 (Ganesha); Photograph 7 (Snake) & Photograph 6 (Priest), Sugitawan, 2003

Selected references

  • Gria, I Made - Unsur Budaya Bali Selatan di Nusa Penida Kajian Seni Arca Masa Kalsik , in: 'Forum Arkeologi', Balai Arkeologi Denpasar, 1996
  • Stutterheim - Oudheden van Bali. Het Rijk van Pejeng, Kirtya Liefrink Van der Tuuk, Singaraja, 1929

Source

  • Sugitawan, Resud - Arca Bhatara-Bhatari di Pura Saab Nusa Penida, Kebupaten Klungkung, Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Literature Universitas Udayana Denpasar, 2003.

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