After having lunch at a roadside, which was quite nearby the National Museum of Indonesia, we then headed to the next destination. This was one of those museums that I was ridiculously eager to visit as what I had browsed on the internet—I mean looking at lovely pictures on some interesting blogs—greatly drove me to go see it by myself. Just like what I have mentioned in the previous post, I was bummed out when I found it closed. Really, though, I had to walk pretty much far to reach it.
Um, actually it felt like a minute since the one I walked with was… Never mind.
“Now we’re getting there. Is your heart beating fast yet?” he said as he got quite ahead of me.
Of course it was beating fast.
And don’t walk too fast, please.
Now can you guys guess where we were?
Drum rolls, please!
Yep, it was Museum Taman Prasasti (Museum of Memorial Stone Park). Located at Jl. Tanah Abang 1, no. 1, it was not difficult to find the gateway since it was right at the roadside. Ah, finally got to visit this old cemetery!
Eh. It was only the two of us and a group of guys visiting the museum at present. I had thought there would be teenagers having a photoshoot for their year book, a couple having their pre-wedding pictures taken, or at least a singer having his/her brand new music video shot. Phew, phew! Oh, another good news; since it was alright and I was allowed to use my camera inside this museum, here within this post I provide you with some pictures. Teehee!
Cemetery? Yes, you heard that right, buddy. This outdoor museum used to be a Christian public cemetery during the Dutch colonial era, and it was formerly called Kebon Jahe Kober Cemetery. It was built in 1795 to replace a cemetery next to Nieuw Hollandsche Kerk Church (now Museum of Wayang) and Sion Church as the result of a prohibition from Herman Willem Daendels (Governor General of the Dutch East Indies) of entombing corpses around churches and private lands.
In 1975, Kebon Jahe Kober was closed due to the lack of remaining space. All of the corpses were then relocated to other cemeteries like Tanah Kusir and Menteng Pulo. There were no longer corpses buried here today. It was only gravestones spared. So, there is no need to feel frightened—if you do, but really?—to visit this museum, okay? Okay.
People who had their final resting place here were Dutch nobles, officials, famous figures, and other residents living in Batavia (Jakarta in the past). So, there should be no surprise when you see epitaphs on the gravestones are mostly written in a language you cannot understand—unless you did learn Dutch, of course. Though it was built by the Dutch government, apparently this cemetery was reserved for non-Dutchmen as well. We could see it from some graves here which looked far different from most others.
The gravestones here were mostly prettified with classical and neogothic style. As generally known, the gravestones were crafted into crosses, statues of male and female angels, and also statues of Jesus. They represented the beautiful art of 18th and 19th century which brought us to think of European old cemeteries. Not only did I like the magnificence of its architecture, I was also interested in reading the epitaphs carved on the gravestones. Very, very fascinating. Although some statues were a bit broken, overall, all of the inscriptions still looked decent, as they were mostly made of quality marbles, bronzes, and natural stones which are weather resistants.
In spite of all the beauty we could find here, it was such an unfortunate that the environment of this museum looked as if it had not been maintained well. Grasses were all dried, barren, and in a mess. Trees were arid and they did not shield the graves from the heat. And even worse, some inscriptions were tragically vandalized by some uneducated, irresponsible people. Sadly, those ignorant vandalists appeared to be the local residents living around the museum who jumped over from the back of the museum, according to one of the security officers. How nasty!
To be honest, I could not stand the ill-favoured view of stuffs that obviously did not belong to the place. I believe anyone would not want to see such an impropriety, too. For example, a glass of already-drunk-coffee which was guiltlessly put on one of the gravestones. Well? There was also a pot, I repeat, a miserable-looking scorched pot, placed in front of a gravestone. Duh! Gutted in so many levels, without a second thought, I got rid of the pot and grumbled.
If only government, caretakers, and visitors are willing to take care of this museum decently, I believe this museum will get much appreciation it certainly deserves from people, either native or foreign. As one of the places where historical relics remain to be kept, it is the responsibility of all to maintain the existence of the museum for it should be here not only now, but also in the future. Surely it is beyond wrong to do any harm to the place, since the museum was opened by the government to help obtaining the regional income. This cannot turn out to be spending costs which are assuredly not a few only to repair the damage.
Museum of Memorial Stone Park is a historical evidence that Batavia was developed entirely by its diversity, that it was not only the earlier local residents who contributed to build the city, but also influences—for that matter, in a good, or even a bad way—brought by foreigners who then happened to occupy the region and then assimilated with them. We may not know who the people buried in the cemetery were. We do not know if there used to be a doctor, a teacher, a merchant, an officer, or anyone, who consciously or unconsciously took their part in the history of Batavia. This museum is to remind us that those people were alive, and once here, just like us now.
P.S. This is the end of this post. I would have said something that sounded like a kind advice, but I thought I could not, for some reason. Also, I don’t want to sound preachy. What I can say to you once again is, Museum of Memorial Stone Park has to be listed as one of your holiday destinations. The ticket price is definitely affordable and the access to the museum is way easy. You will learn a lot here, or at least get a little bit of something new to keep in your mind. I bet you will. Oh, and remember, there is a special place in hell for vandalists. So, turn to God in genuine repentance and faith will be saved!