A Rooster of Candi Sari, in Monochrome

Java is home to so many ancient temples that of those that aren't still buried in vegetation or under village, you're still likely to be near one and never know it. Candi Sari, for example, is located in the middle of a village and accessed via a small road that you'll miss if you're not paying attention. It is a beautiful 8th century vihāra (Buddhist monastery) that was home to monks who served Candi Kalasan, a temple some 100 m to the south.

One tries to imagine what the route between these two buildings would have been like. Was it paved? What plants ran beside it? And what kind of domiciles may have surrounded them then? The kind of walk these monks may have made, under cover of a canopy or perhaps the stars, is not one made by modern Javanese. Today, these ruins are separated by the busy highway connecting Yogyakarta and Solo. Rather than journeying alongside them, the busy life cuts through them on its way from one boiling city to another. They are true relics: mementos of the Kedu Plain's mostly forgotten past. Around them, people go on about business unrelated to them, unless it's to see to the occasional tourist who stops by for a photo opportunity or maybe to grab a piece of footage.

And, of course, I am that tourist. I was there to see the old vihāra, but got distracted by a rooster crowing atop its stones, instead. How disrespectful was my distraction to this magnificent building's heritage, but then, I can't help asking: did roosters also crow atop it in the 8th century? For all the symbolic meaning humans ascribe to Candi Sari, for the majority of fauna, it's simply just a place on which to stand, shelter, or find food. And whereas we've forgotten its original, millennium-old purpose, this rooster may still have the genetic memory of its function to the roosters that came before it. While I lament Candi Sari's ruin, the rooster crows.

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By Joaquim Baeta. The files associated with this video are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. You are free to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon them in any medium or format, even for commercial purposes, provided you give appropriate credit to Joaquim Baeta.

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