ACROSS THE EQUATOR.
[Frontispiece: TEMPLE, PARAMBANAN.]
ACROSS THE EQUATOR.
A HOLIDAY TRIP IN JAVA.
THOS. H. REID.
KELLY & WALSH, LIMITED, SINGAPORE—SHANGHAI—HONGKONG—YOKOHAMA. 1908. [all rights reserved.]
It was at the end of the month of September, 1907, that the writer visited Java with the object of spending a brief vacation there.
The outcome was a series of articles in the "Straits Times," and after they appeared so many applications were made for reprints that we were encouraged to issue the articles in handy form for the information of those who intend to visit the neighbouring Dutch Colony. There was no pretension to write an exhaustive guide-book to the Island, but the original articles were revised and amplified, and the chapters have been arranged to enable the visitor to follow a given route through the Island, from west to east, within the compass of a fortnight or three weeks.
For liberty to reproduce some of the larger pictures, we are indebted to Mr. George P. Lewis (of O. Kurkdjian), Sourabaya, whose photographs of Tosari and the volcanic region of Eastern Java form one of the finest and most artistic collections we have seen of landscape work.
SINGAPORE, July, 1908.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF BATAVIA 1
THE BRITISH IN JAVA 15
BOTANIST'S PARADISE AT BUITENZORG 23
ON THE ROAD TO SINDANGLAYA 33
SINDANGLAYA AND BEYOND 42
HINDU RUINS IN CENTRAL JAVA 49
THE TEMPLES OF PARAMBANAN 58
PEOPLE AND INDUSTRIES OF CENTRAL JAVA 65
THE HEALTH RESORT OF EAST JAVA 73
SUNRISE AT THE PENANDJAAN PASS 77
HOTELS AND TRAVELLING FACILITIES 87
First Impressions of Batavia.
When consideration is given to the fact that Java is only two days' steaming from Singapore, that it is more beautiful in some respects than Japan, that it contains marvellous archaeological remains over 1,100 years old, and that its hill resorts form ideal resting places for the jaded European, it is strange that few of the British residents throughout the Far East, or travellers East and West, have visited the Dutch Colony.
The average Britisher, weaving the web of empire, passes like a shuttle in the loom from London to Yokohama, from Hongkong to Marseilles. He thinks imperially in that he thinks no other nation has Colonies worth seeing. British port succeeds British port on the hackneyed line of travel, and he may be excused if he forgets that these convenient calling places, these links of Empire, can have possible rivals under foreign flags.
There is no excuse for the prevailing ignorance of the Netherland Indies. We do not wish it to be inferred that we imagine we have discovered Java, as Dickens is said to have discovered Italy, but we believe we are justified in saying that few have realised the possibilities of Java as a health resort and the attractions it has to offer for a holiday.
Miss Marianne North, celebrated as painter and authoress and the rival of Miss Mary Kingsley and Mrs. Bishop (Isabella Bird) as a traveller in unfrequented quarters of the globe, has described the island as one magnificent garden, surpassing Brazil, Jamaica and other countries visited by her, and possessing the grandest of volcanoes; and other famous travellers have written in terms of the highest praise of its natural beauties.
Its accessibility is one of its recommendations to the holiday maker. The voyage across the Equator from Singapore is a smooth one, for the most part through narrow straits and seldom out of sight of islands clad with verdure down to the water's edge.
Excellent accommodation is provided by the Rival Dutch Mail steamers running between Europe and Java and the Royal Packet Company's local steamers, and the Government of the Netherland Indies co-operates with a recently-formed Association for the encouragement of tourist traffic on the lines of the Welcome Society in Japan. This Association has a bureau, temporarily established in the Hotel des Indes in Batavia, to provide information and travelling facilities for tourists, not only throughout Java, but amongst the various islands that are being brought under the sway of civilised government by the Dutch Colonial forces.
As our steamer pounded her way out of Singapore Harbour in the early morning, islands appeared to spring out of the sea, and seascape after seascape followed in rapid succession, suggesting the old-fashioned panoramic pictures of childhood's acquaintance. One's idea of scenery, after all, is more or less a matter of comparison. One passenger compares the scene with the Kyles of Bute; another with the Inland Sea of Japan, at the other end of the world. Yet, this tropical waterway is unlike either, and has a characteristic individuality of its own, none the less charming because of the comparisons it suggests and the associations it recalls.
We spent a good deal of our time on the bridge with the Captain, who was courteous enough to point out all the leading points on his chart.
The Sultanate of Rhio lies on the port bow, four hours' sail from Singapore. Glimpses of Sumatra are obtained on the starboard, and on the way the steamer passes near to the Island of Banka, reputed to contain the richest tin deposits in the world. This tin is worked by the Government of the Netherland Indies, with Chinese contract labour; and the revenue obtained is an important factor in balancing the Colonial Budget. It is interesting to note that the Chinese, who have long mined for gold and tin in the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago, were quite familiar with the rich nature of Banka's soil two hundred years ago, and that tin from this island was then a common medium of exchange in China and throughout the Far East wherever the adventurous Chinese merchant had penetrated.
The visitor landing at Tandjong Priok, the port of Batavia, after his experience of other Far Eastern ports, cannot fail to be struck by the excellence of the arrangements for berthing vessels and for storing cargo. We British people are so accustomed to the idea that our ports are the best and our trading arrangements unequalled that we are astonished when we discover that our shipping and commercial rivals know how to do some things better than ourselves, and that all wisdom is not to be found within the confines of England and among the people who are proud to own it as their place of birth. Our Far Eastern ports owe their supremacy to geographical position almost entirely. We have realised that during recent years in Singapore, and in our haste to correct the mistakes of former officials and residents, the Straits Settlements paid rather heavily when they expropriated the Tanjong Pagar Company which owned the wharves, docks and warehouses. Tandjong Priok may not handle the shipping that Tanjong Pagar does, but if they were called upon to do so, we have not the least doubt that our Dutch neighbours would rise readily to the occasion.
There is a Customs examination at Tandjong Priok. In our own case, it was a mere formality, the new duty on imported cameras not applying to our well-used kodak, since it was being taken out of the country again. But we could not help contrasting to the disadvantage of Singapore the examination of Chinese and other Asiatic passengers. Theoretically, in Singapore, there is no Customs service. It is a free port, and so, theoretically, one may land there free of vexatious examinations, such as one experiences at some Continental ports or on the wharves at San Francisco. But, as a matter of fact, they who have occasion to walk along the sea front in Singapore may see Asiatic passengers at any of the landing places turning out their baggage in sun or rain, while chentings—the hirelings of the rich Chinese Syndicate which "farms" or leases the opium and spirit monopolies—examine it for opium or spirits. There is no proper landing place, absolutely no proper arrangements for overhauling baggage, with the result that these poor Asiatics are subjected to examination under conditions that are a disgrace to a place which arrogates a front place in the seaports of the world.
They do things better at Tandjong Priok.
There is a brief journey by train to Batavia, and there the visitor, having handed over his baggage to the care of the hotel runners at Tandjong Priok, ought to take a sado for conveyance to the particular hotel he has selected. The word sado is a corruption of "dos-a-dos." The vehicle is drawn by a small pony, and is not comparable with the ricksha for comfort, though the long distances may make the ricksha an impossibility in Batavia.
Batavia is favoured in that it has a choice of several good hotels. Whoever selects the Hotel Nederland or the Hotel des Indes will say that the other "best Hotels in the Far East" have something yet to learn in the accommodation of visitors, general cleanliness, and moderation of prices.
One of the first things one ought to do after arrival is to obtain the "toelatings kaart," at the Town Hall. Armed with this document, which, most probably, he will never be called upon to show, the tourist may travel in the interior. Without it, he may have trouble.
Batavia shares with the French ports of Saigon and Hanoi the honour of more resembling a European town than any other ports in the Far East. This, of course, is a matter of opinion, though it is based on acquaintance with every port of importance from Yokohama to Penang, including the principal ports of the Philippines, and we were somewhat surprised, therefore, when expressing this opinion to a Dutch friend, with his reply:
"When I left Singapore, with its fine buildings I felt I had said good-bye to Europe!"
A little probing soon showed that it was only the two and three-storeyed houses that created this impression.
One has only to stroll along the Noordwijk in the afternoon and evening to appreciate the difference between Batavia and Singapore. After sundown, so far as Europeans are concerned, with the exception of the little life seen under the electric light of Raffles Hotel and the Hotel de l'Europe, Singapore is a dead place. Hongkong is no better. In Batavia it is different. Up to the dinner hour, and after, there is a considerable amount of life and light and animation, and if it be a stretch of the imagination to compare the Noordwijk or the Rizwijk with the Boulevard des Capuchins in Paris, or its open air restaurants with the Cafe de la Paix, it is at least within comparison to say that the resemblance to a Continental town is sufficiently marked to be welcome, while one can have as choice a dinner or supper, with superb wines, in Stamm and Weijns or the Hotel des Indes as in the best restaurants of London and Paris. Not the least noticeable feature of all to the observant visitor will be the punctilio and excellence of the waiting of the Javanese table boys. When one saw the carefulness with which each dish was served, and the superior nature of the side dishes, one thought with a shudder of the sloppy vegetables, the dusty marmalade, and the slipshod waiting of the China boy in some of the hotels it had been our misfortune to patronise in British Colonies.
In this quarter, the wives and daughters of the Dutch and foreign merchants drive in comfortable rubber-tyred carriages, having first driven to the business quarter to bring home the "tuan besar" or head of the family. Greetings are exchanged with friends by the way, and, while the young folks stroll off in happy groups, the elders alight to drink beer or wine at one or other of the famous open-air restaurants. There is a general air of prosperity and a spirit of gaiety which one does not usually associate with our Dutch cousins in the depressing humid atmosphere of Holland. One soon catches the spirit of the place the more readily if one has spent any time on the Continent.
On band nights the Harmonic or Concordia Clubs, two beautiful and commodious buildings replete with every comfort, become the rendezvous of old and young, and dancing is kept up till half-past eight o'clock. It must be confessed that it made one perspire to see the dancers tread a measure to a popular waltz, but there could be no question of the enjoyment of those who participated.
There are two Batavias. There is the old town, founded in 1619 as the capital of the Dutch East Indies upon the ruins of the ancient city of Jakatra. This is the portion of the town where the business is done, with the famous Kali Besar, the Lombard Street and Fenchurch Street of Batavia.
The quarter is not particularly attractive. But after experience of the filthy Chinese quarters of Singapore, Hongkong and Shanghai, it is satisfying to European self-respect to observe how Dutch officialdom has asserted the claims of hygiene and cleanliness upon the Asiatic residents. The objectionable hanging Chinese signboards are noticeably absent in Batavia, as in all other towns throughout Java, and something has been done to make less clamant the odoriferous articles of Chinese commerce. The Dutch have proved that the Chinese are amenable to European notions if only firmness is shown by those in authority.
Then there is the residential town, Weltervreden with its broad tree-lined avenues and palatial pavilion hotels and private villa establishments.
In style, the European houses are quite unlike those erected by the Spaniards in the Philippine Islands, or the British in the Malay Peninsula. They are not raised to any great height from the ground. Three or four wide low steps lead on to a capacious white marble verandah, the lofty roof of which is supported by shapely pillars with Grecian cornices. Upon the polished surface of the ample hall are strewn rugs of beautiful design or the fancy straw matting of the East. Bed-rooms open on either side from this hall, and at the back, opening out upon a spacious court-yard or garden filled with gaily coloured flowers or stately palms, is another wide verandah where meals are served. The bath-rooms, kitchen, stables, store-rooms and servants' quarters lie beyond the garden. There is everywhere a generous appreciation of space, and doubtless the good health enjoyed by the Dutch ladies and their families so markedly in contrast to the British colonists on the other side of the Equator is largely due to the more comfortable homes in which they are settled. In Java, the bath-room is a special feature, and only those who have travelled much in tropical countries can appraise it at its true value. It is all in keeping with the thorough cleanliness of the Dutch people, a feature which impressed itself upon us wherever we travelled throughout the island. Detached from every house of any pretensions, there is a smaller pavilion. It usually stands in the grounds in front and nearer the roadway, and in former times was spoken of as "the guest house." Nowadays, either because the Hotels are more comfortable than in olden times or because the railway system has led to a style of life that calls for less hospitality for travellers, the guest house is more often let to bachelors, who find it easier and cheaper to maintain a small establishment of this sort than the bachelor messes or chummeries of Singapore and Penang.
Weltervreden may be compared with a gigantic park, and there are residences sufficiently imposing to please the lover of architectural beauty, even if there is no assertive Clock Tower to emphasise by contrast the hovels of Singapore's region of slums. The idea of keeping the various races to their Kampongs may be contrary to British ideas, but in Java it appears to work satisfactorily enough. It is only in recent years that certain British colonies have been allowed to set apart reservations for European residence, and it would be well if the Government of the Federated Malay States, before it is too late, introduced the Kampong system in laying out new towns throughout the Peninsula.
A motor-car ride through the residential quarter and round the suburbs of Batavia gives one a good idea of the extent of the town, and, incidentally, of the merging of East and West in the population. Former Dutch residents have left their impress in more respects than one, and one result is a half-caste population which takes a much more prominent part in the affairs of the island than is the case, so far as we are aware, in any British Colony. There are pretty forms and beautiful faces among this hybrid race, and we are not astonished that succeeding generations from the land of dykes and canals should form alliances that wed them for ever to the sunny soil of Java. East may be East and West may be West, but here at least the lie is given to Kipling's generalisation, false like most generalisations, as to the impossibility of their blending.
The visitor will find the Museums full of objects of interest. On Koningsplein, young Holland devotes itself to recreation, and evidence is given here and elsewhere throughout the suburbs of the widespread popularity of the English game of football. The Dutch do not follow the British Colonial custom of sending their children to Europe. Many are educated and kept under the home influence in Java, and a fine healthy race of boys and girls is being reared to play its part in the new Netherlands created by Dutch enterprise and perseverance. Great as is the Java of the present day, there is justification for believing that it has a greater future in store.
The British in Java
It is a constant matter of regret to British travellers who have visited Java that the island, once in our possession, should have been restored to Dutch rule.
It is not our purpose, however, to discuss the reasons for that restoration, contenting ourselves with the reflection that the capture of Java was merely part of the plan for breaking the power of Napoleon and destroying his dream of dominating the East. The alliance of European Powers having succeeded in encompassing the great Frenchman's downfall, there were doubtless good reasons at the time for reinstating the Dutch in an island where they had been established for two hundred years.
A perusal of the history of the British Expedition against Java brings into strong relief the annihilation of space and the improvements in marine travel during the past century.
It was on April 18, 1811, that the troopships carrying the first Division, commanded by Colonel Robert Rollo Gillespie, sailed from Madras Roads. On May 18, they anchored in Penang Harbour, and on June 1, at Malacca. Here they awaited the remainder of the flotilla, and were joined by Lord Minto, then Viceroy of India; Lieutenant-General Sir Samuel Auchmuty, Commander-in-Chief; and Commodore Broughton. While here, the British learned that Marshal Daendels, the Dutch Governor-General, had been recalled, and that General Janssens, with a large body of troops from France, had landed and taken over the command in Java.
Marshal Daendels had been the Governor-General when the Colony was taken over by the Crown of Holland from the Dutch East India Company. He has left the mark of his influence upon the Colony to this day, and many of the public works that remain as evidence of the pioneer days were due to his force of character and initiative. Some of his methods may not commend themselves to us in these more humane and enlightened days, any more than they were approved by his great English successor, Sir Stamford Raffles, such, for instance, as his construction of the post-road from Anjer Head to Banjoewangi, a distance of over 700 miles, at the cost of from twelve to twenty thousand lives; but it is not always easy to estimate at a distance of a hundred years the peculiar difficulties and conditions under which European Governors administered an oriental Colony. If, at times, he exceeded his instructions, as British Governors also had to do before they came under the thralldom of a Colonial Department at the end of a telegraph cable, we can forgive much in a man who accomplished so much.
Sir Stamford Raffles is careful to explain in the preface of his "History of Java" that as "in the many severe strictures passed upon the Dutch Administration in Java, some of the observations may, for want of a careful restriction in the words employed, appear to extend to the Dutch nation and character generally, I think it proper explicitly to declare that such observations are intended exclusively to apply to the Colonial Government and its officers. The orders of the Dutch Government in Holland to the authorities at Batavia, as far as my information extends, breathe a spirit of liberality and benevolence; and I have reason to believe that the tyranny and rapacity of its Colonial officers created no less indignation in Holland than in other countries of Europe."
On June 11, the British armada set out on the final stage of its journey. We can imagine the imposing show it made as it lay in the roadstead of Malacca, now shorn of its ancient importance and long since superseded as the foremost shipping port in the Far East.
The squadron consisted of four line of battle ships, fourteen frigates, seven sloops, eight Honourable East India Company's cruisers, fifty-seven transports and several gunboats—altogether over 100 sail. Composed equally of European and Indian troops, there were upwards of 10,000 men under Sir Samuel Auchmuty's command. The European troops included the 14th, 59th, 69th, 78th, and 89th Regiments of Infantry, Royal Artillery, and Royal Marines, and a small detachment of Royal Engineers.
A course was set for a rendezvous off the coast of Borneo, and on August 4, 1811, a landing was effected at Chillingching, a village about ten miles east of Batavia. To the astonishment of the British Commander, his landing was not opposed, the defending force being concentrated in the neighbourhood of Weltervreden and Meister Cornelius, to-day the thriving residential suburbs of Batavia.
General Janssens rejected Lord Minto's summons to surrender.
On August 10, Batavia was in the hands of the British troops, and on that day, after two hours of hard fighting, Weltervreden was captured, the 78th Highlanders having a heavy casualty list amongst their officers.
The French troops bravely contended every foot of ground, and battles, with heavy losses on both sides, were fought on August 22, August 24, and August 26. Colonel Gillespie, who led the advance in each of these engagements, performed prodigies of bravery in the latter fight, for we read that "Colonel Gillespie took one General in the batteries, one in the charge, and a Colonel, besides having a personal affair in which another Colonel fell by his arm."
Altogether, the British captured three General officers, 34 field officers, 70 captains and 150 subaltern officers in these fights.
The rout of the enemy was complete. General Janssens made his escape to Buitenzorg, thirty miles distant, with a few cavalrymen and the remnants of his army of 13,000 men. He did not remain here long, but fled eastwards.
A British force was shipped to Cheribon, where a large number of French officers were captured; and the port of Samarang was next attacked, with the object of forcing General Janssens back upon Solo, while the eastern end of the island was occupied by another British force. On September 10, an action was fought outside Samarang, and Janssens, defeated, retreated to Fort Salatiga; but eventually, being deserted by his troops, he opened up negotiations for capitulation.
This must have been a bitter experience for General Janssens, for it was not only the crowning misery of his defeat but marked the end of his military career, assuming that his Imperial master retained his power in Europe.
"Souvenez vous, Monsieur," Napoleon is reported to have said to him upon taking up his appointment, "Qu'un General Francais ne se laissa pas prendre une seconde fois!"
The island having been wrested from the French, the British authorities set about the reform of the civil administration. This was not to be accomplished, however, without a test of strength between the natives and their new masters. An act of treachery soon called the troops into the field again.
During the Governorship of Marshal Daendels, the Sultan of Djocjakarta had been the most turbulent and intriguing of the native princes, and his conduct immediately after the British occupation gave occasion for serious uneasiness. Mr. Stamford Raffles, who had been appointed by Lord Minto Lieutenant-Governor of Java in December, 1811, went in person to see the Sultan. A treaty was entered into, under which the Sultan confirmed to the Honourable East India Company all the privileges, advantages and prerogatives which had been possessed by the Dutch and French authorities. To the Company also were transferred the sole regulation of the duties and the collection of tribute within the dominions of the Sultan, as well as the general administration of justice in cases where British interests were concerned.
This expedition of Mr. Raffles seems to have had exciting experiences, for we read:
"The small British escort which accompanied Mr. Raffles, consisting only of a part of the 14th Regiment, a troop of the 22nd Light Dragoons and the ordinary garrison of Bengal Sepoys in the Fort and at the Residency, were not in a condition to enforce terms anyway obnoxious to the personal feelings of the Sultan. The whole retinue, indeed, of the Governor were in imminent danger of being murdered. Krises were actually unsheathed by several of the Sultan's own suite in the Audience Hall where Mr. Raffles received that Prince, who was accompanied by several thousands of armed followers expressing in their behaviour such an infuriated spirit of insolence as openly to indicate that they only waited for the signal to perpetrate the work of destruction, in which case not a man of our brave soldiers, from the manner in which they were surrounded, could have escaped."
For a time, however, an open breach of the peace was averted by the tact of Mr. Raffles and the outward appearance of bravery of the officers and men accompanying him.
Several expeditions were made into the interior to put down petty brigands, in much the same way as the Dutch are engaged in Flores and Celebes to-day, and a more imposing display of military force had to be made in Sumatra.
In the following year, the Sultan of Mataram in Djocjakarta again became troublesome, and it was found necessary to send a strong expedition against him. On June 20, the famous Water Castle at Djocjakarta was captured by assault, and the Sultan taken prisoner. He was exiled to Prince of Wales Island (Penang), and the Hereditary Prince was placed on the throne. The ruling native at Solo, who rejoiced in the imposing title of Emperor, made terms with the Lieutenant-Governor, and peace was established throughout the island, and was not disturbed seriously during the remainder of the British occupation.
Mr. Raffles set himself to establish a more humane administration than had hitherto prevailed, and anyone who wishes to realise the thoroughness with which this able administrator set himself to the task should read his "History of Java." It is replete with shrewd observations of the native customs, industries, antecedents, and languages, and shows how little change has been effected in the character and domestic customs of the people during the last hundred years.
The essence of his policy of administration is contained in the following sentence written by him:—"Let the higher departments be scrupulously superintended and watched by Europeans of character; let the administration of justice be pure, prompt and steady;" and it is satisfactory to one's sense of patriotism to know that that is the spirit which pervades British administration in her Crown Colonies to-day.
Botanist's Paradise at Buitenzorg.
To the Singaporean visitor to Java there is a melancholy interest in the little monument erected in the Garden at Buitenzorg by Sir Stamford Raffles to the memory of his wife, who died during his residence there.
In the conditions under which the island was restored to Holland, it was stipulated that the monument, in the form of a little Greek temple, should be cared for by the Dutch. The trust has been fulfilled, and those of us who take interest in the historic chances and changes of Britain's possessions in the Far East and the personal influence of the builders of the Empire, can find food for reflection in the sacrifices made by those men and women who are ever found on the Empire's frontiers. The sight of this memorial among the kanari trees in the tropical island of Java makes us think of the tablet in the little parish church on the hill at Hendon, near which this woman's husband lies buried.
The inscription runs as follows:—
"Sacred to the memory of Olivia Marianne, wife of Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Java and its dependencies, who died at Buitenzorg on the 26th November, 1814.
"Oh thou whom ne'er my constant heart One moment hath forgot. Tho' fate severe hath bid us part Yet still—forget me not."
The traveller who has only a fortnight or three weeks to devote to Java must awake betimes. In any event, he must needs be early to take advantage of the express trains, and in our case we had only a day to devote to Buitenzorg, where the Governor-General of the Netherland Indies has his palace.
With the exception of the short run from Tandjong Priok, it was our first acquaintance with the railway service, and when we saw the crowd awaiting to entrain at Weltervreden Station we decided to travel first-class, contrary to the advice of our friends. It was well we did so on this occasion, for the train was overcrowded; but afterwards we travelled only by the second-class, and found it as comfortable as one could wish. Indeed, so few persons travel in the first-class compartments of the trains that we are astonished that any are retained by the management. Throughout Java we found the railway service excellent in every respect. The carriages are comfortable. Ample accommodation is given for each person. It is possible to stow away a considerable amount of barang or baggage in the carriages, and full advantage is taken of this facility by the Dutch and native travellers. The lavatory accommodation is better than we have seen it in the fast expresses on the principal lines in England, and on the through service expresses there are restaurant cars where meals may be partaken of at a moderate tariff. We cannot say we always found the food palatable, for the Chinamen who are in charge appear to have a fixed idea that the "beef-stuk," which is the piece de resistance, should be served up raw. In course of time, doubtless, the railway management will be able to turn its attention to the commissariat arrangements, with a view to their improvement, and, when they do so, we hope they will leave out the beefsteak altogether and provide more variety and daintier, more inviting, and more palatable viands.
A fair rate of speed is maintained, and it is possible to go from Batavia to Sourabaya, at the other end of the island, in two days. The trains, of course, as in the Federated Malay States, run only from sunrise to sundown, and the through traveller between the two principal towns must sleep the night at Maos, where a commodious pasanggrahan or rest-house provides clean, comfortable accommodation and wholesome food. Only on two occasions were we belated on the railway, and both instances were due to the one cause,—a wash-out on the line at Moentilan, the result of a severe thunder and rain storm on the previous day and night. The train was run down cautiously to the gap, passengers crossed over on a temporary bridge to the train waiting on the other side, and the baggage was transferred by a host of coolies. All this had to be done in a torrential rain-storm, but the railway officials did all in their power to make the conditions as little disagreeable as possible, and the only inconvenience was the late arrival of some of the baggage at Djocjakarta.
There was not much of interest on the morning run to Buitenzorg, but the Dutch lady who carried on an animated conversation with four gentlemen for the whole of the hour and a half introduced to us the possibilities for expression in the Dutch equivalents of "Yes" and "No."
We had been prepared by Miss Scidmore's book for the beauties of Buitenzorg, and for once expectation was more than realised.
The Dutch Governor-General van Imhoff was certainly well advised when he selected this position as the official residence of the Governor-General, and the Dutch horticulturists, than whom there are probably none better, deserve to be congratulated upon the garden city they have created out of the primeval jungle.
Part of the old palace was built by Governor-General Mossel, one hundred and fifty years ago, and the original received additions during the reigns of Daendels and Raffles. This structure was destroyed by an earthquake in 1834, and the new palace, the first glimpse of which one receives across an artificial lake, is a worthy residence for the administrator of the Dutch Indies. The surface of the lake is studded with lotus flowers and victoria regia, and the little island in the centre displays a wealth of the red or rajah palm, feathery yellow bamboo, and dark-green foliage which the lake mirrors in ever-changing pictures.
An Alma Tadema or a Marcus Stone would revel in the flowers and marbles of the palace, with its broad stairs and corridors and fine Ionian columns and cornices; and a Landseer or a MacWhirter might find endless subjects in the deer park by which it is surrounded.
The garden is a botanist's paradise. Tropical treasures from Nature's storehouse, collected by successive Directors, are arranged with care and precision characteristically Dutch. It was established in 1817 by Professor Reinwardt, and many distinguished botanists who have left their mark in the scientific world studied here and added to the collections. As may be imagined, the Dutch were not content with a mere show place for tropical specimens, and they established five mountain gardens where experiments are conducted, for practical and scientific purposes, in the cultivation of flowers, plants, vegetables and trees usually found in temperate regions. These gardens are situated in the mountains to the south—at Tjipanas, Tjibodas, Tjibeureum, Kadang Badoh, and on the top of Mount Pangerango, that is to say, at heights ranging from 3,500 ft. to 10,000 ft. The garden at Tjibodas remains, and at the Governor-General's summer villa at Tjipanas one might imagine one's-self in a private garden in Surrey or Kent.
In the buildings at Buitenzorg, facilities are afforded for foreign students, and at the time of our visit a Japanese Professor, from the Tokio University, who had studied for three and a half years in Berlin, was making an exhaustive investigation on scientific lines. Everything that can be of service to students of botany is to be found here in the museum, herbarium and library.
The general herbarium has been arranged on the Kew model. Besides a large collection of plants made by Zollinger between 1845 and 1858, it contains the valuable collections gathered by Teysmann, between 1854 and 1870, throughout the Malay Archipelago. Specimens by Kurz and Scheffer are also found, together with other recent collections of plants from Borneo and adjacent islands. Duplicates from the Herbarium at Kew Gardens and from several of the more famous European herbaria are to be found here, as well as numerous specimens from the botanical institutions of the British Colonies.
The Herbarium Horti contains the necessary materials for the compilation of the new catalogue of the Botanic Gardens, and the Herbarium Bogoriense contains plants to be found in the neighbourhood of Buitenzorg.
Besides specimens of fruits, there is a comprehensive technical collection in the Botanical Museum—fibres, commercial specimens of rattan, india-rubber, and gutta-percha, barks for tanning purposes, Peruvian barks, vegetable oils, indigo samples, various kinds of meal, resins and damars. There is also a section devoted to forest and staple produce.
Fuller details of the gardens and environs of Buitenzorg may be found in the handbook published by Messrs. G. Kolff and Co., Batavia.
One need not be wholly a scientific investigator to appreciate the beauties of Buitenzorg. There is here one view which has been described over and over again, oftentimes in the language of hyperbole—the view of the Tjidani Valley from the verandah of Bellevue Hotel. It is, indeed, difficult to avoid the use of extravagant language in the attempt to describe this beauty spot of Nature.
Though he was writing of a beautiful woman, F. Marion Crawford might have been describing some beautiful landscape when he wrote in his own exquisite style:—
"I think that true beauty is beyond description; you may describe the changeless faultless outlines of a statue to a man who has seen good statues and can recall them; you can, perhaps, find words to describe the glow and warmth and deep texture of a famous picture, and what you write will mean something to those who know the master's work; you may even conjure up an image before untutored eyes. But neither minute description nor well-turned phrase, neither sensuous adjective nor spiritual smile can tell half the truth of a beautiful living thing."
The noble Roman, prompted to exclaim "Behold the Tiber" as he stood on the summit of Kinnoull Hill and gazed upon the fertile valley of Scotland's noblest stream, saw no fairer sight than this veritable Garden of Eden in Equatorial Java.
Seen in the afternoon when the setting sun is casting long shadows over the landscape, the scene in the Tjidani Valley is calculated to arouse the artistic senses of the most insusceptible. Miles away, the Salak raises his majestic cone against the blue sky. In the distance, the mountain forms a purple background for the picture, purple flecked with soft white patches of floating cloud. Beneath his massive form, colour is lost in shadowy but closer at hand are the dark pervading greens of the trees and vegetation, palms and tree ferns and banana trees helping by their graceful form to provide the truely tropical features, while the equally graceful clumps of bamboo sway and creak in the light breeze, their pointed leaves supplying that perpetual flutter and movement which one associates with the birches and beeches of one's native land. The cultivated patches on hillside and valley are rich in colour. Here, the yellow paddy is ripening for the sickle; there, it is bright green; alongside, the patient buffaloes are dragging a clumsy wooden plough through water-covered soil to prepare for the next crop. The lake-like patches reflect weird outlines, and one almost imagines that they catch the brilliant colours from the sun-painted clouds.
Down the valley, crossing the picture from left to right is the river—the Tjidani,—a broad shallow stream when we saw it, in which men, women and children are constantly bathing. From the compact kampong nestling among the trees, the native women, clad in bright coloured sarongs, came with babies, who take to the water as if it were their natural element. Merry shouts of laughter ascend from the valley as the youngsters splash about and chase each other. Everything suggests beauty and peace and contentment, and as one drinks in the scene it is borne in upon one that the comparison with the Garden of Eden is not inapt. What could one wish for more than a beautiful, bounteous land and a happy, contented people!
On the Road to Sindanglaya
Long before sunrise, the sound of merry voices arose from the valley. Already the natives were bathing in the Tjidani, and, when the light came, the primeval life on which the sun had gone down was reproduced in the model-like scene spread out before us. Our kreta for the journey over the Poentjak Pass had been ordered for six o'clock, but with un-Oriental punctuality it was a quarter-past live when the sound of carriage wheels broke in upon our dreams.
While we sipped our morning coffee,—Java hotel coffee has improved since Miss Scidmore anathematised it in 1899,—the sun's rays began to peep over the shoulder of the Salak, and dispelled the morning mists on river and valley. The Salak's fretwork crater stood out entirely clear—his form a purple background to the picture gradually unfolding itself. Nature was everywhere awake. Children's voices in play blended with the songs of early workers proceeding to the fields. Butterflies flitted and floated like detached petals from the flowers. Distance converted human figures into larger butterflies, yellow and orange, pink and blue and red. If it were beautiful in the evening, the scene was enchanting in the morning, and it was with reluctance that we obeyed the summons to early breakfast, and followed our barang into the kreta to begin the journey to Sindanglaya.
It was half-past six o'clock when we were salaamed out of the courtyard of the Bellevue by the hotel "boys."
The kreta was not a handsome affair. In fact it was one of the most disreputable vehicles it has ever been our misfortune to travel in, and when we made acquaintance of the road it had to travel over we must give the owner credit for an abundant faith in the toughness of the kreta. It was a cross between the carromata of the Philippines and a covered dog-cart. There was no aid to mount. By a series of gymnastics we managed to get into the driver's seat—our own was behind his but also facing to the front. In attempting to get there, a sudden movement of the team sent us plunging into the barang, and, in extricating ourselves, head came in contact with the roof and hat went overboard.
Eventually we went off with a bound along the main street of Buitenzorg, scattering the fowls obtaining a precarious living in the roadway, and sending cats and dogs and goats flying for safety into the houses.
We had now time to examine the points of our team. It was composed of three tiny Battak ponies. Two were brown, and one a piebald in which a dingy chestnut strove for mastery with a dingier white. No two ponies were the same in size. One was in the shafts; the other two were in traces alongside. They tapered in size from right to left—the piebald on the left. The giant of the group had a nasty temper, and when lashed, as he was frequently during the drive, vented his anger upon the patient brute doing the lion's share of the work in the shafts. Upon the whole they did their work extremely well, for a great deal was asked of them, and they scarcely deserved the almost continuous flogging to which they were subjected by our driver.
Having travelled over the road from Buitenzorg to Sindanglaya by the Poentjak, without reserve, we advise pilgrims to Sindanglaya to patronise the road from Tjiandjoer. The local guide book remarks with truth: "The main road to the Poentjak being very steep, it does not afford a quick mode of travelling. At Toegoe, an extra team of horses must be added—or karbouws (water buffaloes) used instead of the horses, to pull the carriage at a slow pace up the mountain. Good walkers may, therefore, be advised to do this part of the road on foot, which will take them about an hour and a half. By doing so they will be more able to admire this marvellous work of Governor-General Daendels."
We suspect there is a touch of Dutch satire in this last remark. We have travelled the road, and we are not prepared to parody the old Scot's saying:—
"If you'd seen this road before it was made, You'd lift up your hands and bless General Wade"
Daendels may have been an admirable gentleman, a brave soldier, and a clever administrator, but his engineering skill did not equal his other qualities. It would have been much better if the road had never been made. Surely no highway was ever more badly graded, and we are not astonished that a practical people like the Dutch set themselves to construct a more sensible road by way of Tjitjoeroeg and Soekaboemie. We have seen paved mountain paths in China more inaccessible, but not much, and when we dashed up to the Sindanglaya Hotel at 12.15, we thought more highly of the team that had pulled us over the Pass than we could have believed when we formed our first early morning prejudices.
Needless to say, it is not a road for a motor car. It would be inadvisable to adopt this route to Sindanglaya if the party included ladies. But, if they have a taste for mountaineering, baggage should be sent by rail to Tjiandjoer under the care of some of the party, and carriages dispensed with at Toegoe and the remainder of the journey made on foot. As it was, a good deal of our journey up had to be made on foot over unblinded loose road metal.
Going down the other side the driver led the ponies for about a quarter of a mile, and then joined us in the kreta. That downward trip was the most perilous we ever made in anything that runs on wheels, except a train journey from Manila to Malolos during the Filipino insurrection in 1899. Jack London, the Californian novelist, once told us that life would not be worth living if it were not for the thrills. We had more thrills than we care to have crowded into one hour on that down-grade run from Poentjak to Sindanglaya. Several times, we retrimmed at the request of the driver, and we kept the barang from falling upon him, while he manipulated our three rakish adventurers from Battak. When an unusually severe lurch nearly precipitated us into the deep storm-water channel on the left or the carefully-irrigated paddy fields on the right, Jehu turned round and grinned a grin of fiendish appreciation, whilst we thanked with fervour the merciful Providence who preserved us from destruction, and wondered how long one could hold out with a broken limb, without surgical help, should the worst happen. It is the unexpected that happens. We got to Sindanglaya without any more serious damage than a bottle of Odol distributed amongst our best clothes.
Governor-General Daendels seems to have had a high opinion of this remarkable highway. We read: "The obstinacy with which he carried through his scheme of constructing the main road to the Preanger Regencies across this summit is really amazing. He never shrank from the terrible death-rate among the wretched labourers, nor from the difficulties and enormous cost to keep such a road in good condition, for, especially in the west monsoon, heavy rain-showers are continually washing the earth off the road. Yet it was by no means necessary." Let this be Governor-General Daendels' epitaph!
Had not one's attention been distracted by the eccentric performances of the kreta, one might well have admired the scenery. Close at hand, the road teems with fascinating pictures of native life. Only occasionally does one see a really beautiful face, but there is a pretty shyness such as one seldom sees on the roads of a European country. Although we read of the thirty millions of people in Java, there is still, apparently, room for more, and nearly every woman has a brown baby slung upon the hip and others dragging on her sarong, or seeking to efface themselves behind her none too ample form. At intervals, old women or young children keep shop, either in nipa huts or on mats under the shade of a kanari-tree. In the kampongs or collections of neat little huts which punctuate the way, a pasar (market) is being held, haberdashers with cheap glass and fancy wares being in juxtaposition with dealers in sarongs and the sellers of fruits and vegetables. On the stoeps of some of the houses, groups of women spin or weave cloth for the native sarong; some make deft use of the sewing machine of foreign commerce.
The road is fringed by a variety of trees and plants which only a botanist would attempt to describe. Colour is given to this fringe by the magenta bougainvillea, the red hibiscus, the pale blue convolvulus, the variegated crotons, and the orange and red of the lantana, and at places the poinsettia provides a predominating red head to the hedge-like greenery. Palms and tree ferns and feathery clumps of young bamboo are called to aid by Nature's landscape gardener; but they do not shut out the verdure-clad ravines that mark a waterway or the terraced rice-fields which climb almost to the top of the highest summits.
We thought we had seen the acme of perfection in rice cultivation and irrigation in China and Japan. But here in Java, we have seen more to excite the admiration in this respect than in either of these countries. One can only marvel at the completeness of the system of irrigation. Rice is in all stages of cultivation, from the flooded paddy field to the grain in the ear being reaped by the gaily coloured butterflies of women. Water buffaloes drag a primitive plough through the drenched soil, while the bright-faced young ploughboy, by what appears to be a superhuman effort, balances himself precariously on the implement.
On the left, we pass tea gardens, the tufty bushes low to the ground. What strikes us first is the amazing regularity of the rows and the cleanness of the ground. An aroma of tea in the making escapes from the roadside factory and agreeably assails our sense of smell as we jolt past in our kreta.
We reached Kampong Toegoe at nine o'clock, refreshed both men and beasts, and harnessed two more ponies with long rope traces to help us to the summit of the Pass, which was reached at eleven o'clock. Here we made a deviation on foot to the Telega Warna (Colour-changing Lake) while the ponies rested for the downward journey. The path is a difficult one, and the lake itself is less interesting than the lovely vegetation by which it is surrounded. Ferns and bracken cover the hillside, pollipods predominating, orchids cling to tree stems, and higher up, the curious nest-fern and various forms of plant life attract attention. Tree is woven to tree by a network of mighty lianas.
The lake itself lies in what must have been the crater in the prehistoric period of activity of Megamendoeng. It is 100 metres in width, circular in shape, and about 100 fathoms deep. Fish are found in the lake, and they are regarded with veneration by the natives.
The steepness of the heavily wooded wall that rises hundreds of feet sheer round three sides reminds one of the geyser-studded old crater of Unzen, in the island of Kyushiu in Japan, "Its gleaming mirror," the guide book says, "exhibits a wonderful luxury of tints and colours, shifting and changing whenever the gentle mountain breeze ruffles the smooth surface." We did not stay a sufficiently long time to experience any wonderful changes on the lake itself, but the surroundings are loaded with charm. The visitor to Sindanglaya should certainly not neglect to make the trip to the lake. We would recommend an excursion on foot from the hotel.
Once over the Pass, the view on the other side of the large basin-shaped plateau in which Sindanglaya lies is more attractive than on the Buitenzorg side, and, as we were to find on the following morning, a better idea is obtained of the wonderful industry of the people, and the remarkable extent to which the cultivation of the mountain slopes is carried on by them.
Sindanglaya and Beyond.
We had not gone far on our travels before we realised the presumptuousness of our attempt to "do" Java in a fortnight. It would require weeks to drink in all the subtle beauties and influences of Buitenzorg, to get the atmosphere of the place; and to derive the fullest measure of benefit and enjoyment from the visit to Sindanglaya, one would require at least a fortnight.
It will ever be matter for regret that we were unable to devote more time to the beauty spots of Western Java or to make the various interesting and health-giving excursions from Sindanglaya's comfortable hotel. We have already said that the ride over the Poentjak Pass should be avoided and the train taken from Buitenzorg to Tjiandjoer. The train leaving Batavia (Weltervreden Station) at 7.25 a.m. and Buitenzorg at 8.44 reaches Tjiandjoer at 12.04. Here, if a carriage has been ordered in advance, a representative of the Sindanglaya establishment meets passengers, and the journey to the hotel is negotiated in two hours at a cost of two and a-half guilders. From Buitenzorg to Sindanglaya the hire of a carriage for passenger and baggage is nine guilders; from Sindanglaya to Buitenzorg it costs seven guilders. The train fare from Batavia to Buitenzorg is three guilders for first-class and two guilders for second; from Batavia to Tjiandjoer, it is eight guilders first-class and four guilders and seventy-five cents second.
The hotel, which consists of one main building with a number of small detached pavilions surrounded by roses and other flowers of the temperate zone, is situated on the slopes of the Gedeh, and is 3,300 feet above sea level. At this level one is able to move about long distances during the day without becoming exhausted, and in the evening the air is delightfully cool, falling just below 70 degrees the night we slept there. There is a tennis court, and the manager spoke of laying down another, and with billiards and skittles in the evening and a hot spring swimming bath, near the Governor-General's villa, for healthful recreation in the daytime, one need not feel too much the absence of city life and companionship. The tariff is the moderate one of six guilders a day, but it is reduced to five guilders per day when a stay of a week or more is made.
The Governor-General's summer residence, Tjipanas, is here, a quarter of a mile from the hotel. It is a prettily situated bungalow residence, standing quite close to the main road from Tjiandjoer, and surrounded by a garden which transports one at once to the south of England. Here, as in many other places in Java, the notice appears: "Verbodden Toegang;" but a courteous application to the Steward in charge obtains a hearty welcome to inspect the grounds. These are well stocked with dahlias, roses, hortensias, begonias, cowslips, sweet williams, wall-flower, and other old-fashioned flowers, and the bloom-covered fuschias carried one's thoughts back to pleasant days spent in Devonshire dales. From the lawns sweet-smelling violets perfumed the air. Matchless orchids clung to the trees, and the delicate maiden-hair fern held its own with the hardier varieties. Dusky fir-trees, groups of Australian araucarias, and Japanese oak trees and chestnuts set off the brightness of the flower beds. In the park there is a beautiful pond, from the centre of which a fountain throws a crystal spray to catch the sun's rays and dispense a wealth of glittering diamonds.
Hot water is the literal meaning of Tjipanas, and a hot spring in the vicinity of the villa supplies the bath-rooms, as well as the swimming bath of the Sanatorium.
There is a fine view from the villa, but a better prospect is obtained from Goenoeng Kasoer, some hundreds of feet higher, where a former Governor-General often took his ontbijtberg (or breakfast). It is now known as Breakfast Hill. A silver mine in the neighbourhood was worked for a time by the John Company.
The mountain garden of Tjibodas, mentioned in a previous article, is well worth a visit. A good walker, starting at six o'clock, can go there, breakfast and be back at the hotel by noon. But the excursion to be taken by everyone who stays at Sindanglaya for any length of time is to the falls at Tjibeureum, Kandang Badak and the crater of the Gedeh. Ladies may make the trip in sedan chairs; gentlemen on foot or on horseback. The falls of Tjibeureum consist of three cataracts, falling 400 feet down a perpendicular crag, and the winding road passes through some interesting jungle scenery.
From Tjibeureum, the path winds up a steep ascent, and through a narrow cleft in the rocks, a natural gateway to which the natives have attached some wonderful legends. Hot springs break through the mountain crust and run side by side with crystal-pure cold brooks, as is often the case on the mountains in Japan.
After a two and a half hours' climb from Tjibeureum, Kadang Badak (or Rhinoceros Kraal) is reached. It lies almost half way up the saddle which connects the Gedeh with the Pangerango, and although there are now no traces of pachyderms, it is stated that both this place and the Telega Warna were favourite haunts of the rhinoceros not so very many years ago. It is recommended that the climbers should spend the night in the hut here, and ascend the Pangerango (9,500 ft.) at 4 a.m. to see the sun rise. From the top the view is magnificent.
Along a steep and difficult mountain path, the crater of the Gedeh may be reached in an hour and a half, and the sight of the gigantic crater of this majestic volcano is said to be overwhelming and ample compensation for the toilsome ascent. It is about two miles distant from the Pangerango, and forms the still active part of the twin volcano. Between 1761 and 1832 no eruptions occurred, but seven took place in the twenty years following, the most terrible and severe being the eruption of 1840. There were again terrible eruptions in 1886 and 1899, when the volcano covered the hillsides with huge stones, one over 150 kilogrammes in weight landing three-quarters of a mile away.
There are several places in the Preanger Region where the visitor may elect to stay instead of Sindanglaya, such as Soekaboemi (2,100 ft.) which has the advantage of being on the railway, Bandoeng and Garoet. All have their own attractions for invalids, and the hotel accommodation is spoken of in terms of the highest praise by all who have been there.
When we drove away from Sindanglaya at seven o'clock on the following morning, the white crater wall of the Gedeh stood out like a huge lump of marble in the morning sun.
Our route lay through tea, coffee and cocoa plantations, and richly cultivated country to Tjiandjoer—a thriving little mountain town, with an air of prosperity and progress,—where we joined the train at 9.30 a.m. for Padalarang. Here, at 11.10 a.m., a change was made to the express from Batavia, and Maos was reached at 5.46 p.m. It had been our intention to stay overnight at Bandoeng, strongly recommended by Mr. Gantvoort, the courteous manager of the Hotel des Indes in Batavia, but we pressed on with the intention of devoting more time to the eastern end of the island. It was well we did so, for, shortly after leaving Padalarang, rain began to fall in torrents, and the afternoon and night were passed in a severe thunderstorm which was to cause us delay. Part of the line was washed away near Moentilan, and our train was over three hours late in reaching Djocjakarta on the following day.
At Maos, there is a commodious, well-built, comfortable passagrahan or government rest-house, where four of us ate our meal in solemn silence, until a query by ourselves when the coffee arrived broke the icy reserve of the quartette, and opened the way for an interesting conversation.
It is customary to make fun of English reserve, but our observation convinced us that the Dutch are no whit behind us in that respect where fellow-Dutch are concerned. On the other hand, nothing could have exceeded the kindness and courtesy with which we were treated from one end of Java to the other. Speaking no Dutch, we had looked forward to many tedious days, but our fears were needless, for, wherever we went, we met pleasant English-speaking Dutchmen, who proved the most entertaining of companions, and we take this opportunity of acknowledging the courteous assistance we received from time to time. On the score of not speaking Dutch or Malay, no English man or woman need be deterred from visiting Java. English is spoken at all the hotels, and though all the train conductors and stationmasters may not do so, there is sure to be an educated Dutchman or lady in the car to whom one may turn for help, which is always readily given.
On one occasion, we had an interesting conversation with two native officials attached to the staff of the Sultan at Djocjakarta. These men had never left the island of Java, yet one of them read and spoke English with ready fluency and perfect accent.
Next day, in spite of the delay caused by the wash-out on the line, we were able to reach Djocjakarta by tiffin time, and devoted the afternoon to the Hindu ruins at Parambanan.
Hindu Ruins in Central Java.
A visit to Java would be incomplete did it not include a pilgrimage to the marvellous products of religious fervour which Buddhism reared in the plains around Djocjakarta before it went down before the all-conquering onslaught of Moslemism. These ruins testify to an ancient art and civilisation and culture and an instinct of creation few are aware of to-day, and it is hard to resist the temptation to indulge in extravagant language when attempting to describe them as they now stand, partially restored by the Dutch authorities.
Miss Scidmore has lavished the wealth of her luxuriant vocabulary upon them, but neither she, nor any of her predecessors in the work of praise, saw them as they stand to-day—a wonder alike to archaeologist, architect, artist and student of comparative religions. Here in the centre of fertile plains we have the real Java of ancient times.
The Dutch had been in possession of the island for two hundred years without discovering the rich deposits hidden beneath the accumulated mounds of centuries and buried under a mass of tropical vegetation. To the active mind of Sir Stamford Raffles the discovery was due. He went to Java as Lieutenant-Governor in 1811, and during the period it was under his control, he had the mounds explored, the ruined temples un-earthed and their historic import co-related with the romantic legends and poetic records rescued from the archives of the native princes. It was due to the investigations of this great Englishman that the date of the construction of the temples was fixed at the beginning of the seventh century of the Christian era, and subsequent investigators (prominent amongst whom must be placed Dr. I. Groneman, now and for many years resident of Djocjakarta and Honorary President of its Archaeological Society) agree in accepting this period as authentically proved from the ruins themselves.
Sir Stamford was of opinion that the temples, as works of labour and art, dwarf to nothing all wonder and admiration at the great pyramids of Egypt; but since his time, it must not be forgotten, much richer discoveries in ancient art and archaeological lore have been made in Egypt and Palestine. Alfred Russell Wallace, Brumund, Fergusson, all join in the chorus of praise, and the latter, in his "History of Indian and Eastern Architecture," expresses the opinion that the Boro Budur is the highest development of Buddhist art, an epitome of all its arts and ritual, and the culmination of the architectural style, which, originating at Barhut a thousand years before—that is more than twenty-one centuries ago—had begun to decay in India at the time the colonists were erecting this masterpiece of the ages in the heart of Java.
To reach the Boro Budur, one takes the steam tram from Djocja to Moentilan. There a dog-cart may be hired for three guilders, and, taking the Temple or Tjandi of Mendoet on the way, the Boro Budur may be reached in an hour and a half from Moentilan. Miss Scidmore was able to write with her customary enthusiasm about this road; but, truth to tell, we found the drive far from pleasant. Until one gets within a quarter of a mile of the ruins, the surface is bad and some of the small bridges so dangerous that we dismounted at the driver's request. The dog-cart, also, is far from an agreeable vehicle in which to travel, and if a better carriage could be found we would advise its being hired. Wherever one goes in Java, the public vehicles are in a state of decay, far more disreputable than the gharry of Singapore, and a large number of the ponies are decrepit and suffering from open sores. If Java is to become a tourist country the vehicles should be better supervised.
Before setting out from Djocjakarta, the visitor should get the hotel proprietor to communicate with the stationmaster at Moentilan, with the object of having a more comfortable carriage than fell to our unhappy lot through leaving the matter to haphazard.
Strictly speaking, the Boro Budur—which means the collection of Buddas—is not a building in the sense that we speak of St. Paul's or St. Peter's. A small hill has been cut down and the earthwork surrounded by masonry, uncemented, unjointed, layer upon layer, and there is no column, pillar, or true arch. It is supposed that it was built by some of the first Buddhist settlers from India as the resting place (dagaba) of one of the urns containing a portion of the ashes of Buddha.
It is difficult to describe it briefly, but the following extract from Miss Scidmore's book seems to us to convey the best idea of the structure in general terms:—
"The temple stands on a broad platform, and rises first in five square terraces, inclosing galleries or processional paths between their walls, which are covered on each side with bas-relief sculptures. If placed in single line, these bas-reliefs would extend for three miles. The terrace walls hold four hundred and thirty-six niches or alcove chapels, where life-size Buddhas sit serene upon lotus cushions. Staircases ascend in straight lines from each of the four sides, passing under stepped or pointed arches, the keystones of which are elaborately carved masks, and rows of sockets in the jambs show where wood or metal doors once swung. Above the square terraces are three circular terraces, where seventy-two latticed dagabas (reliquaries in the shape of the calyx or bud of the lotus) inclose each a seated image, seventy-two more Buddhas sitting in those inner, upper circles, of Nirvana, facing a great dagaba, or final cupola, the exact function or purpose of which as key to the whole structure is still the puzzle of archaeologists. This final shrine is fifty feet in diameter, and either covered a relic of Buddha, or a central well where the ashes of priests and princes were deposited, or is a form surviving from the tree-temples of the earliest primitive East when nature-worship prevailed. The English engineers made an opening in the solid exterior, and found an unfinished statue of Buddha on a platform over a deep well-hole."
We read this description among others before we visited the Boro Budur, and must confess that from none of them did we get a correct idea of what we were to see. It must be seen to be realised. Not even photographs give a true conception of the ornate character of the decorative stonework—the hard but freely-worked lava stone having lent itself easily to the chisel. Like Cologne or Milan Cathedrals, it must be examined minutely to grasp the elaborateness of the sculptured work, but, unlike either of these, it does not produce an immediate impression of grandeur and religious elevation. It is unlike any of the temples in Japan, or, indeed, anywhere, though Ceylon and India may suggest comparisons.
What will strike the visitor as he perambulates these miles of sculptured terraces is the complete absence of any offensive or indecent figure. Mere nudity is not, of course, an outrage to the artistic soul; but here there is not even a nude or grotesque figure. Each is draped in the fine flowing robes of the East, not in monotonous regularity but suggestive of prince and peasant, princess and maids, down even to the jewels they wear. Strangely enough, no particularly Javanese type of face or figure is represented—all are Hindu, Hindu-Caucasian and pure Greek.
It is not our purpose to give elaborate details of this work of religious art. The visitor may obtain at Djocjakarta a copy of Dr. Groneman's learned treatise on the subject, a treatise which will teach him something about Buddhism as well as the Boro Budur, of which Dr. Groneman has made an exhaustive study. With his guide, the sculptures become an open book to the visitor.
It is more archaeological than descriptive, however, and we must acknowledge our indebtedness again to Miss Scidmore for the following passage to show the scope of the sculptures:—
"The everyday life of the seventh and eighth century is pictured—temples, palaces, thrones and tombs, ship and houses, all of man's constructions are portrayed. The life in courts and palaces, in fields and villages, is all seen there. Royal folk in wonderful jewels sit enthroned, with minions offering gifts and burning incense before them warriors kneeling and maidens dancing. The peasant ploughs the rice-fields with the same wooden stick and ungainly buffalo, and carries the rice-sheaves from the harvest field with the same shoulder poles, used in all the farther East to-day. Women fill their water-vessels at the tanks and bear them away on their heads as in India now, and scores of bas-reliefs show the unchanging costumes of the East that offer sculptors the same models in this century. Half the wonders of that great three-mile-long gallery of sculptures cannot be recalled. Each round disclosed some more wonderful picture, some more eloquent story. Even the humorous fancies of the sculptors are expressed in stone. In one relievo a splendidly caparisoned state elephant flings its feet in imitation of the dancing girl near by. Other sportive elephants carry fans and state umbrellas in their trunks; and the marine monsters swimming about the ship that bears the Buddhist missionaries to the isles have such expression and human resemblance as to make one wonder if those pillory an enemy with their chisels, too. In the last gallery, where, in the progress of the religion, it took on many features of Jainism, or advancing Brahmanism, Buddha is several times represented as the ninth avatar, or incarnation, of Vishnu, still seated on the lotus cushion and holding a lotus with one of his four hands."
In all probability, the masonry was shaken down by an earthquake, the Boro Budur being near three volcanoes. Restorative and preservative work is now being carried on by the Government, and some of the smaller temples in the Djocja district are restored in the original design.
There is a small hotel at the Boro Budur where one is recommended to stay when studying details, and we can well believe that sunrise as seen from the summit is a sight one should never forget. We saw it in the early afternoon when the heat vapours from the noontide sun partially obliterated the landscape, but even so it was impressive. Except on the right, where the mountains close in the horizon, the eye has a range of many miles over fertile alluvial plains, studded with coco and banana and palm trees, and every other patch of ground cultivated "like a tulip bed." Miss Marianne North, whose collection of paintings in Kew Gardens may be familiar to some of our readers, wrote of this view: "The very finest view we ever saw."
The Temples of Parambanan.
There are other Buddhist ruins in the neighbourhood of the Boro Budur; but the other more important collection is scattered over the region between Djocjakarta and Soerakarta. One small temple, the Tjandi Kali Bening, is reputed to be the gem of Hindu art in Java. This we did not see; but, on another day, in a victoria drawn by four small ponies, kept going by the wild gr-r-r-ee gr-r-r-eeing of our native running footman, we drove to the scattered temples on the Plain of Parambanan, where, with the help of another archaeological guide by Dr. I. Groneman, we were able to appreciate the beauties of these 1100-year-old centres of ancient religious devotees. These temples are the most interesting in the country, though lacking the extent and grandeur of the Boro Budur. Though they do not contain a single genuine Buddha figure, but many images of Brahmanic gods, Dr. Groneman says there are many reasons to justify the opinion that they were built by Buddhists, probably over the ashes of princes and grandees of a Buddhistic empire.
In his report to Sir Stamford Raffles on these Parambanan ruins, Captain George Baker, of the Bengal establishment wrote:—"In the whole course of my life, I have never met with such stupendous and finished specimens of human labour and of the science and taste of ages long since forgot, crowded together in so small a compass, as in this little spot, which, to use a military phrase, I deem to have been the headquarters of Hinduism in Java."
In Volume XIII of the "Asiatick Researches or Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal for inquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences and Literature of Asia" (Calcutta, 1820), Mr. John Crawfurd, who, apparently, visited Java in 1816, gives a long and interesting description of the ruins on the Plain of Parambanan. He describes the locale as ten miles from Djocjakarta, a valley lying between Rababu and Marapi to the north and a smaller southern range of high land.
A few of the ruins consist of single isolated temples, but the greater number are in groups, rows of small temples surrounding larger temples.
The shape of the smaller temples is worthy of observation. From the foundation to the lintels of the doors, they are of a square form. They then assume a pyramidal but round shape, and are decorated around by small figures resembling Lingas, while a larger Linga surmounts the whole building, forming the apex of the temple.
Invariably, the sites of the temples are adjacent to abundant supplies of clear water so much desired by the Hindus and so necessary to the performance of the ritual. Beside two rivers of the purest water, there is between the villages of Parambanan and Plaosan a small tank, evidently an appendage to the temples. This little piece of water is a square of about 200 feet to the side. The ground around it is elevated, and there is every appearance of its being an artificial excavation. The whole tank, when visited by Mr. Crawfurd, was covered with blue lotus, the flower of which is so conspicuous an ornament of the sculptures of the temple.
Then, as now, there was no evidence of Hindu descendants of the builders of these religious houses and places of worship, but the Javanese are as tolerant of various religious cults as the Chinese or the Japanese, and the visitor need not be surprised to find native visitors making what appears to be a pilgrimage to some particular shrine.
Mr. Crawfurd found barren women, men unfortunate in trade or at play, persons in debt and sick persons propitiating the Goddess Durga, "smeared with perfumed unguents or decked with flowers." This worship, too, was not confined to the lower orders. His Highness the Susuhunan when meditating an unusually ambitious or hazardous scheme made offerings to the image.
These temples are built of a hard dark and heavy species of basalt, the chief component of the mountains of Java. The stone is usually hewn in square blocks of various sizes, as is the case with the Boro Budur. The respective surfaces of the stones which lie on each other in the building have grooves and projections which key into each other as in the best masonry work to-day. They are regularly arranged in the walls in such a manner as to give the greatest degree of strength and solidity to the structure, and nowhere is cement or mortar utilised. There are no huge pillars or single blocks such as may be seen in other prehistoric edifices, and neither in boldness of design nor imposing grandeur have the temples presented any difficulties to the builders. There is nothing upon a great scale, nothing attempted outside the reach of the most obvious mechanical contrivance or the most ordinary methods of common ingenuity. The chief characteristic is the minute laboriousness of the execution. Nevertheless, the temples excite the imagination, and send the thoughts back to those primeval days when men sought to express their religious feeling through these elaborate monuments of hewn stone.
The Tjandi Kalasan, one of the most beautiful of the temples, is the only ruin in Central Java of which the exact date of construction has been learned with any degree of accuracy. This was ascertained from a stone found in the neighbourhood, inscribed in nagari characters. Two versions of the inscription were made—one by the Dutch scholar, Dr. J. Brandes, and the other by the Indian, Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar.
Dr. I. Groneman makes use of both versions to compile the following:—
"Homage to the blessed (or, reverend) and noble Tara.
"May she,—the only deliverer of the world, who, seeing how men perish in the sea of life, which is full of incalculable misery, is sure to save them by the three means—grant you the wished for essence, the salvation of the world by the Lord of gods and men.
"The guru (i.e. teacher) of the Sailendra prince erected a magnificent Tara temple. At the command (or, the instance) of the guru, the grateful ——(?) made an image of the goddess and built the temple, together with a dwelling (vihara, monastery) for the monks (bhikshus) who know the great vehicle of discipline (Mahayana).
"By authorisation of the king, the Tara temple and the monastery for the reverend monks have been built by his counsellors, the pangkur, the tavan, and the tirip (old Javanese civil officers, perhaps soothsayers or astrologers).
"The deserving guru of the Sailendra king built the temple in the prosperous reign of the king, the son of the Sailendra dynasty.
"The great king built the Tara temple in honour of the guru (to do homage to the guru) when 700 years of the Saka era were past.
"The territory of the village of Kalasa was bestowed on the congregation of priests (monks) in the presence of the pangkur, the tavan and the tirip, and the village chiefs (as witnesses).
"This great (incomparable) endowment was made by the king for the monks. It is to be perpetuated by the (later) kings of the Sailendra dynasty, for the benefit of the successive reverend congregations of monks, and be respected (maintained) by the wise pangkur, the good tivan, the wise tirip and others, and by their virtuous wives (according to Dr. Brandes, but "their virtuous foot-soldiers" according to Dr. Bhandarkar).
"The king also begs of all following kings that this bridge (or, dam) of charity, which is (a benefit) for all nations, may be perpetuated for all time.
"May all who adhere to the doctrine of the Jinas, through the blessings of this monastery, obtain knowledge of the nature of things, constituted by the concatenation of causes (and effects), and may they thrive.
"The —— prince once more requests of (all) future kings that they may protect the monastery righteously."
This inscription, showing clearly that the temple was consecrated to Tara, the sakti of the deliverer of the world, the fourth Dhyani Buddha, Amitabha, the Tara of the Buddhists of the Northern Church (Mahayana, or the "Great Vehicle"), leads Dr. Groneman to the opinion that this particular temple was completed in the year 701 of the Saka era, or 779 of the Christian era. No trace of the Tara image was found; but this is not to be wondered at when we note the presence of other images in the gardens of private residences in Djocjakarta, and even farther afield, and remember the destruction wrought by foreign soldiers and foreign and native vandals.
People and Industries of Central Java.
In the plains going eastward through Central Java from the Preanger Regencies to the mountains of the Teng'ger Region, one cannot fail to be struck by the remarkable change in the appearance of the natives. The Soendanese of the West may not have the resource and thoughtfulness of the people of the plains, the Javanese, but they have brightness and vivacity which make them more attractive. Their bent of mind is reflected in the bright colours of their dress. In this and other respects, they resemble the Japanese women. In the plains, sombreness of dress is a characteristic—the browns of Mid-Java changing to an almost universal dark blue in the west, reminding the traveller of the Chinese and the inhabitants of the southern Japanese islands.
Everywhere, the male Javanese carry the kris or native knife in the girdle. There is much variety in the blades, handles and sheaths of those weapons, real native damascene blades costing considerable sums. One taking a superficial trip through the island is at a loss to understand why the natives should be armed. According to all accounts, they are a peaceably inclined people, and give their Dutch rulers very little trouble; and if they were at all quarrelsome amongst themselves, the handy weapon would be a source of grave danger. In course of time, perhaps, the knife will disappear as did the sword of civilised Europe a century or more ago. A traffic in Birmingham manufactured krises and knives is done at Djocjakarta and Soerakarta, as well as at Samarang, Sourabaya and Batavia, and anyone who wishes to make a collection of native weapons should be careful to have the assistance of an expert to detect the sham from the real.
The same remark applies to the purchase of sarongs. The ordinary sarong of commerce is manufactured in Lancashire, whence an excellent imitation of the native manufacture is exported. Tourists are also catered for in a native block-stamped variety, which is at least a colourable imitation of the real article. Wherever we went, however, we could see that the native art had not been lost entirely. Women sit outside their little huts by the roadside tracing the most elaborate designs in brown and blue dye upon the cloth with tiny funnel-shaped implements.
This cloth is styled batik. According to the ground of white, black or red, it is known as batik latur puti, batik latur irang, or batuk latur bang. To prepare it to receive the design, the cloth is steeped in rice water, dried and calendered. The process of the batik is performed with hot wax in a liquid state applied by means of the chanting. The chanting is usually made of silver or copper, and holds about an ounce of the liquid. The tube is held in the hand at the end of a small stick, and the pattern is traced on both sides of the tightly drawn suspended cloth. When the outline is finished, such portions of the cloth as are intended to be preserved white, or to receive any other colour than the general field or ground, are carefully covered in like manner with the liquid wax, and then the piece is immersed in whatever coloured dye may be intended for the ground of the pattern. The parts covered with wax resist the operation of the dye, and when the wax is removed, by being steeped in hot water till it melts, are found to remain in their original condition. If other colours are to be applied, the process is gone over again. It will thus be seen that a considerable amount of skill is required. In the ordinary course, the process of the batik occupies about ten days for common patterns, and from fifteen to seventeen days for the finer and more variegated.
Some of the sarongs worn by the native aristocracy and the European ladies are not only beautiful in pattern and working but most expensive in price.
In our excursions in the neighbourhood of Djocjakarta, we had ample opportunity of seeing the industry of the Javanese. Wherever one went, there were long processions of stunted women bravely carrying enormous burdens on their backs, often with a baby slung in the slandang astride the hip. The cheery, coquettish look of the Soendanese was absent here. All seemed to be borne down by the seriousness of a strenuous physical life. No songs arose from the fields; scarcely a head was raised from the laborious planting of tufts of paddy roots as our kreta rattled past. While mothers toiled in the fields, children played near the roadways, or now and then assisted their parents.
We were surprised to see in these fertile plains how prevalent goitre is amongst the women. In the drive from Moentilan to the Boro Budur, at least one in twenty were so afflicted. We commented on this fact to a native official while waiting for our tram at Moentilan, and he assured us that it is remarkably prevalent amongst the common people, but that the men do not suffer in the same proportion as the women. The disease is named "kondo" by the Javanese. We do not know whether any scientific investigations into the disease have been carried out by the Dutch officials; but it would be interesting to know why it should be so prevalent in this area. Goitre is usually associated with people living in mountainous regions, yet we never noticed it in the Preanger and scarcely at all on the mountains of East Java.
Since the above was written, we have had an opportunity of consulting Sir Stamford Raffles' History of Java. He found goitre prevalent in both Java and Sumatra, but is careful to explain that it was observed in certain mountainous districts. The natives ascribed it to the quality of the water, but, says Sir Stamford, "there seems good ground for concluding that it is rather to be traced to the atmosphere. In proof of this, it may be mentioned that there is a village near the foot of the Teng'ger mountains, in the eastern part of the island, where every family is afflicted by this malady, while in another village, situated at a greater elevation, and through which the stream descends which serves for the use of both, there exists no such deformity. These wens are considered hereditary in some families, and seem thus independent of situation. A branch of the family of the present Adipati of Bandung (1811-15) is subject to them, and it is remarkable that they prevail chiefly among the women of the family. They never produce positive suffering nor occasion early death, and may be considered rather as deformities than diseases. It is never attempted to remove them."
We reached Djocjakarta in the ordinary way through Maos. It may be that circumstances may take the traveller off the beaten track, and we are indebted to a friend for the following brief description of the trip from Samarang to Djocja over the mountains:—
"The usual journey from Samarang to Djocjakarta is made by way of Solo (Soerakarta), but the route is devoid of interest, the railway running through low country under rice cultivation. I would suggest the far more interesting route via Willem I. Starting at 5.57 a.m. or 8.17 a.m., Djocja is reached at 2.16 p.m. or 5.10 p.m. The 10.50 a.m. train, I found, went only as far as Magelang, so I started at 2.9 p.m., and, after a delightful run, reached Kedoeng Djattie, a fine junction station, where we changed cars. The next two hours' run is through foot hills, strips of forest and lovely vegetation, glimpses being obtained every little while of pleasant valleys, rice fields and distant hills as the train climbed up to Willem I. This point we reached about 5 p.m., in time to enjoy the refreshing cool breezes and to admire the beautiful view and sunset on a small mountain opposite the hotel.
"Next morning, I caught the train (8.54 a.m.,) which leaves Samarang at 5.57, and after a short run reached a station where our engine was changed for one working on the cog-wheel system, the grade being too heavy for the ordinary locomotive. The train winds and circles round hills cultivated, for the most part, to their summits. Upwards we climbed till we were in the clouds and the air became quite bracing and invigorating. Tiffin should be ordered through the guard before starting from Willem I., and it will be handed into the train.
"It was about one o'clock when we reverted to the ordinary locomotive, and began the descent to Djocja, through Magelang. To anyone who has to visit Samarang, I would recommend this trip."
The principal sight of Djocja itself is the Water Castle. This trip need not occupy more than a couple of hours, and its appreciation depends upon the taste of the visitor. Earthquakes have played havoc with the buildings, but sufficient is left in the way of tunnels, grottoes, bathing ponds and dungeon-like rooms. Everywhere are signs of decay and desolation; nevertheless, it is possible, with a little knowledge of comparatively recent Javan history, to reconstruct the scenes enacted here in the days when the native sultans were more powerful in the land than they are to-day. For a small fee, a native pilots one through the carved archways, underground halls and subways and cells. As one stands in the large banqueting hall, it is possible to conjure up the ceremonials of a past age, and, in the mind's eye, to group retainers round the Sultan and the members of his harem, while gaudily dressed courtesans sang and danced for the entertainment of "the quality."