Discussion on the original location of the Bhairava

The sculpture was reportedly found by N. Engelhard at the beginning of the nineteenth century and transferred by him to his residence in Semarang. In his letters, Engelhard claims in passing that all the statues he moved from Singosari were from Candi Singosari, thus including the Bhairava. Since we can trace the original location of the other sculptures to the niches and subsidiary rooms, it was suggested that the Bhairava, if it indeed comes from Candi Singosari itself, could have been placed either in the vestibule or in the main chamber. 

Given the respective dimensions of the vestibule (170m x 150m) and the sculpture (125cm large, 72cm deep), it is very unlikely that the statue stood there. Besides, we do not know of any Javanese temple where the vestibule housed such a large statue. We should also consider the possibility that the Bhairava was placed in the main chamber. Moens suggested that it originally stood behind the yoni and linga, on the back wall of the central room. Stuttherheim, however, refuted this idea, among other reasons because the moulding that runs around the chambers is cut away on the back wall so as to make room for the statues that were taller than the height of this moulding. In the central room this is not the case, so the image could not have been placed directly against the wall. Stutterheim then considered whether the image could have been placed on the pedestal in the centre of the room, but dismissed this idea on the basis of the fact that the pedestal in the main chamber was too small for the Bhairava and the ceiling too low. The pedestal measures 1m x 1m and the sunken part measures c. 50 x 50 cm, too small to hold the 78cm x 60cm base of the Bhairava. 

Another argument contradicts the hypothesis that the Bhairava stood in the central chamber. Pictures of Candi Singosari before its restoration at the beginning of the twentieth century show that the entrances to the northern and eastern temple rooms were destroyed, while the western and southern ones were still standing. Engelhard therefore had easy access to the Ganesha and the Durga, but not to the Agastya, which he left in situ. Did he really enter the central chamber and remove the Bhairava without damaging either the entrance or the statue? The Bhairava is large (125cm x 72cm) and heavy (1500kg). Moving such a sculpture through a narrow doorway (88cm wide) would not be an easy task, especially not if one has only beams and ropes at one’s disposal.