Therein Last Week Pt. 2: Museum of Memorial Stone Park

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!

Now can you guess where we were?

*drum rolls* Uh oh, the letters could not be seen well from here.

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!

The Museum of Memorial Stone Park gateway. Here we come!

*still drum rolls* The gateway of the cemetery, eh, Museum of Memorial Stone Park.

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.

This one is an American, named Edwin Rich Connell who was born in Brooklyn and died in Batavia. I do like the epitaph, can you read it?

The man resting here was an American, named Edwin Rich Connell, a citizen of New York, who was born in Brooklyn and died in Batavia.

Mary Anne Mackenzie, a British woman who died at sea. Her epitaph... :'(

Mary Anne Mackenzie, a British woman, daughter of Captain G. Murray, who died at sea.

Yep, bet this one was a favourite for all. The grave of Soe Hok Gie, a Chinese-Indonesian student activist. Due to the removal, his family decided to cremate his corpses and spreaded the ashes at Mandalawangi Pangrango, his favourite place

What I had been looking for since the first time I entered the museum, the grave of Soe Hok Gie, a Chinese-Indonesian student activist. Due to the removal, his family decided to cremate his corpse, then spreaded the ashes at Mandalawangi Pangrango, his favourite place.

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.

A replica of the 17th century hearse. A hearse, at that time, indicated the social status of a person, depending on the horses that drew the hearse

A replica of the 17th century hearse. A hearse, at that time, indicated the social status of a person, depending on the number of horses that drew it.

This was a grave of a Dutch family which resembled a house. We did open the door, you know. Guess what we found? It was something shocking...

This was a grave of a Dutch family that resembled a house. We did open the door, you know. Guess what we found? It was something shocking that you’d never want to imagine. Ever!

Was it Cupid? Shrug. It was cute, though

Hi, there, cutie…

Well, this was one of those statues that tragically had to lose some parts of their bodies. See, she was too sad that she cried over her arm

Well, this was one of those statues which sadly had to lose part of their bodies. See, she was too sad that she looked like she cried over her arm…

This little angel apparently was sleepy

Hm, I thought it was a whole one grave, when in truth, there were two graves here. The large one was a grave of a woman named Alpheda Louisa Six, daughter of Cornelis Charles baron Six van Oterleek, a Dutch politician.

Well, this tombstone was way too cool!

This gravestone was way too cool! What made it even cooler was the fact that it was a grave of Dr. H. F. Roll, the founder of STOVIA (The School tot Opleiding van Inlandsche Artsen), a famous medicine school in Batavia where some national awakening leaders of Indonesia studied.

A gigantic cross tombstone. Majestic

A majestic cross gravestone. Here rests U. M. F. Airey, son of a reverend.

A gloomy lady

A gloomy lady in veil.

A praying child

A praying child looking up.

This was her, the famous mourning lady that you can find in the front view of the cemetery. With her face turned downward, she did look like she was miserably in pain...

This was her, the famous mourning lady which you can find in the front view of the cemetery. With her face turned downward, she did look like she was miserably in grief…

Another well-known weeping woman here was her. Yep, she was crying over her loved one...

There she was, another well-known weeping woman of the cemetery. Yep, she was crying over her late loved ones…

Unlike her two friends, she seemed to be more settled

Unlike her two friends, she seemed to be more settled.

Little angel, yo!

Little angel, whatcha doin’?

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!

Beside the green, green grass... Not

Beside the green, green grass… Not.

IMG_20140912_125001

“C’mon, grow more grasses!” Jesus commands.

Vandalism is the worst

Vandalism is the worst.

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!

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