Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Alun-alun" Bandung - Life at Bandung's City Square #1

"Tahu Gejrot" vendor at Bandung City Square - ©Eki Qushay Akhwan

Text and pictures copyrights ©Eki Qushay Akhwan, all rights reserved

City square (or in Indonesian "alun-alun") holds a very important function in the Javanese cosmological concept of a city. Alun-alun is not just an open public space or park in the center of the city. It is literally the front yard of a king/ruler's palace/residence. Surrounding it are the various symbols of a society/nation's livelihood. By rule, the palace should be located on the southern part of the square, facing north. On the west is placed a house of worship (the divine element: a mosque in Moslem Indonesia; a temple in Hindu era Indonesia). East of the square is the place for the market (the mundane/worldly element), and north is the place for the administrative offices of the kingdom/country/city.

Bandung's city square is as old as the city itself. The square was built as part of the new capital city of Bandung Regency in the early 19th century (before then, the capital was located at Dayeuh Kolot [old city], further south of where the current city square is located). The square's face has undergone a lot of changes since then, but one thing remains the same: It's still a bustling, open public space where citizens meet and do different kinds of activities.

In this series of photo coverage, I am trying to show you what life is like at Bandung's City Square today.

Leatherware and trinkets vendor at Bandung City Square - ©Eki Qushay Akhwan

TUKANG SATE ALUN-ALUN copyrights Eki Q Akhwan
"Sate" vendor at Bandung City Square - ©Eki Qushay Akhwan


Laurie said...

These are so evocative and alive. Eki, I want a book of your street photography.

Thanks for the explanation of ALun-alun. I had never seen that term before.

Virginia said...

So how's the food that you find in the square? Do you eat it? Would love to know what they are cooking. I love a bargain, I might need to do a little shopping with the trinket/leather guys.

Hendrawan said...

Alun-alun, is it a place for relaxing?

may be next mont brother..

tapi sayang sister city-nya uda basi

ilhamks said...

hand salute for you. and proud announce that i'm for fan :)

Hilda said...

Looks very, very much like any public square — we call it a plaza — (or even just wide sidewalks!) in Metro Manila. I think I'd feel very much at home there and you here. ;)

I like how you described how your plazas are organized — very interesting. In many of our old-time towns and cities, the municipal hall is always across the plaza from the church, but I never noticed if they are oriented in a particular direction or even if the sides are also prescribed. I'll take better notice next time.

Thanks for another wonderful post, Eki!

babooshka said...

This the kind of photography I want to do here but unfotunately the loacls aren't into it at all. I like these straightforward honest street scenes that documents life for future generations. Really is a different life through a lens.

Tash said...

What a wonderful vibrant place. The closest we come to that is the farmers market of Sundays.
Eki, thank you for your kind condolances & for your visits to PVDP. This time of sadness is being filled with many lovely memories of time spent with my dad.


Fine shots of fine folks. I mean ordinary people doing honest living.If I were to visit Bandung, this place would be in one of my 'must visit'list.Congrats for creating sense of place in the photos.

Dina said...

Informative photos and I especially enjoy your explanation of the cosmology!

Rambling Woods said...

I was wondering about the street food also..Is it safe and good?

Richard B said...

These are quite magnificent and are my main memories of my life in Indonesia. When are you going to start selling your photos?