Early documentation

T.S. Raffles, 1817

The first published description of Candi Singosari appeared in The history of Java, a two-volume work by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor during the British rule of Java. A collector of antiques with a deep interest in architecture, Raffles visited Singosari in 1815, on his way from Lawang to Malang. His description is the oldest we have and one of the most comprehensive. It gives a fairly good idea of the state of preservation of the ruins at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Title page The history of Java by T.S. Raffles

Title page of The history of java, source

Raffles’s History of Java had a considerable impact on the people of his time. For the first time, it was not a travel diary, but a detailed study, a first attempt to present a synthesis of available information on Javanese history and culture. The book, with its rich illustrations, helped develop a romantic image of the antiquities of Java. Ruins and abandoned temples became emblems of the island’s great past, but also, less fortunately, evidence of the supposed deterioration of Javanese society in more recent times, which could, it was suggested, only rise to new heights under colonial governance.

H.J. Domis, 1836

In 1836 H.J. Domis published a revised version of an earlier text titled De residentie Passoeroeang op het eiland Java. He informs us that, at his direction, the sculptures that had been placed in the garden of the assistant resident in Malang, had been transferred back to their original location at the Singosari site, together with other antiquities from Malang. Some, however, remained in Malang.

J.B. Jukes, 1844

In 1844, another famous visitor arrived at Singosari: Joseph B. Jukes, a British geologist and naturalist, who was participating in a three-year survey of New Guinea and Australia on the corvette HMS Fly. In the account of his travels, he left a vivid description of his visit to Singosari, including the temples located in the southern half of the complex. Read more.

Other nineteenth-century documentation

Many other descriptions of the site followed in the nineteenth century, for instance by J. Hageman in 1853, J.F.G. Brumund in 1855 and 1863, W.J.M. van Schmid in 1858, and R.D.M. Verbeek in 1891. Conrad Leemans (pdf), director of the National Museum of Antiquities at the time, made descriptions of the Singosari statues, drawings and paintings in Leiden in 1885, and W.P. Groeneveldt described the 12 statues that were transferred to the museum in Batavia (Jakarta) in 1893.

Early twentieth-century documentation

Around the turn of the century a new period began, with the establishment of a Committee for Archaeological Research on Java and Madura. (See Restorations and excavations). The 1909 monograph, by J.L.A. Brandes, on Tjandi Singasari remains a valuable contribution to our knowledge of this temple complex and the early history of its research. Mention should also be made of N.J. Krom’s description in the second volume of his Inleiding tot de Hindoe-Javaansche kunst in Nederlandsch-Indië of 1923.

Studio portrait of J.L.A. Brandes

Portrait of J.L.A Brandes, Source