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Muara Takus Compound Site

Date of Submission: 06/10/2009
Criteria: (i)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia
State, Province or Region:
Riau Province, District of Koto Kampar XIII, Muara Takus Village
Coordinates: N 0 20 20,19 E 100 38 24,62
Ref.: 5464
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Muara Takus Site is administratively under the Muara Takus Village, in the District of Koto Kampar XIII, Kampar Regency, Riau Province. The Kampar Kanan River divides Muara Takus into two regions. The Kampar Kanan River flowing northward forms a parabolic river bend. In the eastern side of the Kampar Kanan River,there is a small river which is known by the local people as the Umpamo or Limpamo River. The headwaters of this small river is located in the swamp areas in the southeast of Muara Takus and this small river ends in the Kampar Kanan River. The estuary of the Umpamo or Limpamo River is situated exactly at the northernmost curve of the Kampar Kanan River. In the past, a human settlement was situated at the inner side and northern side of the river bend, but more specifically in the eastern side of the river.  However, due to the hydro-power electricity plant development project, both sub-village regions were relocated to a new location approximately 1.5 kilometres southwards of the former settlement.

The environmental condition of the areas on the river bend changed with the resettlement and the construction of a new road intersecting the southern areas that no longer are flooded with the newly built dam.

The research on the Muara Takus Site was carried out in 1983 and it resulted in mapping the sites of the ancient embankment relics, the Mahligai Temple compound, and other ancient structures. The Zones located within the ancient embankment are named Zone I, whereas the Zones located outside the ancient embankment are named Zone II. Inside Zone I, there are the Mahligai Temple, Building III and Building IV; While in Zone II, there are Building V and Building VI. The Zoning was based solely on the grouping of the observed Zones and was not based on the true concept of site zoning.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Muara Takus Temple Site retains outstanding universal values as demonstrated by the discovery of cultural objects and its environment, either from past or present, that are kept relatively intact and well-preserved. Therefore, the Muara Takus Temple Site can be considered to be nominated as a World Heritage in compliance with the criteria in Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the Word Heritage Convention. The criteria are:

 

(i) Represents a masterpiece of human creative genius

The Muara Takus Temple compound was utilized as place for settlement and for worship near the water sheds of Kampar Kanan River. This heritage demonstrates the genius, deliberation, wisdom, and nobility of the ancestors living at that time. The selection of this region as an ideal settlement was based on the following factors:

  • This compound is situated on the higher grounds that are not affected by floods from the Kampar Kanan River.
  • The embankment serves as the region's border line, as a flood guard, and as a part of a drainage system in managing overflowing rainwater. This is evident from several dikes/gaps on the embankment that are parallel with ditches.
  • In the centre of the embankment is the Umpamo River that flows into the Kampar Kanan River. This stream serves as a water drainage for rainwater flowing into embankment.
  • In the inner part of the embankment, there is a relatively flat land.
  • From the above descriptions, the ancestors were not only capable of creating structures from bricks with various shapes and sizes between one temple and the other, but they also had the wisdom and genius qualities to select the location and face the environmental challenges in supporting their livelihoods.
  • Besides that, the Muara Takus Temple Site reflects the values of a masterpiece deriving from the ability and the genius process to maintain the awareness of harmonious relationships between the Creator (God), humans, and nature with a Buddhism background.

 

(iv) be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

The unique structure of the Muara Takus Temple that is unequalled is an outstanding masterpiece created by the community. This ability to create a masterpiece (the structures of Muara Takus Temple) demonstrates the degree of maturity and audacity of its people to improvise.

  • The distinction between shapes and sizes of the temples in the Muara Takus compound demonstrates the level of understanding of the benefits expected from such differences.
  • The construction of the temples was done in several stages and this demonstrates the advanced knowledge and understanding of the past generation carried forward to the next generation. As a result, the structures were different in shapes, sizes, and philosophy (Mahligai Temple).

 

(vi) be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance

  • Muara Takus Temple clusters as well as the settings and artifacts discovered in this region have high archeological values as they provide descriptions of events and tradition of the supporting community in Muara Takus Temple between the 12th century and 13th century (reflecting Buddhism).
  • The most distinctive aspect in revealing past events depicted in the temples in Muara Takus is the religious aspect. The Temple constructions cannot be separated from the need for spiritual values in people's lives.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

• Muara Takus Temple Compound is commonly known as the Mahligai Temple that constitutes one of elevated 'stupa' that creates a tower-shaped structure. Stupa is a unique characteristic of a Buddhist structure; thus, it can be concluded that this temple is of Buddhism background.

• Furthermore, with the discovery of stone fragments with vajra drawings and bijamantra (words of wisdom) inscribed using Nagari characters, it can be concluded that the temple compound was built by followers of Buddhism, particularly the Vajrayana sect.

• The inscription discovered in the temple compound can be used to determine the chronology of the temple, for instance, the Sriwijaya epigraph in the 7th century (for the Ancient/Pallawa vested letters) epigraph of Rakai Panangkaran of Ancient Mataram in Java in 8th century (Nagari characters). Besides that, the chronology of the temple can be determined from the ceramic pieces originating from the 13th and 14th century found in the area. 

• The location of Muara Takus Temple compound is within an area encircled by the ancient embankment made from dirt. It is highly probable that this was a water system that was managed by the ancient community to address the water overflow from the Kampar Kanan River. During the excavation on the ancient embankment, several fragments of bricks similar to the temple's stones were discovered. The data indicates that it is possible that the temple and the embankment were of the same period.

• There is a correlation between the temple's function, the ancient embankment, and the brick structure. It is obvious that in the past, the temple was a sacred religious building, and therefore, around the temple, there must have been a settlement inhabited by the followers or the caretakers of the sacred building. It has been proven from the discovery of several brick structures (tiles) in the inner part of the embankment, that it is believed to be the  foundation of a native's house. Also, household utensils, such as ceramic pieces were discovered.

• In building the embankment and the temple, it is believed that many people were deployed. Thus, a busy settlement might have been led by an influential person (king?) who was able to command people to build the embankment and temple.

• From some etno-historical data, it was described that there was a man named Datuk Laweh Talingo who had ears that were so wide that his ears could be used as a blanket. This character played a significant role in building the ancient Muara Takus embankment. According to the legend, after passing away, this character was transformed into an elephant. It was believed that the elephant that used to visit the compound was an incarnation of this character. There is also a legend on the material used in the brick-making that originated from Pongkai region.

• As from the research results, it was discovered that many new bricks were made in Tanjung region, located approximately 7 kilometres from Muara Takus. The quality of the brick material from that region is similar to that of the bricks used in the temple structure. Hence, the bricks from Tanjung region were used for the restoration of Muara Takus Temple.

Comparison with other similar properties

Similar to the research results of Muara Takus Temple, it is noted that the structure of the temple is incredibly unique and has no match in other sites. In general, it is difficult to find its match. However, the form of stupa on Mahligai Temple is somewhat similar to Biaro Bahal I in Padang Lawas. While in the case of the ancient embankment, a similar structure has been discovered in a pre-historic site Pugungraharjo in Lampung.