A VISIT TO JAVA
WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE FOUNDING OF SINGAPORE
W. BASIL WORSFOLD.
LONDON: RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON, Publishers in Ordinary to her Majesty the Queen. 1893. (All rights reserved.)
In writing these pages I have had before me a double purpose. First, to present to the general reader an account of what seemed to me to be a singularly interesting country, and one which, while being comparatively little known, has yet certain direct claims upon the attention of Englishmen. Secondly, to provide a book which, without being a guide book, would at the same time give information practically useful to the English and Australian traveller.
In sending this book to the press I have to acknowledge the courtesy of the editors of the Field and of Land and Water. To the former I am indebted for permission to make use of an unusually interesting quotation from Mr. Charles Ledger's letter to the Field on the subject of cinchona introduction, and also to include a short article of my own on "Horse-racing in Java" in Chapter XII. The latter has kindly allowed me to reproduce an account of my visit to the Buitenzorg Gardens, published in Land and Water.
My general indebtedness to standard works, such as Raffles' "Java," and Mr. Wallace's "Malay Archipelago," and also to those gentlemen who, like Dr. Treub, most kindly placed their information at my disposal in Java, is, I hope, sufficiently expressed in the text.
Professor Rhys Davids has very kindly read over the proof sheets of the chapter on the Hindu Temples; and I take this opportunity of acknowledging my sense of his courtesy in so doing, and my indebtedness to him for several valuable suggestions.
The spelling of the Javanese names and words has been a matter of some difficulty. The principle I have finally adopted is this. While adopting the Dutch spelling for the names of places and in descriptions of the natives, and thus preserving the forms which the traveller will find in railway time tables and in the Dutch accounts of the island, I have returned to the English spelling in narrative passages, and in those chapters where the reader is brought into contact with previous English works. But I have found it impossible to avoid occasional inconsistencies. In my account of the literature of the island I have kept to the Dutch titles of Javanese works as closely as possible; but I have modified the transliteration in accordance with the usages of English oriental scholars.
W. B. W.
1, Pump Court, Temple, E.C., November, 1892.
CHAPTER I. PAGE HISTORICAL ACCOUNT UP TO THE PRESENT DAY.
Hindus—Mohammedans—Portuguese—English—Dutch— Legal basis of Dutch possession—British occupation—Return of Dutch—Culture system— Eruption of Mount Krakatoa 1
TRAVELLING AND HOTELS.
Area—Climate—Permission to travel—Chief objects of interest—Means of locomotion—Language—Hotels 17
THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT AND THE NATIVES.
Dutch possessions in the East—Government—Army and navy—Administration—Development of natives—Raden Saleh—Native dress—Cooking and houses—Rice cultivation—Amusements—Marriage ceremony 38
Tanjong Priok—Sadoes—Batavia—Business quarter—Telephoning—Chinese Campong—Weltevreden— Waterloo Plain—Peter Elberfeld's house—Raffles and Singapore 62
THE HINDU TEMPLES.
The temple remains generally—The connection between Buddha and Brahma—The Boro-Boedoer—Loro-Jonggrang 86
ANNEX: The Routes to the Temples 100
Batavian heat—To Buitenzorg by rail—Buitenzorg— Kotta Batoe—Buffalo—Sawah land—Sketching a Javan cottage 103
THE BOTANICAL GARDENS.
History of the Buitenzorg gardens—Teysmann— Scheffer—Three separate branches—Horticultural garden—Mountain garden—Botanical garden— Dr. Treub—Lady Raffles' monument—Pandanus with aerial roots—Cyrtostachys renda—Stelecho-karpus— Urostigma—Brazilian palms—Laboratories and offices—Number of men employed—Scientific strangers 117
FROM BUITENZORG TO TJI WANGI.
View of Mount Salak—Railway travelling in Java— Soekaboemi—No coolies—A long walk—Making a pikulan—Forest path—Tji Wangi at last 134
THE CULTURE SYSTEM.
Financial system previous to the British occupation— Raffles' changes—Return of the Dutch—Financial policy—Van den Bosch Governor-general—Introduction of the culture system—Its application to sugar—To other industries—Financial results of the system— Its abandonment—Reasons of this—Present condition of trade in Java—Financial outlook 147
ON A COFFEE PLANTATION.
The Tji Wangi bungalow—Coffee plantations— Cinchona—Native labour—A wayang—Country-bred ponies—Bob and the ducks—Loneliness of a planter's life 169
ANIMAL AND PLANT LIFE.
Mr. Wallace and the Malay Archipelago—Animals— Birds—General characteristics of plants—European flora in mountains—Darwin's explanation—Fruits— History of cinchona introduction—Mr. Ledger's story—Indiarubber 186
Dutch society in the East—Batavian etiquette— English residents—Clubs—Harmonie—Concordia— Lawn-tennis—Planters—Horse-racing 207
THE HINDU JAVANESE LITERATURE.
The Hindu Javanese literature concerned with the past—Javanese alphabet—Extent of Javanese works— Kavi dialect—Krama and Ngoko—The Mahabharata and the Ramayana in Kavi—Native Kavi works—The Arjuna Vivaya—The Bharata Yuddha—Episode of Salya and Satiavati—Ethical poems—The Paniti Sastra— Localization of Hindu mythology in Java 223
WORKS OF THE MOHAMMEDAN PERIOD.
Uncertainty about the history of the Hindu kingdoms given by the chronicles—Character of the babad, or chronicle—Its historical value—Brumund's treatment of the babads—Account of the babad "Mangku Nagara"— Prose works—The Niti Praja—The Surya Ngalam— Romances—The Johar Manikam—Dramatic works—The Panjis—Wayang plays—Arabic works and influence—The theatre—The wayang 241
Batavia and Singapore—Raffles' arrival in the East— Determines to oppose the Dutch supremacy in the Archipelago—Occupation of Java—Is knighted—Returns from England—Foundation of Singapore—Uncertainty whether the settlement would be maintained—His death—Description of Singapore—Epilogue 263
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
MOUNT SALAK, FROM THE HOTEL BELLE VUE, AT BUITENZORG Frontispiece
A JAVANESE ACTRESS vi
MOHAMMEDAN ARMOUR xii
A PORTUGUESE HOUSE, BATAVIA To face 6
CHINESE BARBER 37
PALACE OF A NATIVE PRINCE To face 43
WOMAN COOKING RICE. KOMPOR " 51
A BULLOCK CART " 54
A SAWAH PLOUGH 61
THE KING'S PLAIN, BATAVIA To face 67
BRIDGE LEADING TO THE PAZER BAROE, BATAVIA " 70
THE WATERLOO PLAIN, BATAVIA " 78
SKETCH MAP OF JAVA " 89
SECTION AND GROUND PLAN OF THE BORO-BOEDOER TEMPLE " 94
A JAVANESE COTTAGE " 114
NATIVES SQUATTING 116
A HAPPY CELESTIAL 133
A PRODUCE MILL To face 156
ROSAMALA TREES " 170
WOMEN BARKING CINCHONA 176
A DALANG To face 179
COFFEE BERRIES 185
A WAYANG FIGURE 262
THE ESPLANADE, SINGAPORE To face 264
THE CAVANAGH BRIDGE, SINGAPORE " 282
HISTORICAL ACCOUNT UP TO THE PRESENT DAY.
Hindus—Mohammedans—Portuguese—English—Dutch— Legal basis of Dutch possession—British occupation— Return of Dutch—Culture system—Eruption of Mount Krakatoa.
In the centre of that region of countless islands termed not inaptly the "Summer of the World," midmost of the Sunda group of which Sumatra lies to the west, and Flores to the east, with the fury of the tropical sun tempered by a physical formation which especially exposes it to the cooling influence of the ocean, lies the island of Java. Rich in historic remains of a bygone Hindu supremacy, when the mild countenance of Buddha gazed upon obedient multitudes, in memorials of Mohammedan, Portuguese, and Dutch seafaring enterprises, it is a country singularly alluring to the student and antiquarian. Nor is its present life less interesting. Densely populated by a simple and refined native race, who live for the most part in the midst of mountain glories and tropical verdure, itself the best example of a rival and successful system of colonization, modern Java is no mere tourist's country, but one which possesses, and always has possessed, special attractions for the man of science and the political student.
From an immense mass of native tradition the main outlines of the history of the island can be disentangled with sufficient certainty.
Javanese tradition universally speaks of a personage called Saka, variously termed warrior, priest, and god, to whom is attributed the introduction of the arts of civilization, and whose advent marks the opening year of the native chronology. The first year of Saka corresponds to the seventy-eighth of the Christian era. There can be no doubt as to the region from which this extraneous civilization came. Native tradition and the vast religious monuments of the eastern and central districts alike point to an Indian colonization and supremacy; for the temples of Java bear the stamp of a culture and of an artistic and architectural genius superior to that possessed by a race, the sole record of whose national existence is contained in the meagre tradition of an immigration from the western lands about the Red Sea.
Sir Stamford Raffles, in his exhaustive history of Java, gives the names and dates of the Hindu monarchs, with an account of their conquests and administrations. But the native chronicles require to be carefully sifted, and to be supported by the record of the antiquarian remains, which supply an unfailing basis for, at any rate, the main outlines of the period. The oldest inscriptions are found on the west side of Buitenzorg, on river stones, and at Bekasi, on the east side of Batavia; they are written in Sanskrit characters of the oldest period, and, by comparison with the inscriptions of British India, indicate the existence of Hindu civilization in Java during the fourth and fifth centuries after Christ. The oldest dated inscription in Java (and in the Archipelago) is one bearing date 654 of Saka (A.D. 732). This is now in the museum at Batavia. It contains twelve verses in the Sanskrit tongue, and is about four feet in length by two in width, and about ten inches in depth.
The magnificent temple of Boro-Boedoer, of which Mr. Wallace says, "The amount of human labour and skill expended on the Great Pyramid of Egypt sinks into insignificance when compared with that required to complete this sculptured hill temple in the interior of Java," and which will be separately described with the other religious monuments, was probably erected in the eighth or ninth century. It marks the highest point in the Hindu supremacy, and the time when the influence of Buddhism was supreme. At any rate, we have the witness of Fa Hian, a Chinese traveller, who visited the island in the fifteenth century, to the effect that at this later period "the Brahmins were still very numerous, but the law of Buddha was no longer respected."
[Footnote 1: "Malay Archipelago."]
The earliest European visitors tell us nothing of the two Hindu kingdoms, Pajajaran and Majapahit, so celebrated in the chronicles. They speak only of Sunda and its port Bantam; and they mention a certain prince, Fatelehan, as completing the Mohammedan conquest in 1524. Raffles, however, following the chronicles, focusses the overthrow of the Hindu supremacy in the capture of the city of Majapahit in 1478 A.D. In spite of the traditions which speak of a long period of fighting, it is probable that the conversion of the Javanese to the new religion was gradual and peaceable, being in the main the result of commerce. The temples, the head-quarters of the old religion, show no traces of violence. They were destroyed, says Dr. Leemans, simply by "carelessness, disuse, and nature," not by a sanguinary war. Long before the Prince Fatelehan conquered the western kingdom of Sunda in 1524, Arab merchants had spread the principles of Islamism among the Javanese. It was just at the time of the establishment of the Mohammedan power that the first Europeans made their way to the island. Portuguese writers say that their people, after the conquest of Malacca in 1511, entered into relations with the inhabitants of Bantam, through Samian, a prince of Sunda, who had formerly lived at Malacca. Leme, a Portuguese sent by Albuquerque, Captain of Malacca, made a treaty with this Samian, and obtained permission to build a fortress at Bantam on condition that the prince and his subjects were protected from the Moors. In the realization of this object, an expedition was sent by the Portuguese king under command of Francesco de Sa; but before it reached the prince Bantam had been taken by treason, and the Mohammedan power established under Fatelehan. Henceforward the native rulers were Mohammedans, and the list of these sovereigns given by Raffles extends from A.D. 1477 to A.D. 1815.
[Footnote 2: "Boro-Boedoer Temples," by Dr. C. Leemans, a Leide 1874.]
The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch and English after some considerable interval. The first Dutch fleet, under the command of Admiral Houtman, sailed for Bantam in the year 1595. The prince, who was then at war with the Portuguese, allowed them to establish a factory there, and thus the first Dutch settlement in the East Indies was formed. Not long after, the English East India Company (immediately after their incorporation by Queen Elizabeth in 1601) despatched a force under Captain Lancaster. He succeeded in establishing friendly relations with the prince, who sent a letter to the English queen, which is still extant among the state records. This is noticeable as being the first settlement of the East India Company; and as showing that Hindustan, which now means India for most people, was not the original "India" of the company. In the subsequent quarrels between the natives and the Dutch, the English assisted the former so successfully that at one time the Dutch had to enter into a convention with the native chiefs and the English commander, by which they agreed to surrender their fort at Jakatra and evacuate the island. On the conclusion of peace, however, between the Dutch and English in Europe, and on the arrival of reinforcements under Jan Pietersen Koen, they changed their plans, and, instead of retiring from the island, proceeded to lay the foundations of an extensive settlement at Jakatra.
In the following year (1621) the name of Batavia was given to the settlement, and from this period onwards the Dutch continually increased their influence in the island, until in 1749 a deed containing a formal abdication of the sovereignty of the country was secured from the dying susunan (or Mohammedan emperor). In this the unfortunate prince "abdicates for himself and his heirs the sovereignty of the country, conferring the same on the Dutch East India Company, and leaving it to them to dispose of in future, to any person they might think competent to govern it for the benefit of the company and of Java." It is by virtue of this deed that the Dutch East India Company, and subsequently the Dutch Colonial Government, became practically landlord of the whole island. Since the Government assumed possession of the soil they have gradually bought up the previously existing rights of the native princes, and in return have guaranteed them certain revenues, which have now become in most cases mere official salaries. Among the rights which the Government secured, by thus becoming landlord of the island, was that of receiving one-fifth part both of the produce and of the labour of the Javan peasants. This fact—that the mass of the Javan natives owed, as it were, feudal services to the Government—explains the comparative ease with which, nearly a century later, the culture system was introduced.
[Footnote 3: Raffles' "History."]
The English settlement at Bantam was withdrawn in 1683, and no effort was made to interfere with the Dutch until the year 1811, when, owing to the conquests of Napoleon in Europe, the island had become a mere French province. In that year a British force reduced Java and its dependencies. During the short period of British occupation (1811-1816) extensive reforms were introduced by Sir Stamford Raffles, the lieutenant-governor. These reforms had for their object the improvement of the condition of the mass of Javan natives, and the liberation of the industries of the island from the restrictions placed upon them by the monopolist policy of the Dutch. Whatever may be the verdict of history as to the practical value of these proposals, the attempt to carry them out has at least left behind such a tradition of British justice as to cause a feeling of profound respect towards the English to be almost universally entertained in the island to this day.
In the settlement effected by the Treaty of London, in 1814, the British Government retained the Cape and Ceylon among the Dutch possessions acquired by conquest in the Napoleonic wars, but Java and its dependencies were restored to their former masters. A right of protectorate, however, over the neighbouring island of Sumatra belonged to the British crown until the year 1872, when it was surrendered in return for equivalent rights on the Gold Coast of Africa. This concession has proved a veritable damnosa hereditas to the Government of Netherlands India. The attempt to enforce the newly acquired rights over the Sumatrans resulted in the outbreak of the Atchinese war in 1873, an event which has involved the island of Java in serious financial difficulties, and imperilled the prestige of Holland in the East.
A great part of the special interest which attaches to Java is derived from the fact that it has been the scene of an interesting financial experiment. The history of the introduction of the culture system, and of its gradual abandonment in recent years, is so interesting as to require a separate chapter to itself, and it is only necessary to mention here just so much as is essential for the purposes of a historical sketch. The author of the proposal was General Van den Bosch, who became Governor-General in 1830. The system continued in full operation until the year 1871, when the Home Government passed an Act providing for the gradual abandonment of the Government sugar plantations. By the year 1890 sugar, by far the most important of the Javan industries, was practically freed from Government interference. At the present time it is in debate whether or not the coffee industry should be similarly treated.
This short historical sketch would be incomplete without some mention of an appalling and unique event in the history of the island. On the 27th of August, 1883, the green-clad island of Krakatoa, which rises for some three thousand feet out of the waters which separate Sumatra from Java—the Straits of Sunda—was the scene of a most terrific volcanic discharge. Whole towns were destroyed in both islands; but even more striking than the loss of human life and property is the fact, now satisfactorily established, that the discharge of ashes was so great as to cause a series of extraordinarily brilliant sunsets all over the world, while the force of the tidal wave was such as to affect the level of the water in the river Thames. In travelling from Batavia to Singapore, I was fortunate enough to meet with an officer in the employ of the Netherlands India Steamship Company, who was able to give me an actual narrative of his personal experience of this wonderful eruption. Mr. S—— was at that time second engineer on the steamship Governor-General Lowden, belonging to the same company. I cannot do better than close this chapter with his narrative.
"We were anchored off Telokbetong, in Sumatra, when the chief officer and myself observed a dark line out at sea which bore the appearance of a tidal wave. While we were remarking this, the captain (who was just then taking his bath) rushed on to the bridge, and telegraphed to the engine-room to steam slow ahead up to the anchors. I was engaged in carrying out this order when the wave came up to the ship. First she dropped; then heaved up and down for some five minutes. There were three waves. When I came on deck again, the long pier, which had been crowded with Europeans who had come out of the town (they had experienced a shock of earthquake during the night),—this pier, the houses and offices, had disappeared, in fact, the whole town was gone. A Government steamboat lying at anchor (with steam up) in the bay was landed high on the tops of the palm trees in company with some native boats. That was the first intimation we received that Krakatoa was in eruption, and from that time, eight o'clock, onwards through the day the rumbling thunders never ceased, while the darkness increased to a thick impenetrable covering of smoky vapour. Shortly after this we got under way, and proceeded until the darkness made it impossible to go on further. It was while we were thus enveloped in darkness that the stones and cinders discharged by the mountain began to fall upon the ship. In a short time the canvas awning and the deck were covered with ashes and stones, to the depth of two feet, and all our available men were employed in removing the falling mass, which would otherwise have sunk the ship. We had a large number of natives on board, and a hundred and sixty European soldiers. The latter worked with the energy of despair at their task of clearing the deck, in spite of the twofold danger of being burnt and stunned by the hot falling stones. While we were engraved in this struggle, and enveloped in the sheer blackness of a veritable hell, a new and terrible danger came upon us. This was the approach of the tidal wave caused by the final eruption, which occurred about 12.30 to 1 p.m. The wave reached us at 2 p.m. or thereabouts, and made the ship tumble like a sea-saw. Sometimes she was almost straight on end, at other times she heaved over almost on her beam-ends. We were anchored and steaming up to our anchors as before, and as before we managed to escape destruction. All the passengers and the crew gave themselves up for lost, but there was no panic, and the captain handled the ship splendidly throughout. He received a gold medal from the Government in recognition of his indomitable courage in saving the ship and passengers. Well, you can fancy what it was like when I tell you that the captain was lashed with three ropes alongside the engine-room companion, while I was lashed down below to work the engines. The men were dashed from one side of the engine-room to the other.
"When we reached Angier we found no trace—neither a splinter of wood nor a fraction of stone—of the buildings of that once flourishing seaport. At Batavia the water was so dense from the floating lava (the deposit reached fifteen feet in depth) that we made our way to the shore on planks. Telokbetong was closed for three or four months, and on our return to Achin we could not land our passengers. At Batavia the tidal wave had penetrated almost to the town, where in the lower portion the houses were flooded by the Kali Bezar (great river). Business was suspended except by a few determined spirits who worked on by gaslight, so great was the alarm at the darkness and thunderous noises."
TRAVELLING AND HOTELS.
Area—Climate—Permission to travel—Chief objects of interest—Means of locomotion—Language—Hotels.
Of the many travellers who have written accounts of their visits to Java, not one has been explicit in his directions as to the ways and means of reaching the various interesting objects which he has described. This may partly be accounted for by the fact that there are, indeed, no Titanic difficulties to be encountered. The districts to be traversed are furnished with excellent roads, and in part with railways, contain large and civilized towns, and are inhabited by a peaceable and industrious population. The difficulties, such as they are, can be overcome by the two necessaries for all except the most hackneyed excursions—time and money. In Java the former is, if anything, more important than the latter.
Java—with which is included for all purposes the little island of Madura, lying off its north-eastern coast—is a long narrow island six degrees south of the equator. It is 630 miles long, and averages 100 miles in breadth. Its area is 51,961 square miles, an extent slightly greater than that of England; and the present population reaches a total of twenty-three millions. Like all the islands of the Malay Archipelago, its surface is diversified by great mountains (generally volcanic) and extensive plains. It is poorly supplied with minerals; coal is there, but not in workable quantities; perhaps the only valuable mineral products are the clay, which is made into bricks, earthenware, and porcelain, and the deposits of salt in the Government mines.
On the other hand, the soil is proverbially fertile. The chief products are best exhibited in connection with the four botanical zones into which Junghuhn has divided the island according to elevation:
I. From the seaboard Tropical. Rice, sugar, cinnamon, to 2000 feet. cotton, maize.
II. From 2000 feet to Moderately hot. Coffee, tea, cinchona, 4500 feet. sugar-palm.
III. From 4500 feet to Moderately cool. Indian corn, tobacco, 7500 feet. cabbage, potatoes.
IV. From 7500 feet to Cold. European flora. 12,000 feet.
The climate varies in accordance with these zones. Observations made at Batavia (on the coast), the only place where a record covering a sufficient period has been kept, give a mean of 78.69 deg. for a period of twelve years. The monthly mean shows a variation of only two degrees. The period from April to November, when the south-east trade winds prevail, called the dry or east monsoon, is slightly warmer than the remaining six months which make up the rainy season. The heaviest rainfall is in the months of December, January, and February. The chief characteristic of the climate of Java is, therefore, not so much its heat as its equability: it is rarely wet all day long even in the wet season, and at least one shower may be expected each day in the dry.
In spite of its great heat Java is generally healthy, and, in cases of simple bronchitis, the climate is positively helpful. Of course the mountain districts are preferable to the plains, but in the ordinary routes traversed by travellers there are no conditions to be encountered which are adverse to persons in the enjoyment of ordinary health. Buitenzorg (close to Batavia), the summer residence of the Governor-General, a place which is to Dutch India what Simla is to British India, is especially healthy, being some seven hundred feet above sea-level. Tosari, again, in the eastern part of the island, is a recognized sanatorium. It has a capital hotel, and lies at an elevation of six thousand feet above sea-level. This latter place is easily reached in one day from Soerabaia; and close by is Mount Bromo, one of the most active volcanoes in Java, and one which is always covered with smoke. A three-mile walk will give the visitor an opportunity of seeing the boiling crater—a magnificent spectacle. Mount S'meroe, the highest mountain in Java (12,000 feet), is also in the neighbourhood.
The best time to travel is the dry season, April to November, when the nights are cooler and the weather brighter; and, of course, in travelling by carriage, arrangements should be made to avoid proceeding during the hottest part of the day as much as possible.
The Dutch are nothing if they are not methodical, and in order to travel in Java certain formalities, which at first sight appear somewhat formidable, but which are really matters of form, have to be gone through. Any person intending to remain in the island for more than twenty-four hours must register his name with the police, and give them particulars of his age, birthplace, profession, last place of residence, the ship in which he arrived, and the name of its captain. He thereupon receives a document entitled Toetlakings-kaart ("admission ticket"), which states that the person so named and described arrived at a certain date, "with the intention of residing in Netherlands India," and that he is permitted, "by authority of the ordinance of March 12, 1872, to reside in any of the chief harbours or ports open for general trade, and also at Buitenzorg." It is signed by the Assistant-Resident of Batavia. This "admission-ticket" is not sufficient to authorize the new arrival to travel in the interior. For this purpose a second and still more imposing document must be obtained. This is an extract from the register of "decisions" of the Governor-General, and is to the effect that the petition of the undersigned So-and-so has been read, and "that the Governor-General has been pleased to grant him permission to travel for six months in Java."
If the visitor wishes to enjoy any sport he will require a third document, signed by the Resident, to entitle him to "import the following weapon and ammunition, namely," his gun, "which is intended for his own use." It will be a relief to the reader to know that in my own case the documents confirming the grant of all these privileges were obtained at the cost of half a crown for stamps.
Batavia, the capital of Java and the seat of government of the Dutch possessions in the East, is distant two hundred and fifty miles from Samarang, and four hundred from Soerabaia, the ports which respectively "tap" the populous central and eastern districts. While these two latter towns are connected by rail with each other, communication with Batavia is maintained at present by steamboats and post-carriages, since there is a break of one hundred and twenty miles—from Garoet, the terminus of the western railway, to Tjilatjap, a port on the southern coast—in the trunk line which is eventually to unite the whole island. Batavia, however, in spite of this drawback, is the natural starting-point for the visitor. In the first place, it is the port of call of the principal steamboat companies which connect Java with Australia, British India, China, and Europe; and in the next, being the seat of government and containing the chief political and scientific authorities, it is the centre from which information and assistance of all kinds may be obtained. In particular, I would recommend a visit to the museum of antiquities at Batavia as an introduction to the study not only of the Hindu remains, but also of the native industries and manner of life.
The subjects of special interest in Java may be grouped under five heads—the Hindu antiquities, the native towns, the plantations, tropical plant-life, and sport. In the case of the three latter, the several neighbourhoods required to be visited are easily accessible from Batavia by the western railway. Soekaboemi, the centre of the coffee and cinchona plantations, and the head-quarters of the Planters' Association, is fifty miles distant. Buitenzorg, with its famous botanical gardens, is within an hour and a half's journey. Here, in the various Government gardens and plantations, the plant-life of the whole Malay Archipelago is conveniently exhibited, both in its scientific and industrial aspects, and a strangers' laboratory is specially provided for scientific visitors. The Preanger Regencies—the best place for sport—may be described roughly as occupying the southern half of the western portion of the island. The chief towns of this district—Tjandjoer, Bandong, and Garoet—are all connected with Batavia by the same line of railway. Of these, Tjandjoer is the residence of the native prince, the Regent of Tjandjoer, who is the chief patron of horse-racing in Java.
But the largest of the native towns and those in the neighbourhood of which the most important of the Hindu remains are to be found, such as Soerabaia, Samarang, Solo, Djokja, and Magalang, are situated in the centre and east of the island. As I have before explained, the western and eastern railways are not yet connected, and therefore the railway alone will no longer be sufficient to convey the traveller to his basis of operations. In planning his journey to these towns he will have to weigh the relative advantages of three routes, and to consider the opportunities offered by three means of locomotion—railway, steamboat, and post-carriage.
In another place I have given in detail, with full information as to distances and expenses, the three possible routes to the temples from Batavia, and therefore I need speak here only in general terms.
[Footnote 4: Appendix.]
The principal coast towns can be reached by the steamships of the Netherlands India Company (or its successor), which average about 1000 tons, and are said to be fairly comfortable. As the fares are comparatively high, most people will prefer to avoid the discomforts incidental to a steamboat, augmented by the conditions of the place—natives and strange food. In travelling by road very considerable fatigue must be undergone, and of course the expense is greater than that incurred in travelling by rail or steamboat. Also, as in such travelling smaller towns and less-known districts are traversed, it is especially desirable to have a "boy," or native servant (who can talk English), to communicate with the natives in the Javanese and Sundanese dialects, since in the out-of-the-way districts Malay is not understood. The railways are much the same as elsewhere, except that the rate of travelling is slower and the cost of travelling rather more than usual. As part of the railways are held by private companies, there is a slight variation in both of these particulars on different lines. The construction of railways in Java began in 1875. Ten years later there were 261 miles of private, and 672 miles of Government, railways open for traffic. Since then this extent has been increased, but in 1891 the railway system was still incomplete, by reason of the gap between Garoet and Tjilatjap.
There is another important consideration which will affect the choice of routes and of means of conveyance, and that is the question of language. The natives in the big towns and all servants in hotels and private houses speak Malay, which is the official language for communication between them and the Europeans. There is always supposed to be one man in each native village (or campong) who can speak this language. Malay handbooks are published in Singapore, and although such books cannot be bought, as far as I know, in Batavia, they can often be borrowed; or, failing this, a few necessary phrases can be written down. Such a phrase, for example, as this: Apa nama ini? ("What is the name of this?") will serve to supply the place of many vocabularies. The language, which from its soft sounding has been called "the Italian of the Tropics," is very simple, and seems to consist almost exclusively of nouns (i.e. substantives, adjectives, and pronouns). The verb "to be" and prepositions are often omitted, e.g. Pighi bawa ini Tuan X— = "Go [and] take this [to] Mr. X——;" and most substantives can be formed into verbs. Combinations of substantives are used; e.g. Kreta api ("fire-carriages") = "railway." Again, many European words are adopted bodily. In sadoe a Frenchman will easily recognize a corruption of dos-a-dos; ayer brandy (or ayer whisky), literally "water-brandy," will present no difficulties to the average Englishman. "Butter" is mentega, a Portuguese word. The vowels have the same value as in the Continental languages.
[Footnote 5: The combination oe is pronounced [macron-u] (or oo).]
It is obvious that the few words and phrases necessary for everyday life can be easily acquired in such a language, and most people will find the process rather amusing than otherwise. If, however, it is desired to escape this trouble, or to gain a more complete knowledge of the ideas of the natives, a "boy" who speaks English can be secured at Batavia, who will act as valet and interpreter. In communicating with the Dutch residents and the European shop-people in the towns, there is no difficulty experienced, since nearly every one can speak English; if not, recourse can be had to French or German.
[Footnote 6: The cost of such a "boy" is very small (labour being one thing which is cheap in the island). He is paid from 16 to 18 florins (12 florins = L1) a month; and when travelling it is usual to give him a half-florin a day for food, otherwise the hotel charge for servants, one florin a day, must be paid.]
In addition to obtaining the formal permission to travel already mentioned, in order to see native ceremonies and enjoy big-game shooting, it is necessary to get recommendations to the residents of the native regencies, and in any case it is desirable to have as many private introductions as possible.
But, however well supplied with such recommendations they may be, all travellers are sure to be more or less dependent on hotels. In Java, as in other tropical countries, the hotels are large one or two storied buildings, with rows of rooms opening upon broad verandahs screened with bamboo blinds, and arranged round courtyards planted with trees. The general living-room and the dining-room have one or more sides open to the air, and are arranged with a view to coolness. The style of cooking in Dutch India is different from that in British India, and has one special peculiarity the—rice table, which will be described hereafter; and of course there are minor differences, depending upon the conditions of the place and society. To persons who are prepared to enjoy life (and this is the spirit in which one should travel), the little eccentricities and deficiencies will be a source of amusement, and give additional zest to the travelling experience. But no invalid or dyspeptic should enter the portals of a Javan hotel. As for accommodation, suites of rooms can be engaged, but the ordinary traveller has a large bedroom with the proportion of the verandah belonging to it; this latter is fitted with a bamboo screen, table and chairs, and a hanging lamp, and is for all intents and purposes a sitting-room. The bedroom also is furnished with a view of securing coolness; the floor is covered with matting, and the furniture is not very luxurious; its chief feature is a tremendous bedstead. Now, a Javan bedstead is quite sui generis, and requires a ground plan. The ordinary size is six feet square. It is completely covered with mosquito curtains, and has no clothes, the broad expanse being broken by two pillows for the head and a long bolster (called a Dutch wife) which lies at right angles to the pillows. This latter is one of the numerous contrivances for securing coolness. The ordinary routine of hotel life is much the same as elsewhere in the island. At half-past six a coolie comes to the door and awakes you, bringing tea or coffee when you want it. Some time subsequently you proceed in pyjamas, or (if a lady) in a kabaia (or loose jacket) and sarong (native dress) to the bath-room, which is an important feature in every Eastern hotel. Generally speaking, it is not so very much removed from what Mr. Ruskin would desire. It is a large room with bare walls and a marble floor, on which is placed a cistern or jar of water, from which water is taken with a hand-bucket and poured over the bather, who stands upon a wooden framework. The water runs away from the edges of the room, but I never felt quite sure that it didn't come back again afterwards. The walls are sometimes decorated with mirrors, and there is often an arrangement for a shower-bath. But very generally the bather has nothing but bare walls and a huge earthen jar such as Aladdin and the forty thieves would use at Drury Lane. At Singapore this same arrangement obtains, and there it is related that a young midshipman, going to the bath-room and being confronted by a bare interior with nothing but the big jar in the middle of it, very naturally concluded that this was the bath. He quickly stripped and got into it; but once in he found it impossible to get out again. After vain endeavours, he rolled the big jar over bodily, and, smashing it on the floor, triumphantly emerged from the fragments. His friends afterwards pointed out to him that there was a hand-bucket there, and enlightened him as to its uses.
Breakfast consists of light breads, eggs, cold meat in thin strips, and fruit, and is served about nine. After breakfast any serious business should be accomplished before the great heat of the day sets in. At 12.30 rice-table (or tiffin) commences. This is a serious meal, and must carry you on till eight o'clock in the evening. The first dish, or rather series of dishes, is that from which the meal takes its name—rice-table. In partaking of this the visitor first places some boiled rice upon a soup plate, and then on the top of it as many portions of some eight or ten dishes which are immediately brought as he cares to take—omelette, curry, chicken, fish, macaroni, spice-pudding, etc.; and, lastly, he selects some strange delicacies from an octagonal dish with several kinds of prepared vegetables, pickled fish, etc., in its nine compartments. After this comes a salad, some solid meat (such as beefsteak), sweets, and fruit. Finger-glasses are always provided, and one notices that the salt is always moist, and also that it is not customary to provide spoons for that article. At four, or thereabouts, tea is brought to your room. This serves to rouse you from your siesta, and you then proceed (being by this time again in pyjamas) to take your second bath. After that, European garments are worn, and it is cool enough either for driving or walking. The dinner, which is served at eight, is much like an ordinary a la Russe dinner, except that there are rather more small vegetable dishes than is customary elsewhere.
In the Hotel der Nederlanden at Batavia (and there are plenty of others like it) there is something of the life which is described as belonging to the baths in ancient Roman watering-places. Imagine a long courtyard, with deep verandahs, trees only screening you from the opposite side; around you men in pyjamas, with their feet resting on the arms of their easy-chairs, smoking or taking various iced drinks from long glasses; ladies dressed in the beautiful native garment (the sarong) and the lace-trimmed white jacket (the kabaia), promenading with children. Opposite you is a little Dutch maiden, whose golden hair and white skin contrasts with the dark complexion of her baboe, or nurse. She is dressed in a flowing white robe, and is putting on her stockings in the most neglige attitude, for it is now time to go out—4 p.m.—while her mother stands by and scolds her. Everywhere coolies are squatting on the ground in their bright garments, or standing busied with the ordinary duties of service, and baboes are playing with their little charges. You are yourself dressed in such a way that you would probably feel uncomfortable were you discovered so dressed in your dressing-room at home; but here you feel perfectly at ease—such is the magical effect of climate—whether promenading in your loose garments or reclining in your easy-chair and gazing coolly upon the occupants of the carriages which cross the courtyard. Or perhaps you are engaged in a chaffing-match with one of the native vendors—Chinese, Malay, or Javanese—who are ever ready to persuade you to buy the commonest trifles at the most fancy prices.
The native servants are very quick and willing to do the visitor's commands; indeed, disasters generally arise from an excess of diligence on their part. For instance, in a damp climate it is an excellent general rule for your "boy" to keep your clothes aired by laying them in the sun two or three times a week; but it is a trifle embarrassing to a modest and impecunious person to see the whole of his wardrobe exhibited urbi et orbi in front of his room on the verandah. The pyjamas, suspended in airy fashion, floating in the wind; the coats and trousers hung up on strips of wood so that their full extent is exposed to the sun and air; the pair of pumps, on which only last night he had congratulated himself as looking quite smart by gaslight, now standing confessed in all the unseemliness of bulging sides and torn lining; even the domestic slippers too. Yet such was the scene which met my gaze as I returned from breakfast at nine o'clock in the courtyard of the Hotel Belle Vue at Buitenzorg. Trop de zele, I thought.
THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT AND THE NATIVES.
Dutch possessions in the East—Government—Army and navy—Administration—Development of natives—Raden Saleh—Native dress—Cooking and houses—Rice cultivation—Amusements—Marriage ceremony.
The Netherlands India, as the Dutch possessions in the East are officially styled, includes the whole of the Malay Archipelago, with the exception of the Philippine Islands belonging to Spain, part of Borneo in the possession of the North Borneo Company, and the eastern half of New Guinea, which is shared by Germany and England. The total area is officially stated to be 719,674 square miles, and the total population 29,765,031. It is administered by a Governor-General, a Government secretary, and a Council of State consisting of five members, who are appointed from among the chief Dutch residents in the island of Java. As all matters of general policy are controlled by the Secretary for the Colonies, who is a member of the Home Government, the functions of the Colonial Government are mainly executive and consultative. So close is the connection that the colonial estimates for revenue and expenditure have to receive the approval of the Home Government before they can be carried out. Moreover, the various Government officials scattered through the Archipelago are responsible to the Secretary for the Colonies. There are colleges established both in Holland and in Batavia in which the young men intended for the colonial service can receive a suitable training.
The physical sanction upon which the Dutch authority rests is an army of thirty thousand men, composed of Dutch, Germans, Swiss, Italians, and natives, but officered exclusively by Dutchmen, and a navy of fifty ships. Of these troops, a large proportion (amounting in 1891 to 16,537) are native. The head-quarters of the army is fixed at Batavia. There are barracks at Weltevreden, and at Meester Cornelis in the capital, and additional accommodation has been recently provided at Buitenzorg. The fleet is stationed at Soerabaia, a town which possesses the best harbour in Java, and which is conveniently situated at the other end of the island. There are, however, a few ships always stationed at Batavia. The greater proportion of the fleet is composed of the ships of the Netherlands Indian navy, which is permanently stationed in the Archipelago; but there are among them some ships belonging to the Dutch navy, which are relieved every three years.
At the present time, the chief occupation of the colonial forces is the establishment of the Dutch authority in Sumatra. Since 1874 the natives of Achin have successfully resisted the Dutch, and the Achin war has proved so costly and so disastrous, that the Home Government have ordered the operations of the troops to be confined to such as are purely defensive. Acting under these instructions, the colonial forces have retired behind a chain of forts, and all attempts to advance into the interior have been abandoned. Last year (1891), Baron Mackay, the Secretary for the Colonies, was able to assure the States General that "excellent results were expected from the blockade system," now adopted, and that the Achinese were already beginning to feel the inconvenience of being cut off from their supplies of necessaries, such as opium and tobacco. Java is by far the most important of the islands of the Malay Archipelago. Its population is four times that of the total population of the remaining Dutch possessions in the East. This population is divided as follows (1890):—
Other Orientals. 1806
With the exception of the Chinese, the great retail traders of the Malay countries, almost the entire population of the island is "native." This term includes various branches of the Malay race, of which the chiefs are the Javanese and Sundanese, occupying respectively the east and west of the island. Separate dialects are also spoken by the people of Bantam and Madura. There is little to distinguish the two chief races, except that the Javanese are more warlike and spirited than the Sundanese, who are somewhat more dull and almost entirely agricultural. Speaking generally, the native population of Java is but little inferior in intelligence to the native population of India, while in some respects—in particular, in the readiness shown by the native princes to assimilate European learning and customs, and in a certain artistic sensibility manifested by the whole people—they resemble the inhabitants of Japan.
The majority of the Javanese natives are employed in the cultivation of rice; in work on plantations, sugar, coffee, cinchona, and tea; and in various lesser industries, such as the making of mats and weaving of sarongs. They are also by no means unskilful as workers in clay, wood, and metals, and as artisans generally, and are successfully employed by the Government in working the railways and post and telegraph services.
For purposes of administration the island is divided into twenty-four residencies. Each residency is further divided into districts, and finally into campongs, or townships. It will be remembered that when, at the end of the eighteenth century, the Dutch Government took over the island from the East India Company, they received possession of the soil, subject only to such limitations as the company had already imposed upon their ownership. Since that time the Colonial Government has pursued a policy in Java similar to that pursued by the British in India, by which the native princes have been gradually induced to part with their territorial rights and privileges, and to accept in return proportionate monetary compensations. At the same time the services of these "princes" have been utilized in the work of government. As a result of this latter, the sums paid originally as incomes equivalent to the revenues derived from the rights surrendered have now come to be of the nature of official salaries. Most of these regents, as the native princes are called, receive from two to three thousand florins a year; but some one or two, such as the Sultan of Djokja, and the Regent of Bandong, receive as much as seventy or eighty thousand florins. The Dutch have wisely employed as much as possible the social organization which they found in existence, and native authorities and institutions have been supplemented by European officials. In each residency there is, therefore, a double set of officials, European and native. First of all, there is the Resident, who resides at the chief town, and is the head of all officials, European and native. Under him there are Assistant-Residents, controleurs, and assistant-controleurs. The controleur is an official more especially connected with the Government plantations, and the regulation of the industrial relations between the planters and the peasants, or coolies, is an important duty which he fulfils. The Regent is the head of the native officials, but of course inferior in authority to the Resident, whom he calls his "Elder Brother." Under him is an officer called a patih, and then wedanas, assistant-wedanas, and ultimately the village chiefs, or loerahs. In addition to these there is a further official called a jaksa, who ranks above the wedanas, and receives information of any offences committed. In the villages the loerahs act as policemen, but in the towns there are regular native policemen, called oppas, who also attend on the wedanas. In each residency there is a court of justice, consisting of a president, who is a paid legal official, a clerk of the court, and a pangoeloe, or priest, for administering oaths. In this court the jaksa sits as native assessor to the European judge-president. There are superior courts at the three great towns, Batavia, Samarang, and Soerabaia, and a supreme court at Batavia. Murder and crimes of violence are generally rare, but small thieving is common throughout the island.
The religion of the Javanese is Mohammedanism; although Brahmanism still survives in some of the islands of the Archipelago, it has entirely disappeared from Java. Until recent years the Colonial Government have discouraged any efforts directed towards the conversion of the natives to Christianity. The quietism of the Mohammedan creed was regarded as better adapted to supply their religious needs than the doctrines of the missionaries.
Of late years, however, a more generous policy has prevailed. As the mass of the Javanese regard the native princes as traitors and apostates, the Arab priests and hadjis have come to be recognized as the popular leaders. It is they, and not the princes, who now form the dangerous element. The priests are jealous of European influence, and are ready to incite the natives to revolt if occasion offers, but in any outbreak the native princes are the first to be attacked. A revolt in Bantam had occurred some twelve months before the date of my visit (1890). In return for some injustice, the Resident and his wife and children were put to death by mutilation. The village in which this took place was near Serang, the capital town of Bantam, and only seventy miles from Batavia, and military assistance was obtained from both of these places. The troops from Serang arrived in time to find the body of the Resident's wife still heaving with the action of breathing. Fifty or sixty of the natives were brought to justice for this murder, and six of the ringleaders were shot. I was told that there were numerous secret societies existing in the country, controlled by the Mohammedan authorities in Arabia, and absolutely hidden beyond the reach of the Government.
The question of the moral and mental development of the Javanese natives is one which has lately been much discussed, both in Java and in Holland, and the result has been that the Colonial Government is now fairly pledged to a humanitarian policy. The large sum annually appropriated in the colonial budget to the purposes of public instruction, is a sufficient evidence of the reality of the desire now manifested by the Dutch to give the natives of Java full opportunities for the education and training necessary for technical and industrial progress. There can be no doubt as to the capacity of the natives to benefit by such advantages. When D'Almeida visited the island thirty years ago, he paid a visit to Raden Saleh, a native artist, who had been sent to Holland to be educated there at the expense of the Colonial Government. He had lived for twenty-three years in Europe, residing both in that country and in Germany, and following the profession of an artist. He was chiefly distinguished as an animal-painter, and made such progress in art that he was commissioned by the late Prince Consort to paint two pictures for him, illustrative of Javan life and scenery. Raden Saleh subsequently returned to his native country, and D'Almeida found him residing in an artistically furnished house with large and beautiful gardens near Batavia. In the course of this visit he was asked whether there were any other Javan artists who had attained similar proficiency. He replied, "Cafe et sucre, sucre et cafe, sont tout-ce qu'on parle ici. C'est vraiment un air triste pour un artiste."
[Footnote 7: At the time of writing I have come across the following paragraph in the Java news column of the Singapore Free Press for February 23, 1892: "The Nieuwsblad notes the arrival of a Turk from Singapore in the Stentor, who is suspected of having the intention to stir up the natives of Java. The police are paying attention to him."]
The artistic perception inborn in the Javan natives is nowhere more clearly manifested than in the colour and form of their dress. Nothing impresses the visitor more quickly or more pleasantly than the gay and graceful groups which throng the streets or roads. The light cottons and silken cloths which the natives wear are admirably suited to the climate, and an exquisite taste seems to govern the selection of colours and the fashion of wearing their garments. Both men and women alike wear the sarong, a long decorated cloth wound round the lower limbs and fastened at the waist; over this the former wear a badjoe, or short open jacket, and the latter a kabaia, or cloak, closed at the waist by a silver pin (peniti), and reaching down almost to the bottom of the sarong. Over the right shoulder is gracefully flung a long scarf called a slendang, used by mothers to carry their babies, and by the men as a belt when they are engaged in any active work. A square cloth (kain kapala) is worn on the head by men; it is folded in half diagonally, and then folded over and round the head until it looks much like a turban. On the top of this a wide straw hat (variously shaped) is carried, to protect the wearer against the sun. The women, on the contrary, wear nothing but their glossy black hair, or carry a bamboo umbrella if they wish for a similar protection.
The native weapons are the bamboo spear, and the short wavy sword called a kriss; but the only arm they carry nowadays is a golok, or straight piece of iron with a handle and sheath, used for lopping off boughs and cutting wood. The better class of natives use European furniture, but the ordinary peasants and artisans, who live in a bamboo cottage, use nothing but a single bed on which the whole family sleep, and a chest for clothes, both made, like the house, of bamboo.
The staple diet is rice and dried fish, with vegetables and fruits: cakes and pastry are rare luxuries, and purchased at the market or from itinerant vendors. The cooking arrangements are very simple. Nearly everything is cooked in a priok, or frying-pan, which is heated over a kompor, or stove of earthenware, or on bricks on a flat stove raised from the ground. In both cases charcoal is burnt, being made to burn brightly by a fan. The rice (which is to them what bread is to us) is not boiled, but steamed. A copper vessel (dang-dang) is filled with hot water, and the rice is then placed in a cone-shaped bamboo basket (koekoesan), which is placed point downwards into the vessel and covered with a bamboo or earthenware top (kekep). The dang-dang is then placed over the fire either in the kompor or on the bricks.
Rice culture is the natural pursuit of the Javanese or Sundanese native. Coffee, sugar, and tea he cultivates on compulsion for wages with which to pay his taxes. Now the land of Java is divided into two classes, land capable of being inundated by streams or rivers called sawah, and land not so inundated called tegal, or gaga. On the latter only the less important crops, such as mountain rice or Indian corn, are grown. On sawah land the rice is grown in terraces, which are so arranged that, without any machinery for raising or cisterns for storing the water, a perfectly natural and perpetual supply is gained from the high mountains, which serve here the same useful purpose that the great river Nile does in Egypt. The small fields are worked with the patjoel, a sort of hoe, and the large with the plough (wloekoe), and then inundated. After ten or fifteen days they are hoed again, so that any places not reached by the plough or hoe may be laboured, and the intervening banks kept free from weeds and consequently made porous. The large sawahs are also harrowed with the garoe; and, finally, small trenches are cut for the water to flow from one terrace to another. When the earth has thus been worked into a mass of liquid mud, the young plants are transplanted from the beds in which they have been sown about a month previously, and carefully placed in this soft mud. Inundation is necessary until the rice is nearly ripe, which is naturally about August or September. It is reaped with a short knife called ani-ani, with which the reaper cuts off each separate ear with a few inches of the stem; and the ears are then threshed by being placed in a hollow tree trunk and there stamped with a toemboekan, a heavy piece of wood with a broad end. The lands are ploughed, harrowed, and weeded by the men, but the transplanting, reaping, and threshing is done by women.
A curious circumstance in rice-cultivation is the fact that side by side the crops may be seen in each of the separate stages, planting and reaping often going on simultaneously. Beside the rice, a crop of beans or sweet potatoes is grown in the year, and the flooded terraces are also utilized as fish-tanks, in which gold-fish are grown to the length of a foot and a half and then eaten. They are brought to the market in water, and so kept fresh, and, if not sold, are of course returned to their "pastures" again.
The sawah plough is an interesting study. It is made in three pieces—the pole (tjatjadan); the handle (patjek), which fits into the iron-shod share (singkal). To this is attached a crosspiece or yoke (depar), fitted with a pair of long pegs coming over the necks of the oxen or buffaloes, and a crosspiece hanging under their necks and fastened to the yoke by native cord. The ploughman holds the tail of the plough with the left and the rod-whip (petjoet) with the right hand. He drives and directs the big lumbering beasts by words or by a touch of the rod. To make them go "straight on," he calls out, Gio gio kalen; "Turn to the right" is Ghir ngivo; "To the left," Ghir nengen; "Stop" is His his; and whenever they (or horses) incur the displeasure of their drivers, they are invariably brought to a better mind by hearing an unpronounceable exclamation something like Uk uk.
Another natural industry in which the Javanese are particularly skilful is the making of mats. There are many varieties. A light sort of floor-covering is made from the leaves of the wild pine-apple (pandan); a stronger kind is the tika Bogor, or Buitenzorg matting, which is made from the bark of a species of palm, and which is used to cover walls and ceilings. Beside these, matting is made from rushes and from the cane imported from Palembang, in Sumatra; while for the walls of the houses a heavy matting of bamboo strips is used. The weaving of sarongs is practised by the women all over Java, and the cooking and household utensils, made both in copper and earthenware, indicate by their forms a considerable taste. The Javanese carpenters are also very clever, and both they and the Malays are skilful in imitating any European designs which are handed to them. In spite, however, of this natural aptitude for higher industries, the great mass of the native population are compelled by the present commercial system to remain mere peasants. Even so the cheapness and simplicity of the means of life prevent them from being a joyless race. A plantation cooly generally has two days in the week on which he does no work.
The public feasts are numerous, the chief being the Taon Baru, or New Year, which falls at the end of the fasting month, which varies from year to year. In 1890 it lasted from April 21 to May 21. During this month the chiefs and the better class abstain from eating or smoking from sunrise to sunset. Every village has its market once a week or thereabouts, and after this there is generally a wayang, or puppet show, and some mild amusement. The wayang is the most important of the native amusements; for the theatre is a rare luxury, and confined chiefly to the towns or to the courts of the native princes. It is a very simple business—far beneath a punch-and-judy show in point of art, but the audience watch the puerile display for five or six hours without intermission. The theatre consists of pantomimic representations, with which is mingled a ballet, the basis of which is ancient tradition. The following story (which I have condensed from D'Almeida's book) is a specimen. A certain King Praboe Sindolo of Mendang Kamolan, feeling tired of the vanities of the world, retired to a hut, where he lived in prayer and fasting. While thus living he was visited by a tempter, who sought to rekindle his desire for the good things of this life. Thereupon Praboe sent for a large bird and four vestal virgins to defend him against the evil spirit. By a miracle he transformed himself into a flower, around which the vestal virgins danced. By chance, however, a princess passed that way, and, seeing a vase with beautiful flowers therein, she chose and gathered one, which she carried to her home. This she placed in water, when, to her surprise, it suddenly was transformed into a young and graceful man. Even as she had cared for him did Praboe care for her, and forthwith he became her lover, and cared nothing any longer for the fasting and the cave.
Much of the Javan festivity is connected with the marriage ceremony, which is always an occasion of feasting, greater or less, in proportion to the wealth of the bride and bridegroom. There is a procession and music, but the actual ceremony is very simple, although the accessory festivities appear to be capable of almost indefinite extension. Barrington D'Almeida, who visited the island in 1861, thus describes the scene which he witnessed in a house filled with guests:—
"On either side of the front room, on white Samarang mats, were seated the elders of the village, priests, various friends, relations, and acquaintances, all squatted cross-legged. Cups of tea, a la Chinoise—that is, without milk or sugar—were placed on handsome trays before each guest, as well as betel nuts, cakes, a quantity of rokos, and other native delicacies.... Followed by several of the guests, we entered another room, which was very gaudily decorated, and furnished with a low bed, the curtains of which were of white calico, ornamented with lace, gold, silver, beads, and coloured bits of silk. At the foot of this bed was a platform, raised about half a foot from the ground, on which was spread a spotless white mat, with several bronze trays containing cakes, etc. Whilst we were inspecting this apartment we were startled by the din of voices, followed by the sound of music, which, from its peculiar character, was too near to be agreeable. 'The bride is come,' said Drahman. The crowd was so great that it was some minutes before we could catch a glimpse of her. Our curiosity was at length gratified, while they were pouring water upon her small naked feet. After this ceremony an elderly man, who, I was informed, was one of her relatives, carried her in his arms to the inner room, and placed her on the platform, where she sat down on the left side of the bridegroom, who had followed her in. She had a rather pleasing expression, but was much disfigured by a yellow dye, with which her face, neck, shoulders, and arms were covered, and which effectually concealed her blushes.
"Her dress was very simple, consisting of a long sarong of fine batek, passing under both arms and across the chest, so that, though her shoulders were quite naked, her bosom was modestly covered. This garment reached nearly down to the young bride's ankles, and was confined round the waist by a silver 'pinding.' Her hair was arranged in the usual Javanese style, with the addition that on the knob at the back of the head rested a kind of crown made of beads and flowers.
"On the left side of the girl sat an old, haggard-looking woman, the waksie, or bridesmaid, on whose shoulders, according to the wedding etiquette of the Javanese, rests no small share of the responsibility.... She is expected to adorn the bride in the most attractive manner, so as to please her husband and the assembled guests; and she superintends all the ceremonies during the celebration of the wedding.... The bridegroom, like his bride, was yellow-washed down to the waist; his eyebrows were blackened and painted to a point; he wore a variegated batek sarong, fastened round the waist with a bright silk scarf, through the folds of which glittered the gilt hilt of a kriss. His hair fell on his back in long thick masses, whilst a conical-shaped hat, made of some material resembling patent leather, was placed on the top of his head. On one side of him was seated his waksie, or best man, a boy dressed very much like himself. I was told that the parents of the young couple were absent, as, according to the usual custom in this country, their presence is not expected at the wedding ceremony."
[Footnote 8: "Life in Java."
It is interesting to know that the ceremony by which the marriage tie is dissolved is as simple as the marriage ceremony is elaborate. All that is necessary is the consent of the parties; no discredit is involved nor any suffering incurred, and the Arab priest performs the divorce service for a sum so trifling as half a florin! Probably the cheapness of food, and the ease with which life can be supported generally in such a country and climate, is the cause of this laxity of the marriage tie. As a Mohammedan, a Javan peasant is permitted to have as many as four wives, but he can rarely afford more than one, or two at the most.
Tanjong Priok—Sadoes—Batavia—Business quarter—Telephoning—Chinese Campong—Weltevreden— Waterloo Plain—Peter Elberfeld's house—Raffles and Singapore.
When the prosperity of the Dutch East India Company was at its height, the city of Batavia was justly entitled the "Queen of the East." Apart from the fact that this place was the centre and head-quarters of the company, it was the emporium through which the whole commerce of the East passed to and from Europe. The Dutch possessions of Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Moluccas depended for their supplies on Java. Not only were the European imports, iron, broadcloth, glass-ware, velvets, wines, gold lace, furniture, and saddlery destined for these settlements received here in the first instance, but similar imports intended for China, Cochin, Japan, and the Malay islands were also reshipped from this port into the native boats which conveyed them to those several countries. Similarly, the wealth of China and the East was first collected upon the wharfs of Batavia before it was finally despatched to the various ports of Europe and America.
[Footnote 9: "Not many years later (i.e. than 1602, the date of Wolfert's victory over the Portuguese Admiral Mendoza), at the distance of a dozen leagues from Bantam, a congenial swamp was fortunately discovered in a land whose volcanic peaks rose two miles in the air, and here a town duly laid out with canals and bridges, and trim gardens and stagnant pools, was baptized by the ancient and well-beloved name of Good Meadow, or Batavia, which it bears to this day" (Motley, "United Netherlands").
Since the foundation of the town, the seashore has silted up to such an extent that the original harbour of Batavia, in which the Dutch East Indiamen of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries lay at anchor, has been abandoned, and a new port has been constructed at a point six miles to the eastward. The harbour works at Tanjong Priok, as the present port of Batavia is called, and the railway which connects the port and town of Batavia, are one among many improvements set on foot in the island since the inauguration of a public-works policy by the Colonial Government in 1875. Ocean steamships of 4000 and 5000 tons burden can now be berthed at these wharfs, and there is a constant and convenient service of trains between the port and the town. Even to-day the presence of superannuated Dutch warships and quaint craft from China and the Malay islands relieves the monotony of the vast hulls of the steamships of the British India, the Messageries Maritimes, and the Netherlands India Companies.
I was agreeably surprised at the size and convenience of the station at Tanjong Priok. The booking clerk, who was, I think, a Chinaman, seemed to know the ways of strangers, and I and my fellow-passengers had no difficulty in taking tickets for Batavia. The line passed through groves of cocoa-nut palms, intersected with canals. Everything was quaint and interesting, the canal boats, the buffalo ploughs, the gaily-feathered birds,—all revealed a new and delightful phase of life and nature. We were immensely struck with the appearance of a native cutting grass. He had a hooked blade of steel fastened to a long handle, forming an instrument not unlike a cleek or other golf-stick. This he slowly swung round his head, and each time it touched the ground cleared about three inches of grass. The thing looked too absurd. We all wanted to get out and ask him how long he expected to be mowing that strip of grass by the canal-side.
While I was on board ship I had been fortunate enough to borrow a Malay phrase-book from a man who had visited the Archipelago before, and during the voyage to Batavia I had amused myself with copying out some of the phrases and committing them to memory. On landing I found these few phrases extremely useful, and I mention the fact by way of encouragement, and in case any other traveller should be inclined similarly to beguile the tedium of the voyage. He will have his reward.
When Mr. Wallace visited Java in 1861, he tells us he found no conveyances in Batavia except "handsome two-horse carriages," costing something under a sovereign a day. He justly complains of the expensiveness of these vehicles, and also of the cost of the post-carriages which then formed the sole means of locomotion in the interior of the island. To-day things are greatly improved. To say nothing of the railway system which connects the large towns in the east and west, Batavia is provided with an excellent tramway, and with a capital supply of small vehicles called sadoes.
The sadoe is the hansom of Java. It is a small two-wheeled carriage, in which the seats are placed back to back (hence the name, which is a corruption of dos-a-dos), and which is furnished with a square top to keep off the sun. It is drawn by one (or two) of the sturdy little horses bred in the island. At a pinch these vehicles will hold four, but two is enough. Ordinarily the driver sits in front, and the "fare" in the more luxurious seat behind. Thus weighted the country-breds go at a very smart pace; nor is there any complaint to be made in respect of the drivers. They are generally very civil, and their charges are very moderate.
I was told a story which illustrates the docility of the sadoe drivers, and the cleverness with which they can trace and identify their "fares."
An English officer from Singapore, whom we will call Brown, was visiting Batavia, and had occasion, in the course of his visit, to drive in a sadoe from the old town to a friend's house in Weltevreden. For some reason or other he became annoyed with the driver, and, having ejected him, proceeded to drive himself. As it was night, he soon became entangled in the maze of streets. At last he reached the large open space called the King's Plain. He was now close to his destination. The only difficulty was to get rid of the sadoe. In order to do this he drove into the middle of the plain. He waited until the horse began to graze quietly, and then "made tracks" as quickly as might be for his friend's compound. Ultimately he returned to his hotel. The first thing Brown saw, when he got up the next morning, was sadoe, driver, and horse waiting outside his verandah in the courtyard. He grew pale with thoughts of the police; but no, the driver only wanted his fare, which was two florins. Having received this, he retired smiling and contented.
There was a crowd of these sadoes waiting outside the station at Batavia, in one of which I made my way to the Hotel der Nederlanden.
Batavia may be divided (like all Gaul) into three parts. First, there is the business quarter, the oldest, where the houses are tall and built in the style still prevalent in the warm countries of Europe, with balconies and verandahs and widely projecting eaves, and where the streets are narrow. Then there is the Chinese Campong, which, with the adjacent streets, occupies the central portion of the town, containing the bulk of the population closely packed in their curious dwellings. And, lastly, there is Weltevreden, the Dutch town, where the officials, the military, and the merchants reside. The town is traversed from end to end by the railway, which passes through from Tanjong Priok to Buitenzorg and Bandong; and by the tramway, which runs from the town gate in the north to the statue of Meester Cornelis in the south. It is also divided by the stream called the Kali Bezar, or Great River, and intersected by numerous canals. The pavements are of red brick, and the roads covered with a reddish dust; indeed, the prevailing tone of the whole place is a warm red-brown, varied by salmon-pink and green masonry, and generously interspersed with bright yellow, deep crimson, and olive-green foliage, though not unfrequently a spreading waringin tree or a group of feathery palms overtops the general mass. Additional colour is given by the natives, who are clothed in light cottons and silken stuffs of delicate tones and graceful shapes, carried with an easy carelessness and unfailing novelty of combination. Sometimes they are gathered into dark brown masses round the base of some one of the many bridges which span the river or canals, prepared for the luxury of the tropics—an afternoon bathe.
All three quarters are possessed of a separate beauty. The elaborately carved pediments and ponderous doors, the heavy balconies and eaves of the houses, give an old-world quaintness to the first, which is enhanced by the crowd of many-shaped and variously coloured boats that line the quays that front the offices on either side of the Great River. Nothing could be more delightful than the setting of the red-tiled roofs, with their dragon-decorated ridges and parapets, on the wooden trellis fronts and canvas blinds of the Chinese houses. Weltevreden, too, is not without attractions. The broad porticoes of dazzling white, with their Ionic columns and marble floors, are often set in a fair surrounding of green trees. The compounds and gardens are always verdant, and sometimes radiant with bright-leaved shrubs and flowers. Especially the broad green-covered squares and the wide roads arched with noble trees speak of coolness and repose in a hot and weary land. On the outskirts of the town, along the country roads, where the cocoa palm and banana plantations begin, are the bamboo cottages of the Sundanese natives.
But it is after nightfall that this place becomes a veritable fairyland. The open porticoes of the Dutch houses are seen to be thronged with gaily dressed people, the ladies often still wearing the sarong, and looking like AEneas' mother—
"Proved to be a goddess by her stately tread,"
and in harmony with the pillars and pediments about them. Everywhere lights gleam through foliage, and ever and again, through an air instinct with electric movement and heavy with perfumes, strains of music reach the ear from the open doorways, or are wafted in the distance from one of the numerous military bands, which are ever "discoursing sweet music" to the society of the capital. In the centre of the town the native streets look, to the European eye, like a perpetual festival. Outside the doors are gathered in groups the various inhabitants—Chinese, Malay, or Sundanese, some clanging cymbals and other strange instruments of music, others seated round fires, eating baked cakes or fruits and other frugal dainties. Meanwhile the streets are alive with the rush of numerous cahars and sadoes, drawn by the agile native pony, and with itinerant vendors, who, bearing their baskets suspended from their shoulders by the pikulan, or cross-piece, each with a lamp fixed to the rearmost basket, flit to and fro noiselessly on their bare feet.
[Footnote 10: Native carriage much like the sadoe, but never used by Europeans.]
The business quarter, like the "city" in London, is thronged with merchants and carriages, carts and coolies, and all the machinery of commerce, in the daytime, and entirely deserted at night. The merchants keep their offices open from nine till five, and, in spite of the great heat, work all through the day, with the exception of an hour or so for "tiffin." By this arrangement the early morning and late afternoon, the only time when open-air exercise is possible, is left available for riding or walking. In spite of the romantic exterior of the place, Batavia is not ill-supplied with modern improvements. The tramway system, in which smoke and heat are avoided by the use of a central boiler from which steam is taken for the different locomotives, is especially well suited to the requirements of the climate. The telephone, again, is in constant use both in offices and private houses, although the confusion of languages—Malay, Dutch, and English—makes it a little difficult sometimes to work it. I remember once asking the landlord of the Hotel der Nederlanden to telephone to a man in the town that I was intending to go to Buitenzorg on the following morning, and the terrible difficulty I had to get him to convey my name to the clerk at the other end. After ringing up the central office (which is worked by Malays) and getting the connection he wanted, he said—
"Mr. X—— is not there" (to me).
"All right," I said; "tell the clerk to tell Mr. X——"
But the telephone was now shut off, and the process of connecting had to be gone through again.
"Tell Mr. X—— What is your name?"
"Worsfold," I said.
"Tell Mr. X—— that Mynheer Versfolt——"
"Who?" (from the other end).
"How you spell it?" (to me).
I spelt it.
"Mynheer V-e-a-s-f-o-l-t. Veasfolt, Veasfolt, VEASFOLT."
Here he appealed to a Dutch gentleman who could speak English, and wrote down the name, W-o-r-s-f-o-l-d.
"Tell Mr. X—— that Mynheer—— Listen, I will spell it—W-o-r," etc.
"Oh, never mind; tell him that the Englishman is going to Buitenzorg to-morrow."
"The English gentleman is going to Buitenzorg to-morrow."
"Mynheer Veasfold. I will spell it—W-o-r," etc.
"Yes; what about him?"
"Tell Mr. X—— that Mynheer Veasfolt——"
"Oh, never mind," I said; "Mr. X—— will understand."
But the polite landlord was not satisfied. "It is no trouble; I will tell him."
Then I went away in haste, as the process had already occupied half an hour, and I was telephoning to avoid delay. Five minutes later I passed the bureau. The landlord was still at that wretched instrument. I hurried by without daring to look up, fearing that I should be appealed to again. I dared not even ask whether the message ever reached the office or not.
Beside the town gate—a massive stone arch, with two large iron images on either side, remnants of early victories over the kings of Bantam—there are two buildings of interest in this (business) quarter of the town, the stadthaus, or town hall, and the town church. The former is just such an old Dutch edifice as might be seen in any of the towns of Holland, standing in a tree-planted space. In it are the offices of the Resident and the police authorities. The landraad, or county court, also holds its sittings here; and on the stone terrace in front of the building, the town guard (a native force armed with lances or picks, and therefore called "pickiniers") are generally to be seen drilling. The town church is across the river, on the road to Tanjong Priok. It is given up to a half-caste congregation, but its walls are lined with memorial tablets of former governors, and there are some interesting monuments outside. According to a wooden tablet within, it was built between the years 1693 and 1695 by Pieter Van Hoorn. It contains some handsome silver candelabra and a richly gilt pulpit, and in the vestry there are some handsome old chairs.