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Exploring Borobudur World Heritage Site through Music

Hundreds of musical instruments carved on more than 40 temple relief panels suggest that Borobudur was probably one of the world’s music centres in the 8th century under the Syailendra dynasty.  

A study by the Padma Sada Svargantara Foundation found that most of these musical instruments are no longer in Java, where Borobudur is, but found today in 34 provinces of Indonesia.  Similar musical instruments are also seen in at least 40 countries.

The findings led the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and Kompas Group to join hands with the Padma Sada Svargantara Foundation to support the Sound of Borobudur Initiative.   Reviving old musical tradition and international connection has the great potential to reinforce the development of Borobudur as a Super Priority Tourism Destination stipulated under the National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2019-2024.

On 24 June 2021, UNESCO participated in the International Conference organized as a part of this initiative to explore the opportunities of music-based exchange as a new tourism drive.  

“The Sound of Borobudur allows us to revisit our civilization and its connection with other nations,” stated the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Mr Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, at the Opening of the Conference.

Head of Culture Unit of UNESCO Jakarta, Moe Chiba, noted that intangible cultural heritage-based tourism has a better chance of being sustainable. It does not rely on heavy infrastructure and is less likely to affect the integrity of the World Heritage site.

Trie Utami and Dewa Budjana – the key artists behind the Sound of Borobudur Music - treated the public with a live music performance with the musicians from Indonesia and ten other countries playing the instruments from the time of Borobudur temple.  

UNESCO welcomes this innovative work and looks forward to the progress of the Sound of Borobudur initiative to set an example of new edutainment at the World Heritage sites.

World Heritage Convention


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