Friday, December 31, 2010

Selamat Tahun Baru!

Selamat Tahun Baru! 

It's 10 minutes before the top of the hour that marks the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 at the part of the world where I am when I'm writing this post. So, happy new year to all of you dear blogging friends and visitors. I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful year ahead.

I must admit that I'm not much of a new year's reveler. I don't like crowds and would usually spend the new year's eve quietly and privately at home with friends and family. I went out earlier this evening though just to see what it was like on the streets. And here are a couple of pictures I took of the crowds getting ready to welcome and celebrate the new year.

Trumpets and fireworks are the stuff they were looking for and what the street peddlers are offering as you can see in these pictures. Once again, Selamat Tahun Baru!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Sultan of Yogyakarta Palace

One of the highlights of our excursion to Yogyakarta was the Keraton Yogyakarta Hadiningrat (The Sultan of Yogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace), the official residence of the Sultan of Yogyakarta.

This palace was constructed in 1755 by the Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono I (the first Sultan of Yogyakarta) a few months after the signing of The Treaty of Giyanti which divided the old Javanese Sultanate of Mataram into two separate kingdoms, namely Kasunanan Surakarta in the east and the Sultanate of Yogyakarta Hadiningrat in the west, and effectively ended the full sovereignty of Mataram. (The treaty effectively made the new kingdoms as the vassal states under the Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie [VOC] in Dutch).

The palace has seven main complexes, namely Siti Hinggil Ler (the Northern Royal Reception Hall), Kamandhungan Ler (the Nothern Kamandhungan), Sri Manganti, Kedhaton, Kamagangan, Kamandhungan Kidul (The Southern Kamandhungan), and Siti Hinggil Kidul (the Southern Royal Reception Hall). Each of these complexes along with their geographical orientation has very deep philosophical and symbolic meanings that are too difficult to explain in this very short commentary. The whole palace ground was indeed considered sacred and full of mysticism and only a small part of it used to be acessible to the public. Only under the current sultan, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, has more of it been made accesssible to the public.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures that I took from the palace ground:

The intricate carved ornaments of the roof of Gedhong Kaca - one of the newest buildings in the palace ground dedicated as the Museum of the late Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, an Indonesian national hero.

A gazebo in the palace garden used for the royal musicians and dancers to wait for their turn to perform in one of the halls.

A European style statue and stain glass ornaments at doorway of the Keputran (prince quarters).

One of the heirloom halls.

An abdi dalem (court rervant?) passing the gate into the main palace ground. All abdi dalem don't (are not allowed to) wear footwear on the palace ground. He's carrying a keris on his back.

Some abdi dalem sitting in front of their offices in the palace ground.

A senior abdi dalem reading the a babad (a book of historical accounts) in one of the main halls.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Old Way of Life

No, these are not old photographs. Photoscape (TM) helped me turn these photos that I took on the streets of Kota Gede on our Yogyakarta excursion a couple of weeks ago into antique-looking images.

Some old ways of life are still well-preserved in Yogyakarta, like the Andong buggy (see picture) which is still very much in use as a means of public transportation and the bicyle which is still quite a popular means of transportation, especially in the suburban areas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Silversmith Town of Kota Gede

The first place that we visited in our excursion to Yogyakarta was the silversmith town of Kota Gede.

Kota Gede is the old capital of the Javanese Sultanate of Mataram and is said to be the largest silver handicraft center in Indonesia. Beautiful silver jewellery and handicrafts with intricate Javanese and other ethnic designs can be found here.

In the workshop located adjecent to one of the shops, we saw this woman silversmith working on a floral-design silver jewelery.

They even made this sailing ship made entirely from silver.

The facade of one of the shops. It's an old Javanese royal family house with intricate ethnic decorative style and a pair of dragons guarding its roof and gate. There are even some replicas of the sultanate guards at the door way (see photos below)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

USD Staircase

My students, some colleagues, and I went to Yogyakarta for a comparative study to Sanata Dharma Catholic University and excursion last week. Needless to say, I took a lot of interesting pictures from the trip. Here is the first one that I want to share with you: the staircase at the main administrative building of the university. From the top floor, the patterns produced by this staircase look very interesting.