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Monday, February 23, 2009

architecture of indonesia

The early classical(600-900 AD)
This is the way Chau Ju Kua describes the position of the ruler in Sriwijaya, the most important ancient kingdom in Sumatra, of which the capital was probably located near present-day Palembang, although Jambi also might have been capital of this kingdom for a period. In a mixture of fantasy and fact he gives more details about the power which Sriwijaya exercised over foreign shipping.he capital of Sriwijaya was not just a capital and commercial city, it also functioned as a cultural centre. In AD 671 there were already more than a thousand Buddhist monks there.Unfortunately very little is known about the morphological structure of Sriwijaya. The reason for this is that most of the buildings were made of perishable materials, little of which has survived. The city, most probably the palace area, was surrounded by a brick wall.

The ordinary population lived either outside the confines of the wall, or on rafts moored to the banks of the river. The hinterland of the city was sparsely populated and was scarcely cultivated.

Sriwijaya probably evolved in the seventh century. At the end of the thirteenth century war broke out with Majapahit in East Java and Sriwijaya was forced to surrender some of its power. In the fourteenth century it even became a Javanese vassal. In the wake of an insurrection, it was punished by a Javanese fleet but, for the most part, the Javanese left the kingdom to its fate. Burger thinks that the Chinese then assumed power. A Chinese leader, who had roamed the seas for years, seized power and around 1400 the petty state was little more than a pirates' lair, with a capital called Kien-Kiang.

The decline of Sriwijaya can be largely attributed to its pursuance of exclusive trade policy. This engendered rivalry and conflict. The advent of Islam caused the final eclipse of this Hindu kingdom. Many left the capital and very few traders still came there.

After this, Palembang fell under the sphere of influence of Banten and for a very long while little is known about it.

The city was not planned, for town planning was only introduced by foreigners later. The city was not built arbitrary, however. Its morphological structure was mainly determined by the cosmic and dualistic tradition, stressing the directions of the compass, the contradistinction between the western royal and eastern princely kraton relating to each other as sun and moon, the contradistinction between religious and profane authority and so on. The social structure and religious ideas became clear within the lay-out of the city.

Majapahit was located at some distance from the river Brantas. Its port on this river was called Bubat, which was inhabited by foreign traders from e.g. India and China, probably living in separate wards. Other ports which were part of the state were Surabaya, Gresik and Tuban. Smaller settlements were Singasari, Bayalanges, Patukangan, Sadeng, Keta, Pajarakan and Gending. The state territory of Majapahit was divided into two parts, Janggala downstream and Kadiri upstream. These parts were associated respectively with rural communities and aristocratic domains.

Transport in Majapahit was mainly carried out by water: sea and river. The river Brantas which was particularly important for the transportation of goods to Bubat from the sea, must have been much larger in those days than it is now. Because of deforestation the flow of water has certainly decreased. Transport over land mostly took place by ox-cart, which covered long distances in numerous caravans. Persons and goods were transported, as well as rice, spices, meat, fish and valuables. Toll-money was levied on roads and waterways.

According to Burger, Majapahit has to be considered both a land and a maritime power. Its influence covered almost the total area of Indonesia to-day with in addition parts of the Malay Peninsula with the exception of West Java, the southern part of Central Java and North Sulawesi. Subordination meant that a tribute had to be paid, but the areas located at a great distance were merely spheres of influence. Majapahit had a strong fleet to conquer other territories and send out punitive expeditions. It was a mercantile imperium incorporating coastal cities with a transit function. This went together with a strong agrarian basis of sawah and ladang cultivation. So Legge states that Majapahit combined in its political aspect the characteristics of a mercantile empire and an agrarian state. However, the aristocrats of Majapahit were not traders. Royalty and trade were considered incompatible. Primarily they relied on agriculture.

Pigeaud discusses four ranks, namely the aristocracy, clergy, peasants and bond-slaves. Foreigners and outcasts were not included in these categories, while craftsmen and artists were not considered a separate group. The social structure in the country was more diverse than is generally assumed. Isolated tribes existed, beside communities of craftsmen and traders, and industrial (salt, sugar) and agrarian villages. Moreover, the royal domains and the estates of the aristocracy and clergy have to be taken into account.

The political organisation was quite centralized. All the members of the royal family, as well as the most important functionaries, the vizir and the higher clergy lived in the capital. The state was divided into provinces, the most important being Janggala and Kadiri. Outside the capital authority was vested in the hands of local governors and vizirs for worldly matters, and judges and their assistants for spiritual-legal matters, who in their turn most probably had their own clerks. At the court spiritual and worldly matters were clearly separated and moreover were graded.

The expenditure of the court with its luxurious feasts and abundance of functionaries, soldiers and servants might have been a heavy burden for the peasants who had to produce the surplus. However, the royal and princely activities benefited the countryside also because of the protection given and the incentive for economic development they supplied. In principle the royal family was a unity with at its head the king. Internal disputes formed a threat to this unity and to the survival of Majapahit. After the death of King Hayam Wuruk the factions tried to gain advantage for themselves at the cost of the others and the prosperity of this state and its capital came to an end.

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