Tjandi Prambanan Temple Yogyakarta - Antique Photograph by Kassian Cephas. 39

 Original 1893 photograph of the rediscovery of the Tjandi Prambanan temple taken by Kassian Cephas, the first Indonesian photograpfer.  

Kassian Cephas or Kassian Céphas (1845 – 1912) was a Javanese photographer of the court of the Yogyakarta Sultanate. He was the first Indonesian to become a professional photographer and was trained at the request of Sultan Hamengkubuwana VI (r. 1855–1877).

After becoming a court photographer in as early 1871, he began working on portrait photography for members of the royal family, as well as documentary work for the Dutch Archaeological Union (Archaeologische Vereeniging). Cephas was recognized for his contributions to preserving Java's cultural heritage through membership in the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies and an honorary gold medal of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Cephas and his wife Dina Rakijah raised four children. Their eldest son Sem Cephas continued the family's photography business until his own death in 1918.

The Prambanan Temple,

The temple was first built at the site around 850 CE by Rakai Pikatan and expanded extensively by King Lokapala and Balitung Maha Sambu the Sanjaya king of the Mataram Kingdom. An eruption of Mount Merapi volcano, located north of Prambanan in central Java, or a power struggle probably caused the shift. That marked the beginning of the decline of the temple. It was soon abandoned and began to deteriorate. The temples collapsed during a major earthquake in the 16th century. Although the temple ceased to be an important center of worship, the ruins scattered around the area were still recognizable and known to the local Javanese people in later times.

The Javanese locals in the surrounding villages knew about the temple ruins before formal rediscovery, but they did not know about its historical background. The temple attracted international attention early in the 19th century. In 1811 during Britain’s short-lived occupation of the Dutch East Indies, Colin Mackenzie, a surveyor in the service of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, came upon the temples by chance. Although Sir Thomas subsequently commissioned a full survey of the ruins, they remained neglected for decades. Dutch residents carried off sculptures as garden ornaments and native villagers used the foundation stones for construction material.

Half-hearted excavations by archaeologists in the 1880s facilitated looting. In 1918, the Dutch began reconstruction of the compound and proper restoration only in 1930. Efforts at restoration continue to this day. The reconstruction of the main Shiva temple was completed around 1953 and inaugurated by Sukarno. Since much of the original stonework has been stolen and reused at remote construction sites, restoration was hampered considerably. given the scale of the temple complex, the government decided to rebuild shrines only if at least 75% of their original masonry was available. Most of the smaller shrines are now visible only in their foundations, with no plans for their reconstruction.

These helio-engraved photographs are in good condition, with minor foxing on the original mount they are published on. 

Kassian Cephas
Tjandi Prambanan Temple Yogyakarta - Antique Photograph by Kassian Cephas. 39
Publication Place / Date
Image Dimensions
Full sheet 36.5 by 27 cm. - Photograph 21,5 by 15,3 cm.
Black and White
Product Price
Product Number
USD 180
SKU #P.2223