History of Indonesia
Origin & History of Indonesia - It is generally believed that the earliest inhabitants of the Indonesian archipelago were of Indian or Burmese origin. Later migrants known as Malays came from Southern China and Indochina at around 3000 BC. By the end of 7th Century, powerful groups such as Buddhist Srivijaya Empire and the Hindu Mataram kingdom developed in Java and Sumatra. The 13th Century witnessed the rise of Hindu Majapahit Empire in East Java, which united the whole of what is now modern day Indonesia and parts of the Malay Peninsula. The subsequent spread of Islam into the archipelago in the 14th century forced the Majapahits to retreat to Bali in the 15th century.
By this time, a strong Muslim empire had developed with its centre at Malacca on the Malay Peninsula. Its influence was short lived and it fell to the Portuguese in 1511. Then, in the middle of 16th century, Dutch displaced the Portuguese and began making inroads into Indonesia. The Dutch East India Company based in Jakarta dominated the spice trade and the Dutch took over the occupation of Indonesia for about 350 years. The Dutch East Indies, as Indonesia was known at that time, fell under British rule for the period of 1811-1816. Later on burgeoning nationalism combined with Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II weakened the Dutch resolve, and they finally transferred sovereignty to the new Indonesian republic in 1949. Achmed Sukarno-the leader of the freedom struggle- became the first President of Indonesia.
Geography of Indonesia - Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It consists of five major islands and about 30 smaller groups. There are total number of 17,508 islands of which about 6000 are inhabited. Straddling equator, the archipelago is on a crossroads between two oceans, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and bridges two continents, Asia and Australia.
The territory of the Republic of Indonesia stretches from 6°08' N latitude to 11°15' S latitude, and from 94°45' E to 141°05' E longitude. Total Area of Indonesia is 1,919,440 sq km (Land Area: 1,826,440 sq km; Water Area: 93,000 sq km).
The five main islands are: Sumatra (473,606 sq. km); the most fertile and densely populated islands, Java/Madura (132,107 sq. km); Kalimantan, which comprises two-thirds of the island of Borneo (539,460 sq km); Sulawesi (189,216 sq km); and Irian Jaya (421,981 sq km), which is part of the world's second largest island, New Guinea. Indonesia's other islands are smaller in size.
The country is predominantly mountainous with some 400 volcanoes, of which 100 are active. The highest mountain is the perpetually snow-capped Mandala Top (15,300 feet) in the Jaya Wijaya mountain range of Irian Jaya. Many rivers flow throughout the country. They serve as useful transportation routes on certain islands, for example, the Musi, Batanghari, Indragiri and Kampar rivers in Sumatra; the Kapuas, Barito, Mahakam and Rejang rivers in Kalimantan; and the Memberamo and Digul rivers in Irian Jaya.
Culture & Religion
Culture & Religion of Indonesia - The present day culture of Indonesia is an outcome of the interplay of age-old- traditions from the time of early migrants and the Western thought brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists. The basic principles, which guide life include the concepts of mutual assistance or "gotong royong" and consultations or "musyawarah" to arrive at a consensus or "mufakat". Derived from rural life, this system is still very much in use in community life throughout the country. Though the legal system is based on the Old Dutch penal code, social life as well as the rites of passage is founded on customary or "adat" law, which differs from area to area. ''Adat'' law has been instrumental in maintaining gender equality in Indonesia.
Indonesian art forms are greatly influenced by religion. The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindu mythology and often feature fragments from the Hindu epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The crafts of Indonesia vary in both medium and art form. As a whole the people are artistic by nature and express themselves on canvas, wood, metals, clay and stone. The batik process of waxing and dyeing originated in Java centuries ago and classic designs have been modified with modern trends in both pattern and technology. There are several centres of Batik in Java, the major ones being Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Pekalongan and Cirebon.
Indonesia is rich in handicrafts. Various forms of handicrafts practiced are: woodcarvings for ornamentation and furniture, silverwork and engraving from Yogyakarta and Sumatra; filgree from South Sulawesi and Bali with different styles of clay, sandstone and wood sculptures. These are but a few of the handicrafts found in Indonesia. 3
Religion in Indonesia: The majority (about 88%) of the population follows Islam. In fact Indonesia is the nation with largest Muslim population. However, freedom of religion is provided by the Indonesian Constitution, which is defined in the First Principle of the State Philosophy' "Pancasila", which upholds a "Belief in One Supreme God". Others religions followed in Indonesia are Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.
People of Indonesia - Indonesia has a population of about 250 million and it is the fourth most populous country in the world. According to the last census the total Muslim population is approximately 88% of total population, making Indonesia the largest Muslim society in the world. Indonesian population consists of many ethnicities- 45% Javanese, 14% Sudanese, 7.5% Madurese and 26% other ethnic groups.
There are about 583 languages and dialects spoken in the Indonesia. They normally belong to the different ethnic groups of the population. Some of the distinctly different local languages are: Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Toraja, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese, and several Irianese languages. To make the picture even more complex and colorful, these languages are also spoken in different dialects.
Bahasa Indonesia is the national language, which is akin to Malay, written in Roman script and based on European orthography. In all the tourist destinations English is the number one foreign language. In big cities Dutch is still spoken, while popularity of French is increasing at good hotels and restaurants.
Shopping in Indonesia - There are plenty of things to shop in Indonesia. Among the favorite shopping items are batik cloth, woodcarvings and sculpture, silverwork, woven baskets and hats, bamboo articles, krises (small daggers), paintings and woven cloth.
Bali is the best place to shop in Indonesia, with every conceivable item readily available. This is an excellent place to buy an incredible variety of souvenirs, arts and crafts, clothes, batik, and woodcarvings. Street vendors line kilometers worth of roads. Although the availability and range of goods here is excellent, this may not be the cheapest place to buy items. Prices are often ridiculously high and you are required to use all your bargaining skills.
To purchase traditional arts and crafts at much cheaper prices it is best to head out to the smaller, more remote towns in the archipelago. Markets and vendors in these areas will only sell arts and crafts made locally. Along with these more traditional street stalls, there are large western style malls in some of the bigger cities. They house more up market clothes shops and western fast food restaurants. Jakarta has the largest array of these malls. Prices here are normally fixed.
It is not all lip praise, however, there exists throughout the country a real belief in the absolute justice in word and deed of the English people and of the surpassing greatness of their nation. All the documents which they showed me that were given by Raffles to their fathers had invariably lost their wax seals, and, on asking what had become of them, the unfailing reply was:-"We have eaten them" Each document they believed was the token of rights and privileges which could never be revoked, but which would one day, though at present in abeyance, come again to them; and as the seal in their estimation is the most effectual and the potentest part of a Deed, they had eaten it; and somehow, should the writing itself get lost, the seal at any rate had become part of themselves and its potency would descend to their heirs.
The "Company." that is, the present government, for the designation still continues - "The Company gives me this" ('this' with a most contemptuous curl of the lips), as he exhibited his own alongside the English uniform of his companion (the costume did not really deserve such a curl); "and I have to pay five rupees for this" (a narrow gold band on the right arm), "and five rupees for this" (its fellow on the left), "and five for this" (on the neck). "The Ingris gave a costume like that, with a sword and seventy-five rupees a month besides!" They were always anxious to learn from me when the English were coming back again. I dare say that if the English were back, they would possibly sigh for the return of the Dutch, their supposed grievances against the dominion for the time present doubtless being always sorest.
During my stay in the Passumah lands, the news that I was an Englishman spread far, and I was several times visited by people from the Passumah Ulu Manua district, which about the year 1820 was under the rule of the English, having been annexed to the East India Company's dominions when Sir Stamford Raffles held the Lieutenant-Governorship of Bencoolen. the original document, formally recognising them as "subjects of the Honourable Company, and entitled to all the privileges of that condition," was brought to me by the grandson of one of the chiefs with whom the treaty was then concluded, carefully preserved in a bamboo case. He had heard, he said, that I was English, and he had come several days' journey to see me, for he had heard both his grandfather and his father tell of the greatness of the "orang Ingris." It was at least flattering to one's national pride to find how deep a hold their rule had taken on the gratitude of the people, when those of the third generation had come to extol to one of their countrymen their merciful and just government, and with wonderful, and of course exaggerated, tales of their liberality and of the profuseness, richness, and grandeur of the Governor's court. One old fellow came arrayed in one of his most precious heirlooms, the English-made coat, of his grandfather, of a purplish serge with steel-ring epaulets and with a curved sabre bearing King George's monogram worked on the handle. He sadly bemoaned that the present Government had not continued to him the chieftainship of his father's marga, and with the present Passirahs it was evidently a sore matter that they received no pay from the Government, when under the English rule they received seventy-five rupees a month )75 pound sterling a year), a great sum to these people. I was very amused by the way one Passirah showed me his official dress.
The postures are peculiar; the figures have the appearance of persons bound, bearing burdens on their backs. The ringing of the arms, which the natives call bracelets, must be taken, I think, to represent cords, as the same marks occur also below the shoulder, where it is not the custom of the Passaumahers to wear armlets. The eyes are immense and protruding to a great degree, lending weight to this idea. The sex of the persons represented is also doubtful. There is almost no tradition respecting them, beyond that they are the handiwork of Sarung Sakti and Lidah Pait (Bitter Tongue), who, wandering about the country, turned all who displeased them into stone; or that they represent the people who in the far, far back time used to inhabit this land, and who possessed tails, which the renowned ancestor of the Passumah people, Atum Bungsu, cut off. Near Pagar Alam, I saw also two stones, but quite of a different kind of sculpture; one was the representation of a woman sitting in native fashion, with an infant on her hip in th4e way that their children are generally carried about. Both hands support the breasts, which are apparently turgid. Her features might represent a Passumah woman. The other, distant a few yards only, is a spirited sculpture representing two children attached by a python. The reptile is coiled about the children, one of whom has fallen, while its head is partly in its mouth. The action of the smaller boy, in thrusting off the snake with all his strength, is natural and well designed, though somewhat wanting in execution. These stones differ in character so much from the others at Tangerwangi, and have besides so little relation one to another, that it is impossible to conceive for what purpose they can have been made. The only conclusion is that a superior race, possessing considerable knowledge and refined taste, and with technical skill not possessed by the natives of any part of the island at present occupied this region; but who they were and when they dwelt here in absolutely shrouded in oblivion.
Some of the most interesting objects in the Passumah Lands are the sculptured figures found in so many parts of it. The greater number of these are so broken and defaced that no satisfactory result can come from their examination. They have been ascribed to Hindoo origin by at least one writer. Hearing that there existed two of these "men turned to stone" at Tangerwangi not far from my camp, I paid them a visit. I found them to be immense blocks of stone, in excellent preservation, which could certainly never have been seen by the writer to whom I refer. They are carved into a likeness of the human figure, in a posture between sitting and kneeling, but which it is not quite easy to make out from the way in which the stones are lying. Besides the two of which I had heard, I discovered by clearing the forest, first a third and then a fourth, both prostate on the ground in such a way as to indicate that they probably fell from the result of earthquakes; or by stones ejected from the volcano at whose base they had stood. Each figure has a groove down the back and they had apparently stood on a flat pedestal, with their backs towards one centre, with their faces more or less accurately to the cardinal points of the compass. The features of all four are of the same type of countenance; but the race now living in this region did not form that model, and it is equally beyond question that the Hindoo features are not represented. It is not certain that the Hindoos, who, as it is well known, settled in some parts of Sumatra at the time of their gr3eat occupation of Java about 1000 B.C. ever were in the Passumah lands; but if they ever were, there is no reason for supposing that they should depart from their wont in Java and elsewhere, and figure in their sculptures the lineaments of another race than their own. If these stones are not the work of the Hindoos, they must have been carved by either the then people of the district or by foreign sculptors. If by Passumahers, did thy depict their own features or those of another race? But who these former inhabitants of the Passumah were, whence these foreign artificers came, and for what these sculp0tures were used, is shrouded in deep mystery. It is quite certain also that the present inhabitants could not conceive, much less execute, such works of art.
On inquiring where the dead go, I received the following answer: "We Ulu men (living near the sources of the rivers) do not follow the custom of the sea-coast people. They say that when their people die they go to a great field, flat and without any trees, on which the hot sun pours day and night. There they have to remain day and night, roasting (pangang), for a long, long time, reading day and night the Koran. After a time Allah comes along with a great umbrella over him, attended by a large company. Those that have learned best he calls to walk with him in the shade of his umbrella; those that have failed to learn all that they ought are beaten up in a great mortar, and sent back somewhere on earth, whence after a trial they are again transported to the baking field, where a time is allowed to them to perfect themselves, when, if they have made proper use of their opportunities they are at last called under the great shade; but if, after all these trials, they have failed to learn, they are beaten to dust in the mortar and blown away. We Ulu men do not know if this is so or not, and wonder how they know, for we have never heard of any one who has come back to tell them. We Ulu men do not know whither we go, but the breath that goes out of the mouth is lost two arms' length away, and we believe that we mix with the wind and follow it whenever it goes; and our bodies certainly not away."
When a man dies his body is brought into the Balai and there laid out by the head man of the village, with various ceremonial observances, accompanied by a certain form of words, differing with, and appropriate to, each act, their ritual for the dead. Having wound a cord about the body, he takes the dead man's head between his hands, and rolls it gently from side to side; the teeth are rubbed with a piece of sapotaceous wood; the tongue is pulled forward and touched with it, the nostrils and the ears also; the eyelid is raised to permit a last look; the arm is rotated by turning the forefinger; each toe and finger is flexed; the nails are gently scraped; the juice of a lemon is squeezed over the body, which is finally sprinkled with water and wrapped in white cloth. The dead are buried without the village in a square plot quite in the wilderness. "Are they not dead? That is the end of them, and what is the good of knowing more about them."
The place they hold in most reverence is the grave of the Nene Poyang, or stem father of the Passumah, over which their most binding oaths are taken; to perjure themselves on it would be equal to sealing their doom. If there be a dispute between two people of the same or of different villages, both retire, accompanied by their respective chiefs, to this sacred spot, where a fowl or a sheep or a buffalo, according to the gravity of the affair, is killed, which after being cut up into small pieces, is cooked in a great pot. Then he who is to take the oath holding his hand, or a long kriss of the finest sort, over the gravestone and over the cooked animal says: "If such and such be not the case, may I be afflicted with the worst evils." The whole of the company then partake of the food. If the man has sworn falsely they believe that in a short time after he will be seized with some dire sickness, and will die; if he plants his fields they will not grow, or will produce barren stems; but not only will he himself be crushed by misfortune, but, in an affair of magnitude, all who were of his village who ate of the feast, if not the village also, will be overtaken by disaster. The people of Passumah Ulu Manna, which lies between the broad Passumah and the town of Manna on the sea-coast, have the same origin as those of the broad Passumah, and consequently their most solemn oath must be taken over the same grave. Now where a cause is before the magistrate, and it is necessary to swear a witness, it costs a journey of some twenty days. There has been brought, however, I am told, a stone from the grave of their ancestor to the court of the magistrate, which the people respect and swear over. One can perceive that ere long th4e oath of the district may be sworn over any stone, and in time to come it may be forgotten why they swear over a stone at all.
The people of the Passumah are pagans; but their paganism is throughout tinged in form and utterance with Mahomedanism, which in former times may have spread to a medanism, which in former times may have spread to a slight extent among them. They have no priests. They believe in Dewas, who inhabit the volcanoes and the deep forests, and also in the evening power of the spirits of their forefathers if they transgress the old customs set by them. In times of difficulty and perplexity they ascent to the margin of the crater, and in the cold of that elevated spot they pass one or more nights; and once in every three years a company from the village repairs to burn incense, and sacrifice to the Dewa some animal on the Sawah (as they name a spot just below the present cone), which must have been the floor of an old crater before the upheaval of the present one. They believe in the power of forms of words, and in the possession of spells. When a youth goes away on a journey he leaves with the object of his affections an inscribed bamboo, which she daily reads (if she is able to do so) to secure his fidelity to her and success in his undertaking; she then drinks a draught of water from it, sot hat the spell may amalgamate with her own self. In the roofs of their houses they secrete bamboos with various inscriptions to ward off sickness, and to cure it when it enters the dwelling. The surat bantal, a prayer inscribed on blades of bamboo, placed below the pillow, will insure for a mother safe delivery; and, when her infant will not cease crying, the repeating of its contents will still it. When an aged person is very sick, and cannot possibly recover, but yet lingers long at the threshold of death, they8 possess another formula, whose reading will release the dying spirit in peace.
On the day of the marriage the youth and his bride come before the Head of the village, who is as it were both king and priest. After offering to the Dewa incense of bensoin, and sprinkling over them rice yellowed with curcuma powder, he reads what may in truth be called their marriage service, a long and singular formula of great interest, called "Sawe berdundun," which I had the good fortune to obtain a copy in the rentjong character inscribed on a bamboo. It is a sort of invocation to all their pagan pantheon, among whom one is invoked as dwelling within the Nine Mists, to bestow their blessing on the union. Another of their curious customs I saw performed during my stay in the village. It happened that a young girl had fallen clandestinely with child (an offence of great magnitude among them) whose father it was incumbent on the chief of the village to discover and report to the chief of his marga. A court, consisting of these two officials with the chiefs of the two neighbouring villages, was consequently called together in the Balai in which I was staying. The girl was summoned to appear, and, accompanied by her mother, she took her place on a mat before the chiefs. The head of her village, having seated himself on the ground, prostrated himself before a little incense-holder of burning benzoin, and chanted an invocation to various of their deities, concluding with - "Ye Beings who regulate the universe, make it clear whose is the fault." Then, in the midst of dead silence, he scattered over the girl some handifuls of yellowed rice-grains, and demanded the name of the partner of her crime. She replied, giving the name of some one in a distant village, and, being warned to speak the truth, she declared: "Banish me if you will, hang me if you will, kill me if you will, I can say no other - that is the truth." This finished the inquisition. Next morning a commission consisting of the chiefs who had formed the court with several armed villagers, set out, accompanied by the girl, to bring her charge against the village whose member had brought disgrace on theirs. If the person named by the girl should on his oath deny the charge, the case nowadays is carried before the magistrate of the district. In other days it was referred to the arbitrament of war or of the Dewa, who would certainly afflict the perjurer or his (or her) village; but, for the purification of the disgraced Kampong, the deity had to be invoked over a sacrificed buffalo. The woman would secretly as her time approached disappear from the village; and when, after a space, she returned she would come alone. If the person named by the girl accepted the charge, as he did in this case, and was willing by either of the modes of marriage practised among them to make her his wife, both villages, as well as the Dewa, are supposed on hs paying a small fine to be satisfied.
The men dress as in other districts. The women, especially the maidens, are strong, well proportioned and well developed; many of them are very good-looking, having, what is rare among the Malay races, characteristically marked red cheeks. They wear usually only one garment, a loin-cloth fastened below the breasts and reaching to the middle of the thigh. Their arms are decked from the wrist to the elbow with tiers of silver bracelets, and the lower joint of every finger with as many rings as it can hold, but they did not exhibit any delicate ideas about spoiling their lustre, and, notwithstanding the incongruity of the combination, I have often seen them grubbing up roots with their jewelled fingers, and filling baskets with earth to the clang of their bracelets. Marriage between members of the same village or village cluster is prohibited among the Passumah people; in some districts even those of the same marga are within the bombs of consanguinity recognised by them. The two forms already described at page 151 as practised in the Lampongs I found existing here also; the one by simple purchase; the other (ambil-anak) by which the father of the bride adopts his son-in-law into his family, more as a slave, however, than as a son. The position of the man married by the latter arrangement recalls in his utter subserviency to the woman - her properly never passing to him as long as the marriage bond remains, and his children always hers - the insignificant and pitiable position of the paterfamilias among the Egyptians under the Ptolemies, in which "the woman owned all and ruled all; the man was a helpless dependant. As a child he was the property of his mother and as a married man the pensioner of his wife."
The Passumah people are a tall strong race, with well and intelligently moulded faces; the nose with a rather prominent and straight dorsum, the eyes sunk deeply in the head, the cheek-bones projecting, but without the prominent thick lips so distinctive of the Malay face. They are very independent, somewhat surly in heart and desperately lazy people; not very friendly inclined to their neighbours in the adjoining districts. They are by no means dishonest, and live peacefully among themselves. Their children are lively and amused with little; but neither of their parents trouble themselves much about them after they are old enough to run about by themselves. They were rather afraid to allow me to submit their length and breadth to the test of the measuring-line, dreading lest the measure of their bodies should bear some sinister relation to the span of their existence. After giving, however, the most pacifying assurances, I found ten men and five women bold enough to risk the danger. The avenge height of the men was 5 feet 4-15 inches, the length of his arm 11-23 inches, and of his forearm to the tip of his longest finger 2 feet 5-1 inches, while in the women the corresponding measurements were, 5 feet 0-75 inches in stature, 11-35 inches in length of arm, and 2 feet 3-85 inches of forearm. The tallest man was 5 feet 8-25 inches, and the most herculean of the women 5 feet 2-75 inches.
When one asks a Passumah man whence his forefathers came in the Tempo-dulu, in the days of yore, the reply is often either from Dewa, or from the sun, or from Alexander the Great (Sekander Alam); but to most of them the matter is shrouded in mystery. Hearing, how4ever, of a chief of a distant village specially learned in these matters, I went for him to come to visit me. He was the son of a very high chief in their independent days, and as such, the history of the Passumah Lands had been instilled into him from a boy, as part of the education that belonged to his rank. I found him wonderfully versed in all the old ways and customs of the Passumah people, and my only regret is that I had not then the knowledge on which to found many questions which I should now like to know replies to. I wrote down from his lips many of their strange ceremonial formulas, which are difficult to find nowadays save inscribed on some old bamboo or longer-leaf, which may have happily survived the ravages of the boring beetle and the frequent village fires. Not the least curious was his account of the creation: How different sorts of birds, with curious but not meaningless names, produced eggs from which in the fullness of time escaped the solid earth and the sky, the moon, the stars and the sun; then the grass plains and the forests, the sandy shore and the coral; how the sky wept and there came the rains and the deep sea; how then the Dewas were, and the hierarchy of good gods and the company of evil spirits; how the Dewas reproduced and marriage was; Adam married with Uwo (Eve?), the earth married with the sky, and the mist with the clouds and Allah gave conception to all things.
From Pagar Alam to my destination at the little village of Pau, lying 3500 feet above the sea level on the slope of the Dempo, where it begins to raise its majestic mass more erectly, was but a forenoon's march. The village of Pau was very small, and its Balai of minute dimensions. Without an hour's delay, however, I set about enlarging and rendering it habitable. By the combined efforts of the greater portion of the inhabitants, of two villages which lay within a few minutes' walk, we floored the place, railed off a part for a sleeping apartment and fitted a bed into it, furnished the outer portion with a table and a door, which we made out of that blessedest of all the vegetable productions of a toolless and saw-mill-less land, the bamboo; and before night I had unpacked all my baggage, books, and apparatus, and settled into my neat abode with feelings of the utmost satisfaction and contentment after my thirty-five days' march. The village lay on the road leading to Bencoolen, and as once a week a large market was held near Pagar Alam, I had an opportunity of seeing not a few of the people of the districts towards the sea-coast, as they came often to the markets in the way of trade, and often passed a night in the village. As a sort of goodwill exhibition towards the villagers, and a return for their hospitality they would often give a musical performance, or engage in a dance. One of the latter interested me much. The dance itself was very much like the Lampong dances, calm and attitudinal, but with the addition of lighted tapers, fixed in small saucers held in the hands. The seriousness, however, of the performance was enlivened by the introduction of a comical element. Closely imitating in an exaggerated manner all the motions of the dancer, but affecting to keep in his rear and out of sight, was another dancer simulating the fool, who was quite ignored as if entirely unperceived by the principal performer, but at whose remarks, gestures, and grimaces, all the people laughed heartily. Here we had the simple elements of the theatrical performance - an embryo play with two performers.
At noon I reached the first of those singular gorges which are another characteristic feature of the plateau. Its sides descended precipitously to the bed of a small river which was running in a narrow channel cut through the solid rock, on which the marks of the former levels of its water were plainly graved, and descended under a narrow bridge that spanned it in a series of pretty cascades. A few miles farther, on taking a sharp turn of the road, I suddenly found myself on the brink of a precipice over whose edges I could dizzily see, more than 500 feet sheer below me, the foaming Endicat river spanned by a picturesque roofed bridge. Till close on the edge of the precipice it was impossible for the eye to detect the slightest sign of a gorge; it roamed over what seemed a nearly level country. The descent and ascent were made by long difficult corkscrew paths cut in the face of cliffs, that were densely clung close to its sides. On again gaining the level of the plateau, and looking back from a little distance, the eye ranged over the chasm without perceiving any trace of it. This scenery recalled the descriptions I had read of the singular canons of the Yellowstone River in North America. At frequent intervals over all the plateau I passed tabats or lakelets of various sizes, the result probably of slight subsidences of the ground which, curiously enough, are full of fish, though they have often no river running out of them. The same afternoon I reached Bandar, and the next day held on to the village of Pagar Alam.
A little further on, as I neared the village of Lahat, the summit of the volcano of the Dempo whither I was bound, raised its head in the distance. After resting for a couple of days in the town, enjoying the hospitality of Mr. Van Houten, the Resident of the district, I pressed on north-westward. After a journey of a few hours up the Lamatang valley I entered, on climbing out of the gorge on to its high bank, a landscape with entirely new features. I looked out on what appeared to be an immense white sandy plain, which in reality was the plateau of the Passumah Lands, covered with grass, but with scarcely a trace of a tree anywhere - one of the singular features of this region, and one by no means common in the tropics. It is said that for at least 300 years there has been no forest here; but that previously, however, there were trees which had been destroyed by a great fire. That a conflagration should have burned up such an immense tract, leaving no clumps or uninjured seeds of any kind in the soil to start a second crop of arboreal vegetation, seems very doubtful. In Ceylon however, in the midst of great forest regions, there occur tracts, marked off with singular sharpness from the surrounding forest, in which no trees are to be found. Perhaps the bareness of this plateau may be the result of some such train of circumstances, or perhaps it may owe its peculiarity to the effect of eruptions of the overshadowing volcano, towards which the plateau slopes gently upwards.
The Cerillo is a tall conical mountain on a somewhat narrow base, rising irregularly till about 800 or 1000 feet from its summit, when it suddenly contracts into an inaccessible acute spire, like a gigantic finger pointing heavenward. I was not surprised to be told that among an ignorant people its singular shape had invested it with superstitions dread. The natives make long pilgrimages to it to speak with the Dewa that they believe resides there, ascending to the highest accessible spot, where incense is offered and other ceremonies performed.
I halted for the night at Muara Inim, a large village at the confluence of the Inim with the Lamatang and one of the important centres of commerce and civilisation in the Residency. Once a week a small steamer comes here - 120 miles from the coast - bringing mails and passengers and all the merchandise for the north-western Highlands of Palembang. It is the starting-point of the main cross-country road to Bencoolen and Padang, which after crossing the Inim ascends the western bank of the Lamatang through a rather monotonous strip of country, which I beguiled by examining the coal bands (of Pliocene age) that crop out at various points in the clayey marls on the roadside. Suddenly turning the corner near the village of Merapi, the traveller comes face to face with one of the most singular and picturesque mountains of Sumatra - the Cerillo Peak - which, though high, is, owing to the configuration of the country, not seen till one is close at its base.
It was interesting to note how the navigability of the rivers influence the people even far inland. In these reaches I found Islamism of a purer form, and the people more learned in civilised ways; while in the upland regions not geographically distant, such as Kisam, Makakau, Semindo and the Blalau districts, which I had just traversed - high plateaus with which communication is difficult - the people still followed the pagan superstitions of past ages, and continued the customs and rites of their great-great forefathers with little change. Passing through the village of Darma, where I noted with curiosity the skulls of divers species of animals nailed to the gable end of a house, which pertained, I was informed, to its Pangeran's Tukang-binatang, or gamekeeper - a fact I might have guessed without asking (had I imagined that Pangerons had among their retinue such an official), since I was myself an inhabitant of a land where his professional brother hangs out as marks of his prowess a signboard just as barbarously garnished with the bodies of owls and hawks, weasels and inoffensive little squirrels, and every rare feathered bird that visits his neighbourhood.
The heavy rains that had delayed me several days here having cleared somewhat, I proceeded on my way northwards; and, crossing the watershed of the Ogan, descended into the valley of the Inim, a large tributary of the Lamatang, another of the great branches of the Palembang river. The village customs in each of these great valley systems differ but slightly from each other; yet each has some distinctive characteristic; each has its own style of architecture; and each its own pattern of garments and hat-ornamentation. In religion the Inim people are Mahomedians. They bury their dead, however, in one large mound with the head eastwards; the women lie alongside their husbands, but the children are buried anywhere their parents may wish, only never in the village mound.
Cock-fighting is now strictly prohibited by the Government, which, only on special occasions, gives for a limited number of days permission to the chief of a marga to hold a tournament within his district, and for whose good conduct he is responsible. He is allowed to charge five per cent, on all transactions which take place, and a fee from all stall-holders as a sort of recompense for directing the affair and keeping order. With this percentage the Pangeran is able to provide a buffalo at little cost to himself, which is slain on the last day of this Vanity Fair, and followed by a general gormandising. From the nature of this whole entertainment one may hope that the dead Pangeran advance a full stage in bliss.
The cock-pit, or Galanggan, was a large enclosure some twenty feet square, railed in by stakes twelve to fourteen feet high, sufficiently far apart to enable those outside to see all that went on within. the cocks about the flight were handed over to the care of two officials, whose office is to direct affairs in the ring. By them were attached with scrupulous care long double-edged steel spurs, sharp as lances. As soon as the sound of the bedoog announced that this arena was to be occupied again, all other sports were instantly deserted, and the crowd pressed round the Galanggan. The cocks were brought into the ring by the proper officials, each holding his bird carefully with its leg armatures sheathed. Into this enclosure no one but the officials, the owners, and some favourite few were admitted. The two cocks were then held up before each other by the gulangs, who ruffled for them their neck feathers, tugged their combs, patted them on the breast and sides, and shook them with a tremulous sort of instigating motion, performed with a knack and neatness which indicated the professional hand. This manoeuvre whose execution is the envy of onlookers, is imitated by the children in the miniature cockerel fights that they get up before they are old enough to speak. When the fowls had been thus irritated they were allowed, while still in the hand, to have one dig at each other just to put them on their mettle, and with their terrible armatures bared, they were set facing each other, a few feet apart; and then came the charge. I shall never forget - for I was utterly unprepared for it from the stolid Malay - the yell and deafening shout of savage delight and excitement that arose from the up to that moment mute and eager but, to all appearance, unexcited crowd as the combatants rushed at each other, and which was kept up all the time the conflict lasted; nor how the gulangs, following on hands and knees, each close behind his fowl, watched each movement in silence with a glaring and excited eye - the rules of the ring prohibiting them from touching or reinstigating the cock during the continuance of a round - like nothing I can think of so much as the intense motions of a pointer close behind a warm scent, and at every onset they scanned their bird from side to side to see if it had sustained any injury. In the first combat that I witn3essed both cocks were badly wounded in the first round; one even fainted away. The seconds and supporters carried each their bird aside to apply restoratives, if possibly they might be able to continue the contest to a final issue. They bathed its head with cold water and administered some with a feather down its throat; a cloth was held over it to keep off the sun, and smoking pieces of wood held under its nostrils and over its comb. For a time it seemed as if the worst wounded would have to be declared vanquished, as it was unable to enter the lists, but his spirit came again on instigating him with a strange cock for a few minutes. After the same preliminary patting and facing and the solitary dig, they were again allowed to rush at each other; but after a few skirmishes the badly wounded bird turned tail and was declared the loser. In the second of the only two fights I ever witnessed the combat was very short, but very fierce. Both birds were sorely wounded at the commencement, but in a short space one rolled over mortally wounded, with a gash in its side through which the four fingers could be passed. After both fights there was immediately heard the clinking of money, and a general rush to the Balai was made to settle their bets. Often 40 pound sterling may be laid on a cock; and in a day's gaming as much as 250 pound sterling has been known to change hands.
On the last day of my stay here I spent a forenoon with my host in seeing the sports still going on at the neighbouring village of Luntar, which were preliminary to a fest which was to close the some twenty days' festivities - a sort of high pagan mass for the rest of the soul of its Chief's father. In the village was collected a large crowd from surrounding margas and even from as far as Palambang, the scene resembling a village feeling fair at home. At the outskirts we came on small booths for the sale of eatables, fruits, and sweetmeats; but everywhere else each little crowd had in its nucleus a gaming-table of some sort. First favourite was a stall where a mat spread on the ground was marked off into various denominations of staking, odd or even, and on any number up to five. Its presiding genius, with a countenance as stolid as the most approved banker at a roulette table, squatted on the ground with a saucer before him, on which he twirled the fatal teetotum, and with a most professional air covered it up with half a cocoa-nut shell so that it might run fair. When the "gentlemen" had all done staking, he lifted the lid with a flourish, declared the fates, paid his losses, and gathered in his little pile of gains, without moving a muscle of his face. He was a Palem anger, this sedate banker, with a sharp eye and cruel expression of countenance, and, having learned wisdom, doubtless, among the comers and goers of that great commercial centre, he had come up the water to operate on the simple natives here. His stall was constantly surrounded by an eager crowd of patrons, ranging in age from eight years to forty harvests, who staked with untiring zeal various sums from the two-fifths part of a penny up to two of three shillings. Games of chance of a like nature were going on in all directions; but I moved on to witness the heroic sport - the noble and national game of the country - Nyabung, or cock-fighting.
The houses of the Ogan people were all richly carved, and the ornamentation is said to be peculiar to their own valley. The Semindo men (a district lying about a day's journey to the west) are credited with the invention of the designs; but the Palerabangera, who are famous workers in wood, are generally the builders, and accommodate each district with the style of "tata" or ornamentation peculiar to itself, which it has retained for generations. The accompanying sketches will illustrate the designs most in vogue. On the lowermost beam or Tailan-luan, that resting on the pillars, we have the carving (represented below), and called tata bubur-talam; the second figure represents the carving on the Pahatan, or the lower beam of the framework of the house; where the tata simbar commences the designs, followed by the tata awan, which either continues the whole length of the beam alternately reversed till it is closed again by a second tata simbar, or both are used throughout alternately erect and reversed. The interior of the raised portion is either left uncarved or is adorned with the foliage and flowers, of which the outlines appear in the design. This is the Ogan pattern par excellence. On the door-posts I found in some houses tata ramoramo (ramo means, wild beast) which is not true Ogan, but adopted from the Semindo people, and it is extremely interesting to observe how effective an ornament has resulted from the representation of a tiger or some such animal, in which the eye has become a floral ornament, and the legs and tail have developed into scrolls.
A curious feature of this place was the abrupt hills of which I have spoken. Composed of calcareous crystalline rocks, probably of Eocene age, they appear to have been in ancient times the boundaries of the ocean in which was laid down what is now the plain of Eastern Sumatra. The Peak of the Riang, the most abrupt of them all, is the highest land between itself and the coast, distant in a direct line one hundred and twenty miles, and commands a magnificent panorama of a long stretch of the Ogan valley, running between deep barriers, the sun-flash on whose surface guided the eye all along the winding course till it disappeared through a narrow rocky gateway into the blue sea-like plain of Palembang. Below, fields of young corn, dotted with small watch-huts which were so utterly embowered in Convolvulaceae that they seemed to be simply immense bunches of yellow and purple flowers, covered the rich flats all along both banks, and might themselves have marked out the course of the river by their luxuriant verdure. The Pangeran owned rice-fields, partly inherited, partly purchased, which he informed me were worth 20,000 pound sterling. He reckoned, however, that his income, from cotton and coffee and other fruits, but princially from buffaloes, was greater than from his rice-fields.
From the verandah of the house the scene, which could be leisurely watched as I comfortably rested, was one of great interest. Across the river the village of Pengandonan glinted through the palms; the villagers were constantly going to or returning with loads of fruit and vegetables from the fields in little boats, or poling up and down or across the river on narrow rafts of five or six short bamboos lashed together; there was a constant stream of women and children either to bathe or to wash rice or to fill with water the basketful of bamboos slung behind them. As every one wore more or less brightly-coloured garments and cylindrical hats painted with dragon's=blood red, the scene had no lack of colour or life to make it a pleasing one. When the rain-torrents brought the river down in flood, as it did about once a day, the scene was still more lively. The whole population, men, women, and children, swarming out like a disturbed ants' nest, with creels, hampers, baskets and nets, dashed in up to the very eyes, where the fores of the stream was broken a little, to scrape the bottoms and sides of the river for the fish (which have taken refuge there out of the current) allowing themselves the while to be floated down the stream for some distance; then, running up stream again, shouting and laughing, they dashed in for another and another bout. These floods sometimes quite cut me off from communication with the opposite side; and as my cooking was all performed in the village, I was constrained sometimes to go dinnerless to bed. When a few hours' rain is sufficient to flood the river so as to bring down fruits, branches, large trees and (as I saw on one occasion) a broad slice of ground with the bamboos growing on it, one who has not seen it can but faintly imagine the volume and power of such a river after the incessant rain of several days.
A short intercourse with the Pangeran served to show that he was a native far superior in intelligence and ability to most of the chiefs about him. Though dressed no better than the ordinary native, and preferring his sandals - whose possession is always a mark of superiority - carried behind him to wearing them, he had even more than usual of the easy dignified politeness and gentlemanly bearing of the higher Malaya. Yet when, a few yards from the river bank, below a shade of trees, we suddenly came on a neat carriage evidently waiting for some one, so little was I prepared for his reply to my surprised query, "Whose is the carriage?" that it almost 'took away my breath' when he quietly but not without a little pride, said, "It is mine." The carriage was drawn by a pair of well-kept black ponies, furnished with every European appurtenance. It certainly was incongruous, one felt, this spanking pair, with bright silver harness, whirling through villages of poor-looking cottages without one refined taste to match this specimen of high civilisation in their midst. Every village we passed through poured out its inhabitants to see the bright equipage, which, though housed quite near, was evidently a by no means common apparition. The women stared with open mouth, and the children, in all the clothing nature had given them, raced us for a long way, shouting with all their might. It was evident that the Pangeran, satisfied with the honour of having purchased such a possession, was not much given to indulging himself in the use of it, if one may judge by the undaunted way, utterly regardless of dynamical principles, in which he took the most rectangular pieces of a road never made for a carriage. Perhaps I may misjudge him, and he may have so accurately known these principles as to be able to drive within an inch or so of the centre of gravity without dislodging it. He never eased up to a corner; even a double right-angled "hook" was described with wonderful precision, if not with the utmost comfort. Holes or no holes, longs or no logs in the way, he never drew rein till we halted for good at the door of the Pasanggrahan, a rest-house which he himself had erected on the right bank of the river for the benefit of officials visiting the district.
SOJOURN IN THE PALEMBANG RESIDENCY (continued) Taking my departure from Gunnung Megang, and crossing the watershed into the Ogan valley at 2000-3000 feet above sealevel, I descended towards Pengandonan. Passing through the village of Luntar, I found the chiefs of the marga and a great concourse of people from all the region assembled on the third anniversary of the death of the Headman's father, to secure the welfare of his soul by feasts and sports. Here was waiting for me the Pangeran of Pengandonan, which was the adjacent marga. After a liberal refreshment of tea, with the ubiquitous Huntley and Palmers' biscuits, and a Palembang baked comfit, made principally of sago and the hushed up flesh of a fish (whose large scales, dyed of various colours, are extensively used - and admirably adapted for the purpose they are - to cover or "tile" over the large leaf hats used in the district), and some ripe juicy oranges, I set out with my host for Pengandonan lower down on the opposite side of the Ogan. We crossed the river on a raft at a very beautiful spot at the confluence of the Labam and the Ogan. On our left were several curiously formed, abrupt hills; facing us was the bare-topped, calcareous peak of the Riang rising sheet from the bank, and just above the ferry was moored a flotilla of rakits - those picturesque floating houses by which the produce of the region is transported to the coast, which to the trader are ship and comfortable house for many days together on these great rivers.
The people are pagan, believing in the influence of the spirits of their dead forefathers. Near the village of Gunung Megang I came on their burial-ground, laid out in the forest by the pathside - a great elevated quadrangular mound, in length just enough to admit a full-grown body. A rough stone at head and foot indicated where each person lay side by side with his neighbour. Only the married people are interred in this common burying-place, in the right, perhaps, of their being parents of the people; all others, youths and infants - useless off-shoots of their race - are buried anywhere in the forest, and always some distance from where their elders lie. An unmarried woman about to give birth to a child is compelled to leave the village and retreat to the forest, whence after some forty days of solitary sojourn she returns - never with her offspring - and the village is purified by the sacrifice of a buffalo. Their most sacred oath is sworn by placing a hand over the grave of their forefathers amid the incense of benzoin, or in a circle drawn on the ground: "May the spirit of my forefathers afflict me if I have spoken falsely," being the formula. The same manner of swearing obtains, I am told, among the inhabitants of the Makakau, Komering (Muara-dua), Semindo, and Blalau (Hoodjoong) regions. The Kisam people swear also by drinking the water in which a kriss has been dipped, as well as by the spirit of Tuan Raja Gnawo, who has his dwelling-place on Mount Dempo.
The Kisam people write in a character called, from its being inscribed on bamboos with a pointed knife, rentjong, differing only slightly from that used in the Lampongs, which nearly all of them - women included - can read and write. During my journey I was able to obtain several interesting bamboos inscribed with their songs. These pantuns are metrical compositions consisting of line of eight to ten feet in length, sometimes rhyming and sometimes not; but they are curious in that after every few lines one or two others which have absolutely no meaning in themselves, or connection with the composition, are interpolated; some euphonious word being caught up and added to others more or less alliterating with it, to make a good jingle of sounds. The dress of the women is remarkable for its shortness and scantiness. As a rule their single garment is made by themselves in the pattern peculiar to their district, from their own home-grown cotton or silk. but the cultivation of the silk-worm is now almost abandoned, since unrestricted intercourse with Palembang, and through it with the outside world, brings the products of foreign looms to their out-of-the-way doors with less trouble than they can make them for themselves. Thus are the waves of civilisation sweeping away the indigenous industrial arts of the people, and flooding out their manufactures, turning the hereditary crafts people to other occupations.
The shield had double supporters; on each side a tiger rampant bearing on its back a snake defiant, upheld the shield, in whose centre the most prominent quartering was a floral ornament, which might be a sunflower shading two deer, one on each side - the dexter greater than the sinister. Above the floral ornament was a central and to me unintelligible halfmoon-like blazoning, but on either side of it was an "ulai lidai"), but of what it was the similitude among creat4d things, beyond suggesting faintly the lineaments of a scorpion, I was not pursuivant enough to recognise; on the sinister of the two, however, was a man "tandacking" (dancing). Below the tips of the conjoined tails of the supporting tigers were two ornate triangles, the upper balanced on the apex of the lower, which might with truth be described as the supporter of the whole, but whether these bear any reference to the mystic signs recognised by the Worshipful Lodges is a question that I must leave for the Chief Mason to settle as best he can with the Chief Herald. I feel inclined, however, to assert that it was as good as escut-cheon and as well as honourably emblazoned, as any that ever emanated from the College; and who dare say that it is less ancient? The sight of that emblazoned board and its carved surroundings, hid away in a small little-known hamlet in the Kisam hills among a half-savage and pagan people, astonished me not a little, and added respect to my farewell salutation to its chief.
The houses of the Kisam people were of a pattern of their own. They were mostly of bamboo wickerwork fitted into a framework of wood, and slated with little boards of cedrilla wood. Each house had built out from it a chamber on the same level with it under a slightly lower roof, which was used as a lounging place for the owner and a sleeping room for visitors. The door was reached - as the houses stood on tall piles - by a slanting tree-trunk, in which a series of notches only large enough to admit the toes served as steps, and up which a booted traveller found it no easy matter to ascent. The space below the house was blocked with chopped-up wood, whose primary use was, doubtless, as a protection against the entrance of thieves or attack from below by enemies, as it is apparent how easy it would be to thrust a spear or other instrument through the bamboo floor into the bodies of the sleepers resting on it. The beneath of the man's house is considered almost as sacred as its interior, and their laws attached supreme penalties to the crime of being found at night there. The house framework in most of the villages was elaborately carved in intricate patterns executed with the most patient care. In Padjar-bulan, a very old village which I passed through, the decorative carving far exceeded in profusion and excellence that in any of the others, especially in its Balai, where I was greatly interested in finding what I may call a veritable coat of arms, carved out of an immense block of wood and erected in the central position, where one would expect an object with the significance of a coat of arms to be placed. From what I could learn it had such a significance in the estimation of the chief of the village; for he told me that only such villages as could claim origin from some distant village could erect such a carving in their Balai. I am not, however, master enough of the terms of the blazonry current in the College of Arms to describe it in fitting language.
My further course northward traversed the sources of the great arms of the southern of these systems. Sending my baggage on to Pengandonan by the level road on the low lands, I proceeded on foot thither over the Kisam Hills. Just above Muara-dua the Slabung river was crossed by a very high suspension-bridge of a most picturesque construction. In the form of a segment of a great circle, its floor was of cylindrical logs securely tied to three gigantic rattan calbes the true supports of the bridge, fixed to the shore pillars; over these logs was a close bamboo basket-work pleasant to the nude foot of the pedestrian, railed on both sides, and protected overhead by a close thatched roof - the whole forming a long hanging cage, which swayed freely as it was traversed. From this bridge I again ascended abruptly on to what was once in all probability the bed of the Ranau lake before its dimensions were interfered with by upheavals. The rivers I passed had cut deep rocky gorges, down which it required some care to pick one's steps, through the straits of 150 to 200 feet in depth, showing the pumicestone tuff tuff superincumbent on Tertiary rocks of Eocene age containing fossil Cyprava, Teredina, and Peeten shells. The whole country was undulating, and full of alang-alang grass, and low second-growth forest which presented in itself little of interest, and prevented any view of the surrounding country.
From the lake, on my next stage towards the Dempo, the road descended through the same picturesque country (in former ages probably the bottom of the Ranan lake greater than now) all the way to Muara-dua. This town, "at the mouth of two rivers" as its name signifies, is situated at the union of the Sako with the broad Komering river, and is the seat of a large trade by river with Palembang in cotton, tobacco, rice, timber, and "birds' nests" - the edible swifts' nests - gathered from dark calcareous grottoes in the neighbourhood. The town, though distant 200 miles in a direct line from the sea, is only 400 feet above its level, and stands really on the edge of the great alluvial plain which lies along the entire eastern shores of Sumatra, formed by the detritus washed down from the Parisan range into a sea whose coastline, retreating by a slight elevation of the land, left dry this broad plain, which rises nowhere throughout its vast extent more than 600 feet above the level of the sea. Before its upheaval, South Sumatra could not have been more than 100 miles board. Several great river systems, running in a general west-to-east direction fan-shape in form, traverse it, and are laying down along the margin of the land a further deposit, the slight elevation of which, for some thirty feet only between Palembang and the Island of Banka, would raise the shallow sea into dry land. Near the town of Muara-dua I was surprised to net a European moth (Phragmataeia arundinis).
The village of Banding Agong, whither I moved for a short time as the guest of Mr. Hisgen, the Controller of the district, was a delightful spot, situated at the south-east angle on a high but sheltered spot, commanding one of the finest views of the lake that can be had, exactly fronting the volcano and the peaks of the Tapa Skandri, or Footsteps of (no less a hero than) Alexander the Great, whom the chiefs of these regions claim, singularly enough, as their illustrious stem-father. The industry of the lake borders, for which it is famed throughout the Archipelago, is its tobacco culture, which is grown on a loose porous earth composed of the detritus of pumicestone mixed with humus. The finest quality is made from none but the very topmost leaves of the plant, and commands a very high price.
A few interesting captures of insects, many of them quite new species, were made here by the margins of the lake; especially may be mentioned Xeropteryx simplicior, previously known only from Borneo, and Heterodes ansonialis, described before from the far-distant Duke of York Island, east of New Guinea; and two splendid new species of Papilio, P. itamputi of Mr. Butler, and P. forbesi of Smith, allied to P. aleiabiades.
Tall forest trees clothed the high margins of the lake, which descended here and there to grassy bays and level green swamps; on the sandy margins flourished fig-trees and Erythrinas with large bright scarlet flowers, on whose crooked stems flocks of blue herons (Butorides javanica) and pure white egrets (Bubuleus coromandus) constantly sat dozing out the heat of the day. In the early mornings they had busied themselves in gathering the leeches and insects from the backs of the buffaloes, by whom their kind offices seemed highly appreciated. On the high solitary trees perched clumsy, bald-headed adjutants (Leptoptilus), whose thin long legs always suggested the idea that they had escaped from some taxidermist's hands when he had just got the length of running the wires up their shanks. In the marshes snipe abounded in great plenty; grey ajoo-jooats (Tringoides) on the sandy beaches, and shy water-hens (Hypotaenidia striata) among the tall flags. The lake teemed with fish of many kinds, the best being the semah (Leobarbus) which, when full-grown, is as large as the largest salmon, and the katjubang (Batia macranthus), a small but most beautiful scarlet- and black-banded fish.
After the usual festivities given on the visit of a white man, in which the dancing of the maidens, attired in their best attire and jewels, is always a conspicuous feature, I settled into possession of my new home with a light and hopeful heart, for it was situated in a district considered to be one of the prettiest in 'Sumatra, by the margin of the lake looking out on the cone of the Siminung; but the very night of my arrival, whether by accident or by design in doubtful, some poisonous drug was placed in one or other dish of my evening meal, which induced profuse internal haemorrhage that nearly proved fatal to me. Happily a strong emetic rid me of the noxious ingredient, and a few days of care restored me to my normal condition; but it is not a very pleasant reminiscence of the place. The Ranau Lake lies 1700 feet above the sea level at the foot of the now quiescent - if ever within historical times active - volcano of the Siminung. From its shape, which is that of two irregular circles run together, it appears to occupy the site of an old crater. In the centre it is of extreme depth. At various points round the margin nearest the Siminung, hot springs of 127 degrees F. of temperature bubble u, and warm the greater portion of the western end from 7 degrees to 10 degrees higher than that of the air. It is abundantly stocked with fish and bivalve mollusca; but when they approach too near the warmer shore, where the temperature is above 100 degrees F., the water instantly proves fatal to them. These springs and the very frequent earthquakes - no fewer than three occurred during my short stay - attest that, though the volcano is now quiescent, the interior of the earth here is in a very unquiet state.
Next morning I continued my way towards the Lake Ranau, and at the marches of the Kroe and Palembang Residencies, the confines of their territory, my hosts of Sukau took farewell, and I was welcomed by the chiefs of the neighbouring marga, who conducted me to Tandjongajati, the village where I purposed to spend some time. If I was the day before inclined somewhat to levity at the general appearance of the procession that greeted me, I felt embarrassed the other way on meeting those chiefs of the Ranau district. Sedate-looking men of middle age they were, dressed in neat black official coats, spotlessly clean collars, white starched trousers with a sarong girt about their loins, patent leather boots, and on their heads the imposing official cap, which I saw them for the first time, mitre-like in shape, covered with cloth of gold, while each carried in his hand a gold-topped stick bearing the arms of his Majesty of Holland, the insigna of the office. They looked such aristocratic personages and so faultlessly attired that I felt that I ought to descend from y horse and bow myself to the ground in return for the profound salaam with which they received me.
Descending from the northern face of the plateau, I was met by the chief and under-chiefs of the marga, at some distance from the village of Sukau, where I was to spend the night; and at the boundary of the village I was greeted by a crowd of the inhabitants and a band consisting of three youths - one in the middle fingered a flute which he had newly cut from a bamboo, the two others each beat a small bronze gong both of them cracked, which they carried in one hand suspended before them by a cord, tinkling it with a short twig in the other - who played me to the Balai to the notes perhaps of their margal anthem. Providentially the stateliness of the occasion made conversation out of place, otherwise, had it been necessary to open my compressed lips, I would have shocked the fathers of the people by the heartiness of my mirth, for never have I taken part in so ludicrous a procession with so solemn a countenance. Consider its composition: the musical advance-guard as I have described; the central figure under a hat as big as an umbrella, in garments the worse of repeated conflicts with the thorns and thickets of the forest, seated on a small steel caparisoned in a bridle with more knotted cords than leather in its composition and in a saddle that required every artful device to keep it from falling to pieces, his long, great-booted legs, almost trailing on the gr9ound; alongside on either hand the mute chiefs in duly solemn countenances, followed by a rear-guard of cookies with my baggage, and the general crowd of men, women and children - and who would not have desired to relieve his twitching pent-up risorius muscles?
From the crossing of the Semangka river the road to the northward rises to the watershed of the rivers which fall on the one hand south to the Semangka Bay, and on the other into the lake Ranau and thence eastward by arm of that immense river system which drains the whole eastern side of the Barisan range for more than 200 miles due north, and discharges itself into the Java sea below the queer half-floating town of Palembang. This mountain road, 3000 feet above the sea, led me across as pretty and picturesque a piece of country as one could wish to travel through, winding round the head of deep glens, with occasional gorges to right and left which have left only three feet of ridge-path between them, and along th4e face of forest=clad precipices, hundreds of feet deep below which flowed hidden streams whose murmur bubbled up from among the trees as a pleasant music. In descending from the plateau I found at about 2500 feet, growing in sand soil where it seems best to flourish, several stems of the giant arum (Amorphophallus titanum) one of the largest known herbs. The biggest of these specimens measured seventeen feet in height.
Leaving Hoodjoong in the end of January, I proceeded north eastward towards Mount Siminung and the Ranau lake district; repassing on the way Kenali and Batu-brah, I crossed the Semangka river near its head-waters, as a small stream running in a very deep valley of soft sandstone. In descending the face of the valley the gigantic results of denudation were very striking, where the rain of only one season had been sufficient to excavate enormous ravines. Even the rain of a few days had newly washed down thousands of tons' weight from its slopes. From this cause the whole country was exceedingly picturesque, sculptured out into singular and rugged outlines, steep gorges and precipitous valleys. From such a landscape one is able to picture faintly the effect of this vast leveling agent working ceaselessly through cycles of time, in carving and changing the face of the country and in planing down the mountains and table-lands, even where protected by virgin forest.
The old plantations were overgrown, and the demand for their products had been satisfied by other countries. It was only the rising oil price after 1973 that lifted the nation out of its poverty. Tourism only became gradually a top industry. Sukarno pursued a policy of 'guided economy', a sort of semi-nationalization, and 'guided democracy', permitting only agreement. By 1964, after 15 years in power, he made himself president for life and styled himself the 'Great Leader of the Revolution'. This revolution was being prepared by the PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party, with his full cooperation. It would remove the last vestiges of democracy and of the free economy, and align the country with North Vietnam and North Korea into an Asian Axis. On 1 October 1965, the Communists kidnapped six of the seven leading generals of the army and murdered them. (The one who escaped was General Nasution, the defence minister.) The army quickly regrouped under General Suharto, then commander of the Army Reserve, and mounted a counter-attack across the country. In the fighting of the next few weeks half a million people are said to have died. This abortive coup is known as the Gestapu Affair. After the failure of the coup, Sukarno's position became untenable, so he had to retire. Huharto has ruled the country ever since, gradually improving the economy, which was dangerously inflationary, by admitting foreign experts to rebuild the means of production. Indonesia is an incredibly rich country. It has everything, from oil and tin to tea and timber, rice and rubber. It can feed itself, in spite of a population increase of four per cent annually. The last Sumatran elephants are having to give way to expanding fields for cultivation. The nation as a whole still needs more schools, more textbooks, more teachers, more colleges, more science and more technicians. At heart the Indonesians are gentle and friendly people, though the majority are still poor. Only the militant Achinese have not been integrated. The proud natives of New Guinea do not wish to be 'Islamized', which is a process that some government officials equate with Indonesianization.
So the government had to send troops to all the districts outside East Java to impose its will by force, so that some people whispered that one bunch of colonialists had replaced another. Sukarno, well known for his anti-Europeanism and his sympathies for the new communist China, became president. He sought to create unity by his slogan: Tanab satu, rakyat satu, bahasa satu (One country, one people, one language!) A vigorous campaign was organized to teach the people the national language and to use it, even at home, instead of Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese and the rest, including Dutch, which many educated people still spoke. This campaign succeeded: today the Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, based on Malay, is spoken on all the islands except in the remote forests of Borneo and New Guinea. In 1972 a final agreement was reached with the Malaysian government, to unify the spelling of the two Bahasas, the two national forms of Malay, which now has well over 200 million speakers, making it the seventh language of the world. Out of this, an entirely new literature arose. Less easy to achieve was the revival of the economy, ruined after years of warfare and Japanese rapaciousness.
One of them perceived the relationship between the Malay, Achinese and Madagascar languages. Gradually the Dutch merchants expanded their power over what was to become Indonesia. They were not interested in conquering land, since the Republic of the Netherlands had no king to conquer for, unlike the Spaniards and Portuguese. The Dutch were determined, however, to protect their commercial interests at sea. They interfered in the wars between local rulers only if their lines of transport and their port facilities were threatened. By so doing however, they had to occupy the Moluccas and most of Java. As Sumatra and Borneo were of only peripheral interest, only the port cities were occupied.This commercial empire ended when Holland was occupied by Napoleon (1795), and Java by Thomas S. Raffles for the British East India Company (1811). After the Napoleonic wars, a series of treaties between the British and Dutch governments settled the numerous claims of both parties, some justified, some less so. In this way, the British acquired all the territories which now form part of Malaysia, although its population is ethnically identical with most of the western Indonesians. On the eastern side, the Netherlands retained western New Guinea, even though its population is ethnically and linguistically completely distinct from the Indonesians. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the Dutch East Indies prospered, becoming one of the richest countries in the world, with the cultivation of coffee (since c.1700), quinine (since 1815), tobacco (since 1863), sugar cane (since 1870), tea, cocoa, rubber, oil palm and groundnuts. The last 20 years of Dutch rule were marked by the evolution of the Indonesian peoples' political consciousness.Modern History After the liberation from the Japanese (late 1945) and the colonialists (late 1949), Indonesia was faced with a task for which the government was ill prepared; keeping the country together. There was no national coherence in a country speaking over 200 languages using 6 alphabets, living on 300 islands, belonging to all the world's great religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and the original local Indonesian religions.
When a local ruler on Sumatera was converted, he would style himself henceforth Sulltan, and the inscriiption on his tomb (many of which can still be seen today) would be composed in Arabic, and later in Malay in Arabic script. In 1511, the Portuguese captain Gomes d'Abreu visited the Moluccas, the first European in Indonesian waters after Marco Polo stayed on Sumatera in 1293. The next Portuguese captain visited Halmahera. He was Magellan (Fernao de Magalhaes), who in 1521 sailed along the Moluccas, having traversed the Great Ocean, which he called Oceano Pacifico (because it was calm then), on his way to the Philippines, where he would later be killed. The Portuguese built a fortress at Termate (1522) near Halmahera and by 1540 had established their authority over the Moluccas (Amboina). Meanwhile, Islam gained ground in many towns of Indonesia, including Jacatra, now Jakarta. Senapati (d.1601) was the last great Hindu king of Java. The next great ruler was Sultan Agung Abudur Rahman, 1613-45, a Muslim. The first explorers to arrive from Holland were the brothers Houtman (1596).
That great expansion may have begun in the second millennium BC.The oldest surviving Indonesian race, the Weddids, are found today in the darkest forests of Sulawest (the Toalas, Tomunas, Tokeas) and in southern Sumatera (official Indonesian spelling of Sumatra) are found the Kubus. From an early date the Indonesian peoples were influenced by the great cultures of India and to a lesser degree, China. Statues of the Buddha have been found in places as far apart as Sumatera and Sulawesi, dating from the third century AD, sculpted in the Indian style. The oldest known inscriptions in Indonesia, found on Borneo and Java, both datable at c.400 AD, are composed in the Sanskrit language. In the seventh century, the Chinese pilgrim I Tsing, on his way to India, praised the high standards of ?Buddhist scholarship in the South-East Asian islands. In that century there existed a kingdom in eastern Sumatera called Sriwijaya (Shri-Vijaya). Further north there was the kingdom of Malayu, with its capital where the city of Jambi now stands. The people of Malayu were great seafarers. They gave their name to the language which they spread to the far corners of the archipelago and to the Malay peninsula, which is named after them. The first inscriptions in an Indonesian language, in a Sanskrit-derived script, are composed in Malay.Great temple complexes were built for the worship of the Hindu god Siwa (Shiva) on the Dieng plateau and in the valley of Prambanan in Java before 900 AD. The splendid Buddhist centre of pilgrimage called Borobudur was built not far from Jogyakarta c.800 AD by the kings of the Shailendra dynasty of Mataram. Learning and literature flourished as the old Javanese language was cultivated, with its own script. Powerful kings ruled Java, bearing Sanskrit names, from Purnavarman, C.415, to Vikramavardhana, 1389-1429, 1,000 years later.By the late Middle Ages, Islam had begun to spread in the Indonesian cities, apparently arriving from India, carried by merchants from Gujerat.
In 1894, Dr Eugene Dubois discovered, on the island of Java, remains of a primate which he named ithecanthropus erectus, the erect apeman, also called Java-man, one of the oldest species of apeman ever found. This find proved that Java was inhabited by some type of human being a million years ago. It is 'only' 50,000 years ago - very roughly - as palaeontologists now assume, that the Australids (the first people to populate Australia) lived in Indonesia, in transit, as it were, from South-East Asia to Australia. Gradually spreading out towards Australia, they were superseded in Indonesia by later arrivals.After them came the 'Proto-Malays', displaying a markedly different appearance from the later Malayo-Polynesians as we know them in western Indonesia, the type normally associated with the Malays. It should be noted that some of the Javanese display features of a yet more advanced human type. It has been said that such Javanese people descend from Indian Brahmins. The Malayo-Javanese brought with them rice and the system of its cultivation: the submergeable field surrounded by a dam, the sawah. Sawahs are the most characteristic aspect of the landscape in South-East Asia. The Malayo-Polynesians were also great seafarers, inventors of the perahu, the sea-worthy canoe which can be fitted with one or two outriggers. With these they sailed to the far corners of two oceans, to Madagascar. Taiwan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Rapanui and New Zealand, where closely related languages are still spoken.
SOJOURN IN THE POLEMBANG RESIDENCY
The chief object of interest in the Passumah Lands is its volcano - the Dempo. Almost daily I explored some part of its vast extent, and when I left I could have profitably spent months more without exhausting its treasures. The village of Pau, in which I had my quarters, was 3500 feet above the sea. The first few hundred feet of the flanks of the mountain were appropriated by the villagers for their coffee gardens, and the few fields in which they now cultivate rice and roots. The coffee-trees, despite their being densely crowded, yielded large crops of a very superior kind of fruit; above these cultivated fields ran a broad belt of low forest consisting of a shrubbery of Fluggea microcarpa and the usual broad-leaved scitamineons plants, in whose damp shade balsams and white-flowered Gesneraceae and hairy-leaved Begonias flourished. About 4000 feet began the virgin forest, which for 2000 feet upwards displayed unrivalled luxuriance. under which grew a tangled mass of shrubs and thorny climbers. Crashing through these, I one day nearly trampled on a fine new species of that curious family, the Rafflesiaceae; it smelt powerfully of putrid flesh, and was infested with a crowd of flies, which followed me all the way as I carried it home, and was besides overrun with ants, not withstanding the long hairs which protected its centre. In the deep shade at this elevation few flowers except from the combers and epiphytes on the trees, such as many species of Melastoma oftener more rich in colour of fruit than of flower, scarlet Aeschynanthes, and occasionally a gorgeous asclepiad. The varied forms and colours of foliage, however, greatly relieved the general want of flowers. From the broad leaves of the Ginger family and the tangled thickets of palms, to the graceful fronds of Alsophila, Cyathea and creeping Davallia, to the pandans and aroids which embrace the tree trunks and clothe the leafless coils of the lianes, there is a perpetual and refreshing variety. Here I found a curious species of Fieus, whose long stem-branches penetrated underground, where the figs w3ere produced with their orifices only above the surface.
Nothing could be finer than many of the crowns of flowers of the giant trees that I was constantly felling. One of these, a species of Styrax (S. subpanieculatum), was a mass of blossom which scented the region of the mountain for days after I felled which scented the region of the mountain for days after I felled it, and often beguiled me aside to admire even its fading beauty.
At 4800 feet I gathered the first ericaceous plants, as climbing shrubs on the tops of the highest trees; and some 500 feet higher the ground was strewed with great blossoms four to five inches in diameter, from the Gordonia excelsa, a giant of the Terastraemaceae, or Tea family. At 6000 feet the region of troublesome and irritating rattans and of Pychosperma palms was passed, and I entered a forest of more slender trees, with still many grand fern-loaded specimens among them, especially belonging to the Myrtle family as their fallen corollas indicated. At 7000 feet, near the half-way camp I had erected, a patch of tall Pandan trees occurred on the sides of a gorge, but nowhere else on the mountain. Here, flitting over the fallen logs, I staled a pretty little brown hill-wren (Pnoepyga pusilla), which started on the slightest motion into a hole or crevice, and when at last wounded it took refuge in a burrow two yards long, whence it had to be dug out. This species was known before only from the Himalayas and Tenasserim till it was discovered in this island on the Padang mountains by Dr. Beccari; but my Dempo specimen was the first that had been seen in England. Besides herds of elephants, an occasional Siamang, and many tigers, mammalian life did show itself on the mountain. The long grey-beard lichens now covering the trees were an indication of the dampness of the atmosphere. Her a red-stemmed Begonia grew in the utmost luxuriance, intermingling with a white species of honeysuckle (much visited by a fine grey-haired humble-bee (Bombus sence), and which together formed a white flower dotted field that accompanied us for more than 700 feet at ascent. At 7700 feet there was a marked decrease in the amount of flowers and fruit that the half-tree, half-shrub vegetation produced, whose foliage, I remarked, was of a more or less crisp and brittle texture. At 8000 feet my eyes were gladdened by the sight of a most lovely orchid epiphytic on the trees, which is apparently the true Dendrobiom secundum; its colour, which could not fail to catch the eye of the most unobservant, was of the deepest purple or mauve-pink, and its bells, suspended by a double-curved petiole of a graceful form, hung in clusters of twelve to fourteen from the tip of the stems. It is impossible of course to describe the colour, but it was of the richest tint; the whole flower was of the same colour, save one bright orange spot in the throat of the labellum. For 200 feet upwards the trees were profusely spangled with them, and it was really worth an arduous climb to see and to gather them. It is surprising to how limited an area some plants are confined. I could find no specimens of this orchid above the narrow zone I have mentioned. At 8200 feet I first gathered the beautiful Rasp (Rubus lineatus), which I obtained on the Malawar mountains in Java at a considerably lower elevation. On the Java mountains, from 6500 to 7000 feet, the abundance of various kinds of Rasps formed a marked feature in the vegetation; here I was struck by their almost entire absence. On the Tengamus in the Lampongs at the same height I had met with no end of Nepenthaceae, and with a beautiful orchid of the genus Cymbidium, but there neither the one nor the other was seen; one small scrap of a pitcher was indeed brought to me from about 6500 feet, but, though I myself and my hunters searched everywhere, we could find no more. Here and there I now found small-leaved scraggy shrubs of a species of Rhododendron (R. maguijlorum) bearing bright scarlet flowers, and every further foot of ascent brought us among dwarfed trees, and leaner and more scraggy shrubs, while the most of stone and stem grew deeper and deeper. At 8600 feet I suddenly emerged on the edge of one of the many gorges which deeply grooved the side of the mountain, and stood clear of the tall forest.
During my progress through the lower zones few insects, but some very interesting forms of birds, had been noticed. Besides the species I have mentioned above, I shot a rare grass warbler (Saya albigularis), previously known only from Sumatra, by one example from Acheen, in the north of the island; and twittering in low bushes a little fly-catcher, not before taken in this island - Culicicaps ceylonensis. At 5000 feet, hopping about on fallen legs, dodging in the low bush tangle, a black chat-thrush (Brachyteryz atratus) with a bright white line over the eye, fell to my gun, which was not my luck in regard to the beautiful Paradise fly-catcher (Terpsyphone affinis) which I saw - a pure white bird with long black-shafted tail-feathers, named by the natives Tjabit Kapan which signifies the white cloth in which the dead are wrapped, as they believe that he by whom it is seen has not long to live.
At 8000 feet the tall forest suddenly ceased, and among my feet I found some splendid ericas of various species, the most conspicuous being that which the natives have named "Tree of the long age" (Kaya panjang umoor), a new species (Vaceiniurm forbesii), and one of the most handsome of its genus. It was first met with as a shrub, low and compact, but 500 feet higher it became a tree with a circumference of four feet. This, with the scarlet rhododendron already mentioned, and many species of ferns, monopolised the mountain up to 9000 feet, where I gathered, with perhaps more satisfaction still, a wee species of Gentian that expanded its blue flowers on the bare earthy banks.
The writer of this letter, whose name was Kartini, was Javanese Regent's daughter, with the title Raden Adjeng. She lived only from 1879-1904, but she had a tremendous influence in her short life. She was the first Javanese lady of high rank to break with the old Mohammedan traditions. She was hungry for education, for herself and for other women, high and low. With her wise father's reluctant agreement, she went to a Dutch school for a few years. She refused to agree to the usual arranged marriage, and eventually married a bridegroom of her own choice. She established a school for girls in her own home, and, after her death, many schools were founded in her name, which is highly honoured in Indonesia today. Princess (or Lady) Kartini's letters were first edited by a former Dutch Minister for Education and Industry in the Netherlands East Indies, in 1911. In 1921 an English edition appeared. The following letter describes a Javanese wedding in high circles: it is her own sister's, and every detail of procedure and decoration is given for the Dutch friend to whom she is writing. In view of the changes which have come with independence and westernization, this letter, and maNy others in the collection, are now valuable historical documents.
You are right. The separation from sister has been a great grief to us, we have been together so long, and so intimately. People were not wrong when they said that we three had grown to be one in thought and in feeling. We cannot realize that sister has really left us, the idea that she has gone away never to return is unbearable. We try to imagine that she is only away on a visit, and will be back some day.
We miss our Kleintje very much. But happiness will not stand still; this will not be the only hard parting, we know that; many others await us in the future.
It is wise from time to time, When a tender strong bond Binds and caresses the poor heart, To rear it asunder with our own hands,
says De Genestet. But it is easier said than done. Do you not find it so? We receive encouraging letters from little sister. She is happy and pleased with her surroundings. That makes us so thankful, her happiness is our happiness. And now I shall try and tell you something of her wedding.
A native marriage entails a heavy burden upon the family of the bride. Days and weeks beforehand, the preparations for the solemnity are begun. Sister's wedding was celebrated very quietly on account of a death in the family. One of our cousins who was a sister of the bridegroom, died shortly before the marriage. Poor creature. She was still such a young thing, and she left little children behind her. You must know that Klentje is married to her own cousin. His mother is father's sister. He was here with us long ago, but then she was only a schoolgirl and no one thought of an engagement; though it has happened that children have been affianced and married, and later, when both were full grown, the marriage would be celebrated over again.
The acquaintance of sister and her husband was renewed when the Governor General was at Semarang. It is not customary among us for young girls ever to leave the house until they follow a strange bridegroom; but as I have already told you, we have broken with many traditions, and can do what others cannot, on account of the unusual freedom of our bringing up, and now we are working to break tradition still further. No Javanese girl must be seen before her marriage; she must remain in the background, usually in her own chamber; and in December we were at Semarang with sister, and she went openly into the shops to buy some things which she wanted.
A Javanese girl receives no good wishes upon her engagement, the subject is not mentioned before her; still less does she mention it herself. She acts just as though she knew nothing of it. I should like to have read the hearts of our fellow country-women when they heard sister speak openly and freely of her coming marriage. A day or two before the wedding, we commemorated our dead. That is our custom: in the midst of joy we always invoke the memory of our dead. There was a sacrificial meal, during which their blessing was asked for the offspring of the coming nuptials. this takes place in the bride's family. My brother-in-law and his family came on the day before the wedding. The first thing that a European bridegroom would do on arriving at the home of his bride, would be to go to her. But among us that would be out of the question. The bridegroom must not see his bride until the knot is tied. Even his family must not see her.
On the day of the wedding, the bride was bathed in a bath of flowers, and after that she was taken in hand by the toekang paes, a woman whose business is the dressing of brides. The bride takes her seat on a cloth that is especially prepared for the occasion, it consists of katoenjes (pieces of cotton and silk) and zidjes, enough for a kabaja (long-sleeved jacket), joined together. This is the property of the toekang paes. At her side are placed sweetmeats besides sirrih, ping nuts, bananas, a jug of water, uncooked rice, a roasted hen, a live hen, and a burning night candle. Incense is burned, and the toekang paes cuts the fine hair from the bride's neck and face, the hair on the forehead is cut, too, even the hair over the ears. And the eye-brows are shaves off with a razor. One can always tell a newly married woman, by the shorn hair across the forehead and ears and by the shaved eyebrows.
At about one o'clock in the day, the toilet of the bride begins. The forehead is covered with soft salve, even to the ears, and the face is whitened, while the hair is dressed in the form of a cap, and ornamented with flowers. On the headdress are seven jewels, fastened upon spirals, which are constantly waving up and down. A gold embroidered kain (a long straight skirt made by wrapping material round the body), and a kabaja of silver gauze, with the usual jewelled ornaments, such as brooches, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and sleeve-buttons, completed her toilet.
In Java, young girls must not wear flowers in the hair, only married women may do that; one often seen very old women going around with flowers in their hair. The evening be4fore the wedding is called widodarenni; widodari means angel, heavenly being. On the last evening of her maidenhood, the girl on the threshold of matrimony is compared to such a heavenly being, and the evening is celebrated. You must have seen the photographs of Javanese wood-work at Mevrouw Rooseboom's, and you may remember the picture of an article of furniture with three doors in front. That is called a kwade, and is used at weddings. A handsome carved kwade, covered with gold figures on a purple ground, was in the great hall at the back of the kaboe-patin (house of Chief of the district). All tables, chairs, and benches were removed from that apartment and the floors were covered with a great alcatief.
On both sides of the kwade, which was draped and ornamented with flowers, stood two large copper vases, filled with young cocoanut leaves and flowers. these vases are called kembeng majang, and must not be broken at a w4edding. At about half-past seven in the evening, when all of the women guests had assembled in the kwade-hall and were ranged on the ground in two rows, one on each side of the kwade, sister came in, led by the hand of our married sister and our sister-in-law, and followed by a woman who carried her sirrihdoos (the box to hold the sirrh paste. Sirrh: betel leaf) and kwispeldoor (a spitting-box; for it is necessary to spit after chewing sirrh. These boxes are often of gold or tortoise-shell, and beautifully ornamented. They are placed by a Javanese lady on all formal as well as informal occasion). Sister sat down in the middle of the room, near her family and the most prominent guests. The sirrihdoos and the kwispledoor were placed next to her only as a matter of form, for Klentje eats no sirrih, behind her, a little girl waved a koelite.
Sister sat with crossed legs before the gold shining kwade, motionless as an image of Buddha, between the gravely dressed, solemn-looking wives of the native dignitaries, equal in rank to her husband. Tea and cakes were served, every one took a cup of tea and several kinds of small pastries. The bride and the most distinguished guests each had an individual tea-service, and a tray of pastries. It was as though a whole carpet of pastries were spread out before the guests, here and there broken by sirrih-doozen and kwispeldoors of gold and tortoise-shell, of wood, of silver. The company was composed entirely of married women. We unmarried ones were not there.
You have certainly heard that among the Javanese it is a great misfortune for a woman to remain unmarried. It is a disgrace as well. Not so long ago, in enlightened Europe it was looked upon in the same way; is not that true" So we must not think ill of the foolish uncivilized Indians. If the bridegroom has a mother, on this evening she must be at the feast of her daughter-in-law-to-be. Our masculine guests ate with father in the pendopo, while the bridegroom stayed at home in his lodgings. Sister was so glad when, at half-past nine, the ceremonial was over, so far as she was concerned. She walked decorously and sedately from the hall, through the throng of women sitting around, but as soon as she was out of sight, and safe in our room all the formality was gone. She was again our little sister, our dear happy Kleintje, and no Buddha image. That evening was sacred to the Prophet. In the mosque there was a great slamatan (sacrificial meal, celebrated with prayers); the blessing of heaven was asked upon the approaching marriage.
At the meal, only men were present, our women guests, even the regents' wives who had come to sister's wedding, are at home with us. Early the next morning, there was a stir in the kaboepatin. It looked quite gay, with its decorations of greens and flags. Outside on the highway, there was bustle and noise. The tricolour waved merrily among the rustling young cocoanut trees that bordered the road which led to the house of the bridegroom. In the green covered paselhuisen, two little houses on the aloenaloen before the kaboeipatin, the gamelan played lustily. We were on the back gallery, where stood baskets of kamangas, tjempakas, and melaties. Women's hands were arranging the flowers into garlands, or suspending them on little swings, or gearing he blossoms from the leaves, so that they could be strewn in the way of the bridal pair wherever they might go. The kaboepatin was filled with gamelan music (music of Javanese orchestra) and the perfume of flowers. Bush people walked to and fro. In our room, the toilet of the bride was begun. Her forehead had been painted dark before, now it was decorated with little golden figures.
Sister lay down during he operation. Behind the figures there were two boarders fastened to the hair - a dark one behind the gold, into this, jewelled knobs were stuck. With other brides the boarder-work is made of their own hair; but for sister we had a false piece set in, because the elaborate process is painful, and the poor child had just recovered from a fever. Above the border-work came a golden diadem, and her hair at the back of the head was dressed like a half-moon and filled with flowers, from that, a veil of melati (Jasmine flowers) with a border of flowers fell, and reached to her shoulders. Her head was gain surmounted by the seven jewels glittering on their spirals. Behind these, there was a jewelled flower, from which hung six chains of real flowers, suspended behind the ears, over the breast, and down to the waist. These chains, which were about as thick as one's fingers, were made of white flowers linked together with little bands of gold and ending in a round knob which was struck full of melati flowers.
Her wajang costume was decollete in front, so that neck, face and arms were entirely uncovered. all that was visible of sister except the face, which was whitened, was covered with a fragrant salve. She wore a gold embroidered kain, over which there was a drapery of gold woven silk, th3e whole was held up by a sash of yellow with long hanging ends of red silk painted with figures of gold. A dark green sash, growing lighter till it was pale green in the centre, was bound around the upper part of her body. Little glints of gold showed delightfully through this. Her arms and shoulders were left entirely free. The yellow girdle around her waist was called mendologirl. Sister wore one of gold, three fingers broad and ornamented with jewels, garlands of flowers, with hanging ends, were fastened to it, reaching from behind one hip to the other. Around her neck, she wore a collar, with three wing-shaped ornaments hanging down over her breast and almost to her waist. There were bracelets on her wrists and on the upper part of her arms, shaped like serpents with upraised tails and heads, golden chains dangled from these.
It was between three and four o'clock in the afternoon. In the kwade-hall the wives of the native nobles assembled in gala attire. From the kwade to the pendopo there was a carpet of flowers, over which the bridal pair must walk. the bride was led forward by her sister and took her place before the kwade. The lights were already lighted in the pendopo, the regents stood assembled in official costumes, and there were a few European acquaintances who were anxious to see sister for the last time as a maiden. In the aloen-aloean, and all outside the kaboepatin, it was dark with people, only the road which was decorated with flags and green leaves remained free. A streak of yellow fould be seen in the distance, it drew nearer, till there appeared a train of open gold-striped parasols (ipajoengs), under which the native officials walk on great occasions. It was the retinue which preceded the bridegroom, who, with the other regents, was in an open carriage, which was covered with a glittering golden parasol. Gamelan music sounded from the pasebans and the kaboepatin, to greet the approaching procession.
It reached the daboepatin and halted at the door of the pendopo. the whole company squatted down, the bridegroom got out of the carriage, and was led forward by two unmarried regents. They went into the pendopo, and all three knelt down in the middle of the room to do homage to father and other regents. The two regents moved back, still on their knees, and left the bridegrooms alone in the middle of the pendopo. the chiefs formed a circle around him, within which there was a smaller circle of priests. Father sat at the head of the regents, and the High Priest who was to perform the ceremony next to the bridegroom. Father announced to those present the reason for the calling of this assembly, and said that he now sought the assistance of the High Priest to bind the daughter in marriage to the bridegroom From the crowd of people in the pendopo there arose a mystic buzzing noise. They were praying.
I was so sorry that I could not be near enough to hear. A teacher who is a friend of ours, sister Roekmini, and I were the only women in the pendopo, which was filled with men. But we were very glad to be allowed there at all, and to have that much freedom granted us. It would not have been seemly for us to appear among a crowd of men during the celebration of a marriage ceremony. It was a pity, as we should have been glad to hear the betrothal formulas. We could only see that during he betrothal service the Priest held fast to the hand of the bridegroom, who had to respond after him. The solemnity lasted a quarter of an hour or most, but we did not have a watch with minutes, so we could not tell exactly. It was impressive and still in the pendopo, not a sound could be heard save the mystic droning of the priest. There was a stir among the crowd of men, and the priests rose from their knees. The ceremony was over. The regents stood up, two of them lifted up the bridegroom, and now they started off over the carpet of flowers, followed by the most prominent regents. Back in the kwade-hall, the bride was raised up by her sisters, and, supported by them, she too started down the road of flowers, followed by Mamma and all the women guests. As the bride and bridegroom came within a few steps of each other, those who were leading them fell back, and the bridal pair gave, each to the other, a rolled up sirrh-leaf filled with flowers. They took a few steps nearer, and then both knelt down and with them the whole company.
The bridegroom sat, on her knees, the bride moved nearer to him and made a sembah, both hands held together and brought down under the nose, that is our mark of reverence. Then she kissed his right knee. Again the bride made a sembah. The bridegroom rose and raised his wife, and hand in hand the young pair walked over the carpet of flowers to the kwade, followed by the whole company except the regents, who turned back to the pendop. Bride and bridegroom sat before the kwade like two images of Buddha, the family and the lady guests thronged around them. Behind the bridal pair sat two little girls waiting their koeltes to and fro. In most cases, husband and wife see each other for the first time at this ceremony. At the stoke of half-past seven the regents came back, and formed a half-circle on the ground around the bridal pair, the women of their families formed the other half of the circle. The bride and bridegroom saluted the older relatives with the foot-kiss.
The bride first raised herself on her knees and shuffled forward toward Mamma; she made a sambah and kissed Mamma's knee, to beg her mother's blessing on her marriage. From Manna, sister went to the aunts, sisters, and cousins - too all those who were oder than she - and went through with the same ceremony. Then she went to Father and kissed his knee, in order to receive his blessing; from him she went to her father-in-law; after that to her uncles and cousins. When she had finished kissing the feet of all and had returned again to her place, the bridegroom began the foot-kiss journey. He followed the example of his wife. When he had completed this ceremony, the regents went out, and tea and pastry were served as on the evening before. At half-past eight bride and bridegroom departed. Hand in hand they left the hall. Usually they must go out on their knees, but as both of them had just recovered from illness, they were allowed to walk. In other families the bridegroom must creep up the steps instead of walking, on coming to the house of his parents-in-law, before he pays his respects to the ladies of the family; this is the perfection of good manners.
The bridegroom went to the bridal chamber, and sister to our room, where we dressed her for the reception to Europeans. Her bridal toilet, which had been the work of a whole day, was undone in five minutes. Only the headdress and the decorations on her forehead were left unchanged. We young girls ought not to have dressed her alone, but we did it just the same. We thought that is was entirely too stupid for us not to be allowed to touch sister in her bridal toilet. Sister now put on a kain of silk interwoven with gold, and a kabaja of ivory-coloured satin with silver embroidery. she wore another jewelled collar, the jewelled flowers in her hair and the diadem were taken off. In their stead she wore a golden crown from which hung a veil. On her head jewelled flowers on spirals were fastened. So veiled and crowned, it was as though she had stepped from a page of the Thousand and One Nights. Sister looked like one of the fairy princesses. The costume was very becoming to her. What a pity that she could not have been photographed in it!
The bridegroom appeared in his official dress. Again the bridal pair sat before the kwade. At eight o'clock, they went arm in arm to the front gallery, where two gilded settees stood ready for them before a background of palms. They received the good wishes of the European ladies and gentlemen, standing. It was called a reception, but at the sound of the music, the dance-crazy feet turned toward the empty pendopo; bride and bridegroom both took a few turns around the pendopo. It is not customary for young girls to appear at a wedding, but it would have been foolish for us to remain away from sister's feast. It was not yet twelve o'clock, when the Resident, who was among the guests, toasted the young pair, his speech was answered by Father. Soon after the European guests took their leave, all but the Resident and a few others, among them a lady who is an intimate friend of ours. They remained for the native part of the feast.
After the departure of the European guests, the native nobles who had absented themselves from the pendopo during the reception, came in and formed a half-circle before with the bridegroom must give a proof of his proficiency in dancing. The regents as well as the other chiefs had meanwhile dressed in more informal costume. The gamelan played; a dancing-girl entered and began to dance. The Patih of Japara brought, on his knees, a silver waiter to the bridegroom, on which there was a silken cloth. When the bridegroom had taken the cloth, the Patih fell back. Soft gamelan tones again sounded, it was a prelude, an invitation to the hero of the day to open the feast. The bridegroom rose and went to the middle of the pendopo, be fastened the silken cloth around him and named his favourite air to the gamelan players. The gongs chimed, it was immediately stuck up.
I shall not attempt to describe this dance, my pen is inadequate. I shall only say that it was a joy to the eyes to follow the beautiful gamelan music. Behind him danced the dancing-girl, also singing. The circle of native dignitaries accompanied the music by singing and beating their hands together. Toward the end of the dance the Resident went forward with two glasses of champagne. The gong sounded, and both dancers fell upon their knees. With a sambah the bridegroom accepted a glass from the Resident. He rank it and the Resident emptied his at the same time amid joyful gamelan tones and sounds of general mirth. A servant took the empty glasses, and the Resident fell back. The bridegroom stood up and again began to dance. Now his father-in-law brought him a health of drink; dancing , they advanced to meet each other, and in the sound of the gong, the young man knelt down to receive the wine-glass from the hand of the older one. After a health had been brought to him by all the regents present, he left them and went back to sit by the side of his wife. Soon after that the bridal pair left the assembly; the European guests went home, but the feast was kept up till early in the morning. The European gentlemen had danced too, and our Assistant Resident acquitted himself excellently. Mamma, our friend, sister roekmini, and I stayed till the last European guest had gone. The next day there was quiet in the house. In the afternoon the last ceremony took place. That is the first visit of the bridal pair to the parents of the groom. It is called in Javanes ngoendob mantoe, which literally translated, means "daughter-in-law plucking!" The daughter-in-law is compared to a flower which her husband's parents will pluck.
For this occasion both bride and groom should again put on their bridal costume, but that would have been much too wearisome, so the groom was dressed as usual and sister wore a kain interwoven with gold, and a silk jabaja, her hair was dressed in the form of a cap, and on her head was a small ehath in the shape of a cross, which was filled with flowers, and over the whole was a network of melati blossoms, and again the jewelled spirals waved to and fro above her head. The bridal pair went in a procession, followed by the natige chiefs on foot, to the house where the father of the bridegroom lodged. Days and weeks after the wedding the newly married pair are still called bride and bridegroom. The bride is a bride until she becomes a mother. There are women, mothers, who all their lives are called nganten, short for penganten, which means bride and also bridegroom. The day after the ceremony was spent in receiving visits from both Europeans and natives. Five days later there was again a feast in the kaboepatin, the first return of the holy day which had opened the wedding ceremonies was celebrated.
The young couple left a week after the wedding, they were feted everywhere by various family connections with whom they stopped on their journey home. At Tegal the marriage was celebrated all over again, they remained there a week, and finally they reached their own home at Pemalang. There, you have a description of a Javanese wedding in high circles. Sister's marriage was called only a quiet affair, and yet it entailed all that ceremony. What must a wedding be that is celebrated in a gala way?
We were dead tired after the wedding.
The Javanese give presents at a marriage, things to wear, such as kains, stomachers, headdresses, silk for kabajas, cloth for jackets, and also things to eat, such as rive, eggs, chickens, or a buffalo. These are merely meant as marks of good-will. Kardinah also received a splendid bull from an uncle. This had to be placed on exhibition with the other presents! When a buffalo is killed at the time of a wedding - and usually more than one is needed for the feast meals - a bamboo vessel filled with sirrih, little cakes, pinang nuts, and pieces of meat must be mixed with the running blood of the slaughtered buffalo. These vessels, covered with flowers, are laid at all of the cross-roads, bridges, and wells on the estate, as an offering to the spirits who dwell there. If these bridge, road, and water spirits are not propitiated, they will be offended at the festivities, and misfortune will come of it. That is the belief of the people. Its origin I do not know. A friend of ours says rightly that the Javanese are a people who are filled with legends and superstition. Who shall lead the people out of the dusky realm of fairy tales into the light of work and reality? And then, when superstition is cast off, we do not want the poetry to be trampled under foot.
-----From Letters of a Javanese Princess (1921)