Yogyakarta, or short Yogya is one of the two still excisting traditional royal cities of Central Jawa; the other is Solo. The city is in the centre of a wide belt of fertile ricefields, which are dominated in the north by the smouldering Gunung Merapi ('Mount Merapi'), and in the south is limited because of the rough Indian Ocean.
The 3,169 sq.km. province of Yogyakarta counts 3,2 milion residents, on average more than one thousand per square kilometre. Yogya is among the most densely populated and most productive traditional agricultural areas in the world. The fact that low housing dominates, and most people still live in relatively small, selfsufficient village communities, this is even more remarkable. In the city itself live less than 500,000 people.
The area around Yogya, earlier known as Mataram, is being inhabited for at least 2000 years. The oldest kingdom is reported on a stone linga dating from the year 732, found near Canggal, north of the current city. On this king Sanjaya is named, probably an honest, friendly royal Siwaitic royal ruler, which descendants rules into the 10th century. At the same time in the area ruled the Sailendra-dynasty ( 'mountain lords' ), which supported the Mahayana-bhuddhism. Both families left important stone monuments, under which the world famous Borobudur and Prambanan.
At the end of the 16th century the empire of Mataram was blown alive politically by the arrival of a mighty Islamic empire. Panembahan Senopati, son of the Majapahit prince from East Jawa founded a simple village near Kota Gede in 1575, which attracted traders and artists and became a centre of trade. Senopati founded the bathing place of Umbul pecetokan near a big source southwest of the village of Beringan, the place we now know as Yogyakarta.
In 1614 Senopati's grandson - sultan Agung - replaced the capital to Kerta in the south. Sultan Agung became Matarams most important leader. During his long reign ( appr. 1613 until 1646 ) he added big parts of Eastern-, and Central Jawa to his kingdom. After his death, the capital was placed to the east several times, first to Plered and next to Kartasura.
The grandson of sultan Agung, Amangkurat II, started the construction of a fortification near Beringan, but died during construction. His brother, the later Paku Buwono I, completed the structure and named it Ngayogya, a 'Jawanisation' of Ayodya, the idylic kingdom of Prince Rama from Ramayana. The current name Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat connects this Indian poem of heroes with the wanted peace ( yogya ) and prosperity ( karta ).
A long, unrecognisable number of revolts and wars after eachother lead to a truce - forced by the Dutch - between Paku Buwono III and his uncle Mangkubumi in the mid 18th century. The nine-year-long conflict got an totally unexpected end. The kingdom was devided into two seperate royal houses. Mangkubumi got half and seated as sultan Hamengku Buwono I in the new capital of Yogyakarta.
A new city
Hamengku Buwono I was a dynamic and creative rules. With care he choose the location for his new palace: at the southern side of the Merapi, close to the monuments of the old Mataram and the former places of Senopato and sultan Agung. The klaton which he built in Yogya, became the symbol of his new empire.
Along the southen entrance fruit trees were planted as a feature of the growth of the humen embryo from the fertilisation until birth. The road of procession, which lead to the north from the kraton ( the current Jalan A. yani - Malioboro - Mangkubumi ), was compared to a ritual path, which every person had to walk in it's mind to clear the thoughts. Only after that you could unite with the creator, symbolised by a stone needle or Tugu, at the northern end of the road.
Hemengku Buwono I was not only a successfull constructor, he also was an successfull military leader and a professional ruler. After his death in 1792 a restless time dawned. Conflicts between his sons and grandsons became arguments in which the Dutch and English colonial powers also got strangled. In an effort to stabilise the region, the English gave prince Notokusomo, a half-brother of Hamengku Buwono I, an independend principality and the title Sri Paduka Paku Alam I in 1813.
Intrigues and revolt followed eachother in fast pace. Arguments about rights on land became more fierce and reached their highs in the dramatic Jawa War ( 1825-1830 ). The religious accented on economy based revold spread all over central Jawa under command of the charismatic Yogyan prince Diponegoro. Besides the approximately 15,000 deaths, famine and epidemics also caused 200,000 deaths, about 10 per cent of the total population of the island at that time.
In 1830 Diponegoro was trapped, enprisoned and banned from the island. After that the royal family lead an quiet existance. People worked on arts and ritual appearance of status, and helped the Dutch sugar companies. The rural population multipied by eight, causing the living conditions to change dramatically.
In the beginning of the 20th century a few important social movements were formed in Yogya. In 1908 a group of young idealists with Dutch education founded the Boedi Oetomo , followed up four years later by the Muhammadiyah-movement of K.H.A. Dahlan. This movement propagated modern islamic education and healthcare. In 1922 Ki Hadjar Dewantoro founded the Taman Siswa schools in Yogya, and in 1928 the first Indonesian congress for women was held, in which representatives of 30 departments participated.
In 1940 the 27-year-old prince became sultan Hamengku Buwono IX. This happening would have big influences all over Indonesia. The young sultan studied at the Univesity in Leiden, and had an western education, but he was also aware about his Jawanese roots. He developed himself into a reformed, which gave real support to the independence movement in the dark days of the revolution.
Directly after the declaration of independence at 17 August 1945 sultan Hameng Buwono IX as well as Paku Alam VIII decided to support the newly formed Indonesian republic. Early 1946m, the capital was quietly replaced to Yogyakarta, in that time the sultan gave the new government some funds.
The Dutch didn't dare to overthrow the sultan. During the six month long occupation in 1949 they tried, with no success, to get the leadership of a new pan-Jawanese state. During this entire period the sultan had personal contact with the republican guerrilla troops, which operated from the surrounding villages.
Because he openly supported the revolution, his empire got the status of special province, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, with the sultan as governor and Paku Alam VIII as vice-governor, named for life and directly responsible for the central government, and not to the governor of Central Jawa.
City of education and culture
Yogya is a city with many faces. Proud at it's century-old Jawanese heir it attracts numerous painters, dancers and writers from all over the planet. The city where the Taman Siswa-schools and the Islamic Muhammadiyah-schools were founded, nowadays is a real student city. Besides the Gajad Mada University, which originates from the time of the revolution and is one of the most important Universities of the country, Yogya counts over fourty academies and institutes for higher education.
Besides a traditional Jawanese city, Yogya is also a place of refreshing ideas. On just a few paces from the serene kraton is the market where batik painters show their designs, influenced by foreigners. In the main streets computer stores pop up everywhere while satellite dishes and trendy residencial quarters dominate the city. During a celebration of Independence day, no one look if after a traditional golek-dance a group of trendy pop-dancers appear on the stage. In the tolerant cultural climate in Yogya traditions and modern things go hand in hand.
Location map of Introduction
Last revised on September 02, 2011
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