Borobudur’s 247 Buddhas Still Losing Their Heads

One of 247 headless Buddha statues in Borobudur temple, Magelang Regency, pictured on September 4, 2011.

One of 247 headless Buddha statues in Borobudur temple, Magelang Regency, pictured on September 4, 2011.

By: Sahrudin – @SahrudinSaja

VIEWING from afar, Unesco World Heritage Site the Borobudur temple compounds seems to be so perfect.

That one of world’s greatest Buddhist temples was built by Sailendra dynasty in around 800 AD seems to have no shortage, from the top stupa to its base.

But everything will be different if we were to get closer to it: Borobudur’s 247 of the total 504 Buddha stupas are losing their heads. 

“The neck, the weakest part of the sculpture could be broken easily”, University of Indonesia’s archaeologist Prof Moendardjito said, in Magelang Regency on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

When powerful earthquakes struck off Java island in the past, it might happen the neck and also arm were then separated from the body of Buddha statue, and scattered out and away from the temple area, he said.

Headless and armless, pictured on September 4, 2011.

Headless and armless, pictured on September 4, 2011.

In fact, Borobudur was already in ruins when British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles rediscovered the sprawling temple about two hundred years ago.

One of missing Buddha heads was inadvertently discovered by Kasri, resident of Dusun Mendalan, Tanjungsari Village, a few hundreds meters south of Borobudur temple, while he was breaking ground for his home foundations in 2010.

The andesite head was then taken by the Borobudur Conservation Agency (BKB).

Of the total 247 missing Buddha heads, 57 have been saved by the BKB.

Some of them have been reunited with the body using a mixture of epoxy resin and stone powder and German-made fiber anchor in the joint.***

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