DENPASAR, KOMPAS.com - For thousands of years, the best known mosques styles around the world are those that are influenced by the architecture and art of the Middle East and Near East, such as the pillars and domes of Arabic, Byzantine, and North African styles.
But the Al-Hikmah Mosque in the Indonesian resort island of Bali broke out of this mold and opted for the architectural road less taken.
Located in Denpasar, the province's largest city, this house of worship looked less like Jakarta's Istitqlal mosque or Banda Aceh's Baiturrahman mosque with their domes and pillars, and more like the age-old Hindu puras or temples nearby.
Like the temples, this house of worship featured a distinctively Balinese architectural style of stone carvings and statues that are chiseled from dark andesite stone and red bricks.
The mosque's details include curved contours on the fence and gate that depicted statues of dragons, a bird's head, flowers, and a meditative statue of a man with his legs crossed. Other Balinese characteristics included convex and concave leaves and equally vivid fruits.
Built on an endowment
According to the mosque's manager, Hajji Muhammad Suwarno, Hajj Abdurrahman built the Al-Hikmah mosque in 1978 on 500 square meters of land he inherited from his family. Like many traditional Indonesian mosques, the Al-Hikmah was originally made of wood.
The mosque acquired its polyglot style during its first renovation In 1995, when Suwarno hired Balinese architect Wayan Kasim to incorporate Balineses styles.
"[The mosque] symbolizes unification, as it combines Balinese and Javanese bas-reliefs, Middle Eastern arches, and Chinese dragons," Suwarno said of the Al Hikmah.