The image of a ship on Borobudur bas relief

A Borobudur ship is the 8th to 9th-century wooden double outrigger sailing vessel of Maritime Southeast Asia depicted in some bas reliefs of the Borobudur Buddhist monument in Central Java, Indonesia.[1] It is a ship of Javanese people, derivative vessels of similar size still survived in East Java coastal trade at least until the 1940s.[2]


The characteristics of the ships of the Borobudur temple include: Having outriggers that are not as long as their hulls, bipod or tripod mast with a canted square sail (tanja sail), a bowsprit with a spritsail, rowing gallery (where people row by sitting or standing), deckhouse, have oculi (carved/bossed eyes), and quarter rudders. Some ships are depicted with oars, numbering at least 6, 8, or 9, and some others have none.[3]

Common misconceptions

There are some common misconceptions about the Borobudur ship:

  1. The ship depicted in the Borobudur temple is an Indian ship. This opinion is supported by Indian and Dutch scholars who attribute the influence of India to the kingdoms of the Nusantara Archipelago ("Indianization"), so the ship depicted in the temple must have come from India. This also stems from the notion that Javanese ships are inferior to Indian ships.[4][5] This argument has been debunked, the Javanese were experienced navigators and built large ships, as early as the first millennium CE (see kolandiaphonta).[6]: 193 [7][8]: 28–29  The characteristics actually indicate Austronesian origin: The presence of outriggers, the use of canted sails with a lower boom, the use of bipod and tripod mast, and rowing galleries.[9]
  2. The ship was a Srivijayan ship or a Malay ship. There is absolutely no evidence to support this statement. Epigraphical records of Srivijaya rarely recorded the types of watercraft, the type of Malay boat recorded is the samvau (modern Malay: Sampan) on the Kedukan Bukit inscription (683 AD) in Sumatra. Another recorded watercraft is the lancang, from 2 inscriptions on the northern coast of Bali written in the Old Balinese language dated 896 and 923 AD.[10]: 149–150  Meanwhile, the Borobudur ship is only found in the Borobudur temple, which is a Javanese heritage, not Sumatran or Malay.[11]: 109–110 [12]
  3. The Borobudur ship is a Majapahit ship. In fact, historical accounts of the main ships of Majapahit mention the jong, malangbang, and kelulus,[13]: 290–291  all of which do not have outriggers.[14][13]: 266–267 

Plate renderings

Renderings of the five ships with outriggers in the Borobudur bas-reliefs (out of seven ships depicted in total) in Conradus Leemans's Boro-Boedoer (1873). Note that the ships are of different types.[15]


In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Naʻalehu Anthony (September 25, 2015). "The Borobudur Temple Ship: Bringing a Memory Back to Life". National Geographic. Archived from the original on November 30, 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  2. ^ Hornell 1946, p. 216.
  3. ^ Inglis 2014, p. 108-116.
  4. ^ Inglis 2014, p. 96-97.
  5. ^ Van Erp 1923, p. 10.
  6. ^ Dames, Mansel Longworth (1921). The Book Of Duarte Barbosa Vol. II. London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society.
  7. ^ Manguin, Pierre-Yves (1993). "Trading Ships of the South China Sea. Shipbuilding Techniques and Their Role in the History of the Development of Asian Trade Networks". Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient: 253–280.
  8. ^ Dick-Read, Robert (July 2006). "Indonesia and Africa: questioning the origins of some of Africa's most famous icons". The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa. 2 (1): 23–45. doi:10.4102/td.v2i1.307.
  9. ^ Inglis 2014, p. 116.
  10. ^ Manguin, Pierre-Yves (2012). Lancaran, Ghurab and Ghali: Mediterranean impact on war vessels in Early Modern Southeast Asia. In G. Wade & L. Tana (Eds.), Anthony Reid and the Study of the Southeast Asian Past (pp. 146–182). Singapore: ISEAS Publishing.
  11. ^ Kumar, Ann (2012). 'Dominion Over Palm and Pine: Early Indonesia’s Maritime Reach', in Geoff Wade (ed.), Anthony Reid and the Study of the Southeast Asian Past (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies), 101–122.
  12. ^ Inglis 2014, p. 98-101.
  13. ^ a b Nugroho, Irawan Djoko (2011). Majapahit Peradaban Maritim. Suluh Nuswantara Bakti. ISBN 978-602-9346-00-8.
  14. ^ a b Nugroho, Irawan Djoko (30 July 2018). "Replika Kapal Majapahit, Replika Untuk Menghancurkan Sejarah Bangsa – Nusantara Review". Nusantara Review. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  15. ^ Haddon, A.C. (1920). The Outriggers of Indonesian Canoes. London, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.
  16. ^ Dennison, Richard (producer) (1985). Flight of the Sarimanok (Motion picture). Philippines: Orana Films.
  17. ^ Liebner, Horst Hubertus (2014). The Siren of Cirebon: A Tenth-Century Trading Vessel Lost in the Java Sea (PhD thesis). The University of Leeds.
  18. ^ Beale 2006, p. 22.
  19. ^ "I ship it! Historic Ship Harbour at RWS". S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa. 2014-06-04. Archived from the original on 2019-06-02. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  20. ^ Pak Dosen (2018-08-18), Opening Ceremony Asian Games 2018 - Jakarta Palembang, 9:14, retrieved 2018-08-26


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