Bali’s oldest known artefact
Published/Last edited or updated: 9th February, 2017
The Belanjong Inscription (or Belanjong Pillar, locally Prasasti Blanjong) is Bali’s oldest known artefact dating from the Saka year 835 (914 AD) and for folks interested in archaeology it’s defiantly worth the quick detour, but despite its historical significance, it’s somewhat difficult to see and only of mild interest to the passing traveller.
Discovered in 1932 and remaining in its original location, the 177 centimetre tall cylindrical stone pillar has a diameter of 62 centimetres, crowned with a carved lotus element which may have been the plinth for a since lost statue, and inscribed in two different scripts, Balinese and Nagari, in two different languages, both ancient Balinese and Sanskrit.
Curiously the scripts and languages are mixed up from what is considered the norm and has only partly been deciphered, but bears the name of Sri Kesari Warmadewa believed to be Bali’s first king, and seems to refer to military or trade connections possibly with Nusa Penida or even Maluku. However, even if you are a scholar of ancient script and language, the inscriptions are mostly covered by a ceremonial cloth, and the entire pillar is enclosed in a wood and dust-smeared glass structure that obscures it further.
The pillar is not so easy to locate as the only marker is in Indonesian—look for the sign which reads “Cagar Budaya Prasasti Blanjong”. To the left as you face Pura Belanjong on Jalan Danau Poso, a short alleyway leads to the site bounded by a stone wall and metal gate.
On our first attempt to visit (late afternoon) the gate was locked but there is no indication of opening hours, however on a morning visit it was open, without an attendant. It’s possible to walk around the glassed enclosure to view the pillar which stands within a deep pit, lower than today’s ground level. A visitors book and offerings sit on a small table nearby. The pillar is considered part of the temple grounds, so it’s appropriate to dress modestly to show respect.
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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