Monday, February 28, 2011

Purworejo, My Childhood City

Van Laar Junction (Tugu PKK). Its named after Van Laar, because of once there's a Hotel near there named
Van Laar 
The cloudy sky this evening make my mind remember about the sky in my childhood city, Purworejo. I was in Purworejo from 1991(whan I was born, hehe) until 1996. But the memories was so strong in my mind, especially whan my mom’s took me to that city last years to accompany her to visiting her friends in SMP Negeri 1 Purworejo, well that junior high school was her past work place. So, I’m gonna tell y’all about the stories of my childhood city.

Purworejo Train Station
The history of Purworejo when I search in is firstly known as the part of Ancient-Mataram Kingdom based on Kayu Ara Hiwang inscriptions found in the village of Boro Wetan (Subdistrict of Banyuurip), if converted to the Gregorian calendar is dated October 5th, 901 AD, showed that its has been a settlement before that date. Bujangga Manik a Pakuan Kingdom(ancient kingdom in West Java)voyager, on his journey allegedly that he pass through this area on his way home from Bali to Pakuan,. The Journey is at 15th century.

In the Sultanate of Mataram until the 19th century it is probably better known as Bagelen Well, currently Bagelen even just a subdistrict in the district and it has a big market called pasar bagelen, a famous market on that region. I’m still remember when I was child I’ve a friends who coming from that region.

The Town Square of Purworejo, its could be seen
in the distance the GPIB church, ones of the old
building landmarks in Purworejo
After the Duchy of Bagelen submitted his mastery to the Dutch East Indies by the Sultanate of Yogyakarta (due to the Diponegoro War), the region is merged into the residency of Kedu and become district. The Dutch Government under Van Den Bosch (the Governoor-General) built a new settlement, named Purworejo as a center of government (until now) with the Dutch town planning design engineer, while still taking the elements of Javanese tradition. This new city is a city of military barracks, and a number of Dutch troops from the Gold Coast (now Ghana), West Africa, known as Black Dutch settlements centered here.Its interesting that there were a large settlement of Dutch Negro Corps in Purworejo. The people aways call them as belanda hitam or translate as Black Dutchman. But until now, I cant find the rest of them, maybe they just leave for a long time, but to comemmorating the settlement there was a street named, jalan afrika (eng:africa st) in the region that in the past is become the settlement of this belanda hitam.

Well, the old city must have an old building too. When I’ve my trip there, some old buildings are still well maintained and stylish Indisch used up to now, such as the military complex near Ksatrian (my family past residence), masjid Jami 'Purworejo (dated 1834), housing regent, and the church beside my childhood kindergaten, the GPIB church. My city also become the birthplace of the famous people like, Jan Toorop (Famous Dutch Artist) A.J.G.H. Kostermans (Botanical expert), Johan Hendrik Caspar Kern ( Dutch Linguistic expert), Oerip Soemohardjo (Independence Heroes), and so on. Wish I could be as famous as them. Every javanesse city has its own square in the middle of cities. Also in Purworejo, it has a square, covering an area of 6 hectares, and is reputedly the largest in Java. Well, I really missed my childhood city, so bad.
Bedug Pendowo, finished in 1840 and was the largest bedug
 in Central Java in the past

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The NILLMIJ Building, The First Modern-Style Buliding in Semarang

The office of Nederlandsch-Indische Levensverzekering en Lijfrente Maatschappij (NILLMIJ) in 1920.
(source: tropenmuseum)
Yesterday, my Friends, who coming from outside Semarang city and have studied here said, ‘I love this city very much”. When I asked why? He just replied that He felt such an unique atmosphere that he dont get it in his hometown, thats the power of acculturation, the blended between the old and modern. Well, that was totaly true. I also really love this city and the stories inside this city. Like here, in Kota Lama (old town) and its surrounding are interested to be investigated, hehe…though i’m not an professional historian, but i’ve tried to seek an information about the building in Kota Lama, even the building itself its already changed or broken down.

(source: skycrapecity)
So, now i’m gonna share about the first modern-architecture bilding that bulit in the Semarang city, that is the NILLMIJ Building or now known as Gedung Jiwasraya . At that time, in the early of 1910’s, there is a changed of building style, from indisch architecture into tropic-artdeco style architecture. The Office of NILLMIJ (Nederlandsch Indische Leven Sverzeking De Lifrente Maatschappij) is the first building in Semarang that built by its tropic-artdeco style architecture. Built by architect named Thomas Karsten (famous architect at that time) in 1916's.The buliding built in the front face of Koepelskerk (Blenduk Church), and Parade’s plein (Srigunting Park).

The NILLMIJ building has a typical of tropical-artdeco architecture with a small dome in the middle of the roof of the building. The building was symmetrical with the entrance located in the middle. If we observe closely, this building not facing the highway, but the oblique facing the Koepelskerk and Paradesplein, its just because karsten want to get the impression that this building oversee both the building (the church and park). The building was the first building in Semarang city with concrete material to form it, so its also one of the reason that this is the first modern-style buliding, beside viewed from its architectural design. Here's also the first building who using lift in Dutch-Indie.

The NILLMIJ or now known as Asuransi Jiwasraya
building taken from the north side.
Following the nationaization of the colonial assets, the building become the ofice of PT.Asuransi Jiwasraya after the Independence of Indonesia around 50's decades, but its still preserve as the first time been built. The open space in the front without wall, and open corridor in the form of a window, adorn the entire front facade of the building with the amount of 8 windows in each building wing, 4 windows at ground floor and 4 windows on the first floor. The window is protected cantilever to reduce incoming sunlight into the room. Above each window there is a big bouven with ornaments in the form of concrete orders. In front of the building there’s an open space in front of the bulding and there is a small park to reduce the harsh impression on the landscape surround it.

In 2002 the renovation of repairs and repainting damaged walls to make this building looks more clean and beautiful. Its already more than 90 years, but the building still strong existed in the old town, and become the eyewitness about the journey of insurance bussiness in Semarang city.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The History of Pecinan (Chinatown) of Semarang

Klenteng Tay Kak Sie, the oldest confucian temple in the chinatown of Semarang.
The Chinese and Semarang city, have a good relation for a hundred years ago. Since, the Semarang city is the main harbour for Demak Kingdom, so many of foreign traders come to this city, like arabic, chinese, and Indian. The story of the chinese in Semarang firstly note on the history since the crew of Admiral zheng he great voyages, are brethed in Semarang due to linked the trade relations between chinese and the kingdoms in Java Island. Then they made a settlement around Simongan completed with mosque and shrine. Many people believe, this was the first chinese region in Semarang.

The Chinese English School, now is used by SMAN 5
Semarang. (source:
The relationship between the Chinese and the native people was good, until they cooperate to revolts againts the dutch in 1740. Since the dutch controlling the trade in Indonesia, many chinese and native people have difficulties to trade. Then the excalation become high in the city of Batavia (Jakarta), because of was the fear in the highest ranks of the VOC (Veerenidge Ost Compagnie, the dutch trade company) prevailed for some time that the continuous uprising unemployed Chinese workers on the sugar plantations in the districts of Batavia might spread to large groups of more affluent and better-organized Chinese traders and artisans within the walls of the city.

The Chinesse start to attacking the military post of VOC, helped by the native, the Batavia become so chaos. Fear of the condition become worst, The Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier, ordered mass killing in the village outskirt of Batavia. At least 10.000 people died in Batavia. The clashes eventually spread out especially in major cities in Java Island like, Semarang, Cheribon, Surabaya, Rembang, and so on.  The rebels are retreated from Batavia, runs out to the east, and they burnt and attacked every Dutch post and plantation. Lack of organization and weapons, finaly the Dutch could defeated it. They stregthen their post and fortrees along the north coast of Java. The Dutch also separated the settlements of native and chinesse. Then,  the separation of the Chinese and the Native begun.

The chinese funeral ceremony in Candi, Semarang taken
on 1904. (source: tropenmuseum)
The Chinese people become centered in one region, called pecinan (Chinese quarter), maybe it will be looks like the concentration camp at that moment. Also in Semarang, that situated in the banks of Semarang river, now we know as pecinan (chinese quarter). The VOC controlled the pecinan of semarang with the patrol of the cavalry every nite, through the banks of the river that surrounded the neigborhood, then now we known as jalan inspeksi (eng: inspection street). The chinesse couldnt leave the neigborhood without a permission. So, the living of chinesse people in Semarang at that time just concentrated on there, so they built school, market, crematorium, and temple to support their daily. Many of them are still existed nowadays like pasar senggol(market), tay kak sie temple, . Then after the VOC bankrupt and the Indonesia directly become the colony of the Dutch in 1799, many chinese heve a good relation with the government, and the culmination was the Dutch government allowed the chinesse to residence outside the chinesse quarter in the middle of 19 century. Since that moment a lot of building in the neigborhood become abandoned or torned down.