woensdag 11 mei 2016

Baron Sakender, Coen: reports from Peter Carey

After reading the  book from Rijksmuseum, also with reports of the images of Diponegoro, I decided that it was time to start reading the thick book (1000 pages) by Peter Carey on (as he writes it now) Dipanagara. It is a wonderful book with many perspectives: the administrative, political and economic history of the region from late VOC to British rule, beginning of the Culture System under Dutch rule. But intimate stories about the Princ and his family. It is about the love for his country, culture and religion (Islam in the 'mystical synthesis' with Javanese cultural lore) and the threat of Dutch agression. The personal experienses opf the Prince, his sense of a calling. It is all lively described with many quotes from beautiful sources. I bought the book in 2007, but only have opened it now and read most of it. It is full with nice pictures, old photographs, drawings, also from javanese manuscripts. When compared to its sequel (Vincent Houben on Java, 1830-1870) the difference is clear between the PhD of the young Houben and this ripe book, covering the period 1780s until 1830.
There is very much that can be written about the book. One of the many inetresting things I read here was a more comprehensive overview of the content and meaning of the Baron Sakendher story. In the 1930s and considered it basically as something Javanese about the story of Isandar/Alexander the Great, now including the Dutch arriving in Java. Ricklefs has given in 1974 (Jogjakarta under Sultan Mangkubumi, 1749-1792) pp. 377-407 a synopsis with many suggestions for its interpretation. In this book, Peter Carey has taken just one aspect more clearly (pp. 167): the difference between Sunda/West Java and the Central Javanese districts. Batavia is located on the edge of the mysterious world of the spirits, located in the kingdom of Pajajaran. Coen according to the Serat Sakondhar is born from a princess of Pajajaran and so the Dutch are the continuation of the rulers of Pajajaran. Ratu Kidul in this tradition is another princess of Pajajaran, but from her the Mataram rulers took their origin. It is just one of the nice interpretations in this book. Thank you, Peter, for giving us this book!

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