Today I am publishing the materials relating to the Muara Jambi complex in Sumatra; these consist of over 140 photographs, including 11 360° photographs, a map, and relevant information on the site.
The Muara Jambi complex, which lies along a canal system connected to the nearby Batanghari River, is one of the largest in S. E. Asia, and one of the most significant also. It seems to have built up over a period from the 7th – 13th centuries, and was a part of the Srivijaya empire, though it’s exact role is unknown. It covers an area of approx. 80 sq km, with almost 80 candis (historical monuments) still unexcavated, and only eight sites restored at this point.
The candis that are restored are mainly brick-built compounds, with a number of buildings inside, and are surrounded by gated walls, and have the occasional sandstone carving decorating them. Nearly all show the same ground plan: a large compound wall encloses a very green area, with one or more buildings inside, and gates (gopura) allowing ingress. Most of the candis are rebuilt at this point to only one or two levels.
They lie, for the most part, in a lush green jungle, with cultivated clearings, canals running nearby, and sometimes very old and magnificent trees. The setting these days is sometimes as impressive as the cultural remains. Many of the menapos are on settler land, and the Government cannot develop these sites without buying out the owner first.
Besides the buildings some statues, ritual troughs and ceramics were found at the site and many of these are housed in the on-site museum. Smaller remains are also found outside the main area – even on the other side of the river, which would make the site much bigger – but we didn’t visit these.
I travelled with my good friend and kappiya Dr. P.C. Kok, and we were greatly helped to get round the sites by Mr. Budi, who seems to be one of the main movers on the Buddhist scene in Jambi, supporting many of the temples and being a good ambassador for the Sāsana. He organised all our needs and made our stay there a pleasure to remember.