Ritual deposits

One of the most important rituals linked to the construction of the temple was certainly the placement of consecration deposits in various parts of the building. The objects deposited included semiprecious stones; fragments of metals and minerals; gold-leafed figurines of turtles, snakes and elephants; short inscriptions on gold leaf; earth; sand; and organic material.

Stone casket for ritual deposits

'Life-breath'

Such deposits, in stone caskets or jars, or directly placed between the temple stones, are commonly found in Java. There is usually one consecration deposit at the bottom of the pit marking the centre of the temple. Secondary deposits are often found within the walls of the temple body. Archaeological data suggest that sometimes a deposit was also placed in the stone at the top of the corbelled arch closing the central temple chamber. According to Indian texts, the ritual deposit is the ‘life-breath’ of the temple; it ensures that the god will want to dwell in the temple and that the surrounding communities receive prosperity and fertility.

Excavation of stone casketsSource

Consecration of the temple

A similar ritual is still carried out in Bali for temple consecration. An object called a peripih is fabricated from pieces of metal and wrapped in grass and cloth before being tied with string, placed in a container and buried under or within the temple. In the Balinese case, the peripih is considered to be a vehicle of the god’s essence and the temple would not function without its presence. Another peripih is placed in the roof of Balinese temples, which symbolizes Mount Meru, the residence of the gods. During rituals, the gods residing on Mount Meru are asked to descend upon the earth; their essence then resides in the temple peripih. 

Although peripih have been found in many Central and East Javanese temples, no ritual deposit box has so far been found in Candi Singosari or at the site. Shallow test pits made in the floor of the cella and the terrace have revealed that the foundation shaft below the central room was not filled up with earth and stone, as it usually is, but with bricks. There is no mention made in the literature of the brick filling ever having been removed to check whether or not there was a peripih at the bottom of the temple pit.

Golden objects found in ritual deposit boxSource