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YOGYAKARTA > KRATON > The Villages
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LOCATION:
The many villages ("wilayah" or "kampung") located in a well-arranged grid system within the gates of Yogyakarta's Keraton complex.

DESCRIPTION:

Jl Sido Mukti is just one of the many streets that line across the many exquisite Keraton villages that surround the palace on all its four sides. The villages surprisingly were designed in an almost grid-like system, which was considered well ahead of modern city planning in developed countries around the world.

You may embark on walking tour on any of the villages. Pedestrian-friendly streets, narrow alleys across delicately preserved houses and peaceful settings mark the atmosphere. While admiring a tastefully designed Keraton home, an andong or dokar (horse cart) may pass in front of you, as if the whole area has yet to embrace the mundane concept of modernity of big cars and ugly steel-frame structures.

You may try to lose yourself in the labyrinth of streets. At some corners, you may run into a traditional batik painting studio. The studio owner, just like any other artists, would probably welcome you into the compound to see how this work of art is manifested into beautiful wall frames. Or find yourself in the arrays of gift shops around the village. Catered mainly for tourists, the prices can be steep, so I do not particularly recommend shopping for anything much here.

A little bit on the Keraton gates ("benteng", "gerbang" or "plengkung") and the villages. Perhaps taking cue from the nearby Candi Prambanan, there are 4 corner stones (called "benteng sudut" or "pojok") at each of the 4 corners of the palace complex. There are also 5 gates or archways that denote the entrance into the villages - Plengkung Jagasura in the northwest, Plengkung Tarunasura in the northeast, Plengkung Tambakbaya in the east, Plengkung Nirbaya in the south, and Plengkung Jagabaya in the west.

There are close to 20 distinct villages with the palace gates. In the old days, these villages were presided by the peasants who worked at the Keraton. I am not entirely sure if it is still the case today. The village names that I could find are as below:

Kadipaten - in the northwest, name derived from the respectable Keraton concern of Adipati
Kauman - in the north, adjacent to Masjid Agung, name derived from "kaum" which mean "ethnicity"
Ratawijayan - in the north, adjacent to Siti Hinggil Pagelaran, name derived from its old function as the place to keep the Keraton's horse carriages (kereta kuda)
Palawijan - in the north, adjacent to the main palace, name derived from the special status of handicapped servants accorded by the Sultans
Bludiran - in the north, near Alun Alun Lor, name derived from the people who embellish royal clothes with golden thread
Musikanan - in the north, near Pagelaran, name derived from the musicians who lived in the area
Kemitbumen - in the north, near Pagelaran, name derived from the residents who worked in the Keraton as general cleaners
Kenekan - in the northeast, name derived from the people who were assisting the Keraton's horse riders
Sawojajar - in the northeast, name derived from a sawo (sapodilla or "chiku") tree that had two branches ("jajar")
Panembahan - to the east of the main palace, name derived from the title given to Pangeran Purbaya who was the son of Sultan Hamengku Buwana VIII
Mantrigawen - in the east, mantri gawe is a place in the Keraton where the security officers reside
Gamelan - in the southeast, oddly has nothing to do with the musical instrument but actually was inhabited by caretakers of the Keraton's horses
Siliran - in the southeast, name derived from the people who took care of the lightings ("dian") in the Keraton
Langenastran - in the south, adjacent to Alun Alun Kidul, name derived from a group of soldiers ("prajurit") who protected the Sultans
Suryaputran - northeast of Alun Alun Kidul, name derived from Pangeran Suryaputra
Ngadisuryan - northwest of Alun Alun Kidul, name derived from Pangeran Hadi Surya
Patehan - west and southwest of Alun Alun Kidul, name derived from "teh" ("tea" in English)
Nagan - south of Taman Sari, name derived from the local word "niaga" which means "trading" or "selling"

MY VERDICT:
Intriguing palace community concept.

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