Yogyakarta, the city where I currently live, is a special kingdom within Java and continues to be governed by a royal sultanate. It is on the island of Java. I have recently had a chance to experience some Javanese cultural events.
The first was truly a special opportunity. The owner of the boarding house where a friend lives invited us to a Javanese traditional ceremony. The gist of the event is that a 7 month old baby is brought into a chicken cage where s/he gets to choose from indicators of potential futures that have been placed in there as well. For example, there might be money, books, a stethoscope or other toys that indicate desirable profession. When describing the ceremony, Javanese are quick to point out that the cage is new and that the baby is only in it for a little while.
|Baby and his mom in a chicken cage
This festival was huge. They took up the entire street in front of the house and also had seating areas in several other places where people could enjoy a simulcast of the main events as an MC gave a running narrative. We were also entertained by live gamelan orchestra playing traditional Javanese music. And the food... 2 full buffets and individual stations of traditional Javanese foods. It was a thing to behold.
|Gamelan players and singer at the party
|Javanese dancer... LOTS of makeup
The royal residence is not ostentatious, but it is spacious and displays a lot of history, particularly of the previous sultan. And they show many of the items used in royal ceremonies, such as carriages, instruments, and yes, the royal chicken cage.
|Approaching one of the pools at Taman Sari
|Example of the reliefs at Taman Sari
|Passageway in the underground complex.
|Escher-like stairs at the center of the bulding
|Passage in the round building. The second story protrudes
|Wall in Kampoeng Cyber painted with motifs drawn from traditional Javanese
|Orchids in a yard in Kampoeng Cyber
While at first Kampoeng Cyber appears to be a strong contrast to the historic and ceremonial surroundings of the Kraton and Taman Sari, I also see it as bringing Javanese culture into the future. Many of the galleries build on traditional art forms by adding modern elements. Javanese culture seems to highly value aesthetics and nature. Both of these are demonstrated in the new, vibrant community built on the foundation of a historic complex.