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KRATON RATU BOKO;
A JAVANESE SITE OF ENIGMATIC BEAUTY

Texts by: John N. Miksic & Slamet Pinardi
Published in 2015 for Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan & Ratu Boko


Hardcover
Size: 240 x 240 mm
Pages: 152 pp
ISBN: 978-602-98279-3-4
Price: US$ 33
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Synopsis

The legend of Ratu Boko, “the king who vanished”, is one of the oldest and best-known of ancient Javanese legends. There are many versions of the story, but all involve a love affair between two royal families: a prince who lived on a hill, and a princess who lived in the valley below. The princess is said to have lived where the Prambanan temples now stand. The prince lived on the plateau which for centuries has been called Kraton Ratu Boko, the palace of the king who vanished.

The story aroused the curiosity of European visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries. They explored the hill and discovered the ruins of ancient buildings, statues, and inscriptions. When systematic archaeological research first began, the explorers were astounded to find structures which were different from those they had ever seen. After decades of excavation and restoration, these ruins have now been restored, so that visitors today can see what the ancient site looked like.

The ancient mystery still remains unsolved: what were these buildings for? The ruins seem to combine characteristics of a palace, a Buddhist monastery, Hindu temples, an extensive complex of bathing pools, and a refuge for hermits who lived in artificial caves. The ruins appear to have been built gradually, over a period of a century. Archaeologists and historians are still trying to understand how the different parts of the site were related to each other, and how the whole complex was connected to the surrounding area, which in addition to the Prambanan temples included many other ancient shrines, and a densely populated network of dwellings and rice fields.

The story of Ratu Boko is one of the most intriguing myths which has been preserved in Java. One of the main attractions of the site is the challenge it presents to the visitor: to attempt to disentangle fact from fiction, and to imagine the dramatic events which must have taken place here. The site also offers one of the most beautiful vistas in Java: the sunset over the plains where the ancient kings of Mataram ruled over 1,000 years ago, over which Mt Merapi looms in the background. 

This book is the first to cover all aspects of the Kraton Ratu Boko complex, from its discovery to its transformation into one of the most popular cultural destinations in Indonesia.