We went for a becak-ride (rickshaw) to visit the STSI Arts Academy Surakarta and, enjoyed some excellent rehearsal of young students. After a chat they were so kind to invite us for some more demonstrations though, time killed us and we could not put in our appearance ... alas!
When lucky watch the beautiful S'rimpi-dances. Original created in the Surakarta Hadiningrat-court it is allowed to reconstruct these outside, like the fascinating Beksan Serimpi Gandakusuma.
Decadence is not that unfamiliar to the Solonese Kraton family. Rumors about the Raja's womanizing and extravagances were rampant. Until, during the night of 1 January 1985, catastrophe struck when the main core of the Kraton, the Dalam Gede (with all its priceless wood architecture and furniture) caught fire. What followed was a comic tragedy. Fire engines, which could have easily doused the fire, responded quickly but couldn't fit through the main gate. Since the gate was sacred, a powerful symbol of authority, the firemen refused to smash it down and consequently 60% (!) of the Palace burned to the ground.
An elaborate ceremony of appeasement was performed, in which the head of a tiger, a buffalo, a deer, and a snake were buried, and 30 truckloads of ashes were returned to the Southern Sea, the Domain of Ratu Kidul, from whence they came! Refreshed black sand of the Parangtritis beach got taken back for the inner court around the Pendapa (open front hall to receive guests).
One antique building of great interest which survived the fire is the multi-storied minaret, Panggung Songgo Buwono, seen over the wall in the NE corner of the courtyard. According to an ancient legend, it was used by the Rajas of Surakarta as a trysting place with Nyai Loro Kidul ...
Ornate European-style decorations were later added by donations, included old Ming-Dynasty chandeliers, Dutch pillars, Delft's Blue, old Italian statues ...
Gamelan is not an ordinary music-band and contains an exquisite ensemble of metal percussion instruments from Indonesia. See the court-gamelan and the handcrafted gongs and metallophones using bronze, brass and iron, all set on beautiful hand-carved wooden frames.
Gamelan is an excellent and wonderful way to educate music and, it is said anyone can play the gamelan ... mmmh, donot know about that! Go for Bekonang Village in Kab. Sukoharjo (10 km from Solo) for gamelan instruments.
When you want to mail or checking your mails find a WARNET!
WARNET, an splendid word for the Internet, but in the Indonesian language it stands for WAR-ung inter-NET (or small shop for the Internet); WARTEL stands for WAR-ung TEL-ephone.
The Internet is everywhere for you available on Java. So you can send your E-mails and continue to trade whenever its suits you! So no laptop required! Next to the entrance of the Hadiningrat Kraton is Wartel, probably a Warnet today, and at Jl. Slamet Riyadi 534 ...
The Solonese Palace has several names: Kesuhunan Palace - Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat - Surakarta Kraton - Kraton Hadiningrat - Surakarta Hadiningrat. Its ruler is the Susuhanan, means "Royal Foot Placed On The Head Of Vassals Paying Homage (ingkang sinoehoen)", a title dating from the conquering King/Sultan Agung of Mataram who reigned in the 1600's, and a title for Mohammedan Wali's, the "Holy Bringers of the Islam" to Java.
Accompanied by a good friend I got to the backyard of the Hadiningrat Palace and had a nice talk with the office-people there, all related to the Susuhunan, and explaining a lot about the Palace ... great experience!