Early drawings

Among the earliest drawings are those, by an unknown draughtsman, of five of the six statues from the Singosari site (Nandishvara, Mahakala, Durga, Ganesha and Bhairava) that at that time were standing in the garden of Engelhard’s residence in Semarang. Both the drawings and the statues are now in Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. The drawings are thought to date to about 1808.

Early drawing of statues at Singosari site

Other early drawings were made by Thomas Horsfield, and by various other draughtsmen, including John Newman, under the direction of Colin MacKenzie. Raffles encouraged Horsfield and MacKenzie and used their drawings (and other information) for his The history of Java. The MacKenzie and Horsfield collections of drawings of Javanese antiquities are now in the British Library. The Singosari drawings date from around 1812.

Drawings by J.T. Bik

In 1822, ten years later, eight drawings are known to have been made at the site by J.T. Bik during the Reinwardt expedition to the eastern part of the archipelago. Two other drawings, also most probably by J.T. Bik, seem to have been made slightly later. They show the temple guardians of the Singosari temple complex. These ten drawings were kept in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden and were transferred to Museum Volkenkunde in 1903.

J.T. Bik also made a plan of the site, indicating the location of a number of statues (the guardian figures, a Ganesha, two Nandis and two Suryas), and the location of four ruins and a well. Brandes found this plan in ‘a large folder among useless papers’ (‘een grooten bundel overigens waardelooze papieren’). It is not known where the original is now kept - it seems to have been at the Batavian Society – but it was reproduced in Brandes’ monograph on Singosari.

When Reinwardt returned to Leiden he took with him a large number of drawings. Since Reinwardt was director of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden, the drawings became part of the collection of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands in Leiden. In 1951, the Herbarium donated 64 of these drawings to the Museum Volkenkunde. Among them was a drawing of Singosari.

It has only recently been discovered, by Véronique Degroot, that it depicts a more complete map of the Singosari site than that reproduced in Brandes’ monograph. It is not actually the original of this drawing, as was first thought, but yet another map, most probably by J.T. Bik’s elder brother, A.J. Bik. It shows all the remains that were known at that time, including Candi Singosari [link naar 821] and a fifth temple to the south of Candi Singosari, both of which were absent in J.T. Bik’s drawing.

Drawing by A.J. Bik

Paintings by H.N. Sieburgh

In 1840 H.N. Sieburgh, an adventurer and painter, visited the site of Singosari as part of his project to paint the ancient Javanese monuments ‘in order to save them for scholarship’ (‘en zoo voor de wetenschap te bewaren’). One painting gives a front view of the temple; another shows a number of sculptures, among which are the two guardian figures, a Nandi and a Ganesha, at the site. A third painting shows Candi Papak (Candi C). His efforts were praised by Leemans, at that time director of the National Museum of Antiquities:

‘The research (about Javanese antiquities) undertaken by the government, the Batavian Society and by various official scholars, is known to the general public. Less known, and completely unknown to many, is how one of our countrymen, driven only by his interest and his love for (scientific) research, without any prospect of personal benefit, completely by himself [...], went to Java. There, at considerable financial cost and frequently risking his health and his life, he ventured to the remotest vestiges of the ancient Javanese civilization. Through pure passion and a skilled hand, he preserved the venerable monuments in beautiful paintings for future generations.’

Painting by H.N. Sieburgh

Drawings by the Committee for Archaeological Research

In 2012 the depot administration found 34 large-format drawings in its care at the National Museum of Ethnology. They appeared to be original architectural drawings of Javanese temples made by the Committee in the Netherlands Indies for Archaeological Research on Java and Madura in 1905 and 1906. Among them are the original drawings with the plans, sections and decorations of the Singosari temple that were reproduced in Brandes’ monograph. The reports of this committee inform us that the study on Singosari ‘with the drawings and photographs by Mr. Melville’ was offered to the committee in The Netherlands for publication.

Drawing by the Committee for Archaeological Research

The Committee for Archaeological Research, established in 1901, and its successor from 1913 onwards, The Archaeological Service of the Netherlands Indies, began to document Javanese temples in a more structured manner. Part of the documentation included visual records in the form of architectural drawings and photographs. The architectural drawings were usually made when the Archaeological Committee/Service was planning to restore a temple. Unfortunately all these materials were lost in 1948 when the office became the target of Indonesian freedom fighters after general Dutch aggression. 

A.J. Bernet Kempers, director of the Archaeological Service at that time, reported the following in the 1948 report of the Archaeological Service: ‘During the year with which this report is concerned it was not yet known that the loss of this material meant that it had been lost for ever. The office of the Architectural Inspection in Prambanan was, it appears, visited by rampokkers, [and during this visit] the glass negatives were smashed to pieces and the rest of the material lost. Unfortunately this office, as well as the monuments themselves, were located in a part of Central Java where exasperate fighting took place after the second police action (politionele actie) at the end of the year of this report’.

It was by accident that these drawings, which were also thought to have been lost, were in Leiden and thus were saved. It is surprising that they went unnoticed for such a long time, only being discovered in 2012. They are signed by H.L. Leydie Melville, Public Works (Publieke Werken) draughtsman, who was one of the members of the Archaeological Committee and who made the initial drawings. The drawings also contain the names of the Javanese draughtsmen who made the ‘clean drawings’ (‘nettekeningen’): Mas Karto Soebroto ("Teekenaar der 1e klasse"), Soedjarnoe, en Mas Joedo Taroeno. They did this so meticulously that it almost seems as if the drawings are printed.

Other drawings

The RMV also has in its collection a drawing by P.J.A. Carolus of the temple as seen from the front, and some more drawings of the Leiden statues by an unknown hand.

Drawing by P.J.A. Carolus of the temple seen from the front