It is located in the center of the city of Yogyakarta or just Yogya as the local people call it. Karaton means a place where the Ratu-king lives, other word is Kedaton, with the same meaning. In the Javanese teachings, it has a deep philosophical meaning.
The architect designer of this palace was Sultan Hamengkubuwono I himself, who was also the founder of the kingdom of NGAYOGYAKARTA HADININGRAT. His skill in architecture was appreciated by the dutch scientist - DR. Pigeund and DR. Adam who adored him as " the architect of his brother-Pakubuwono II of Surakarta".
The first king moved to his huge and magnificent Karaton on October 7, 1756. Although there are some European style of some parts of the building, structurally this is the vivid example of Javanese palace architecture.
The 14.000 sq. m of the Karaton Yogya has deep philosophical meaning with all its building, courts, carving, trees, and location. This is a Karaton full of significant symbols of human life.
Usually visitors are coming from MALIOBORO STREET, southward through the Alun-alun (north square). In order to understand perfectly well the symbolic meaning of the Karaton, one should walk from south to north. Start from Krapyak, a village of about 3 km south of Karaton.
|1. ||In the old days, Krapyak was a raised brick-stage, used by the sultans to watch his families and soldiers to hunting deers. Krapyak is located nearby small village, Mijen - from the word wiji means seed, symbolizing life, soul of human beings.[back to sketch]|
|2. ||Walk northward, through a straight street where on left and right sides grow the trees of asem becomes sengsem means adorable and tanjung becomes disanjung means cared. This is symbolizing life of child in a good path : adored and cared by the parents.|
|3. ||Arrive at the main entrance (Plengkung) gading depicting the child has become a teenager, adorable and neatly make-up.|
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|4. ||At the south square (Alun-alun) in the southern part there are two waringin (banyan) trees. The name of the trees are WOK abbreviation from the word BEWOK means beard. In the middle of this south square, there are two other waringin trees the name are Supit Urang meaning chopsticks of a shrimp, surrounded by fence in the form of archer's bow, symbolizing the sacred part of human body. So it must be protected (in the fence). The fence's bow form is characteristic of a girl and boy.[back to sketch]|
|5. ||Look around the south square, there are five streets entering the square, imagining of five human sense. The square is covered by sands, it means that human life has not been arranged. Other trees grow there namely kweni become wani (courage) and pakel (adult), meaning the child has become an adult who has courage to choose the partner.[back to sketch]|
|6. ||Further north, it is the Siti Hinggil (elevated land), surrounded by gayam trees, symbolizing the youngsters feeling in love, safe and happy. In the middle of Siti Hinggil (a large open veranda), there is a Selo Gilang (a square elevated stone), where the Sultan sit when receiving visitors from relatives or subordinates. In that case, describing a wedding-chair where the young couples sit side by side.|
The trees planted here are :
Both trees have plenty of red and white colors (symbolizing woman and man sperm). All these are symbols of a marriage of young adult couple, in a safe, pleasant and lovable atmosphere, they should make love to produce human beings.[back to sketch]
- Mangga Cempora, mangga is javanese language for please ; cempora describes mix.
- Soka, imagining pleasure.
|7. ||In the left and right side of Siti Hinggil there are bathroom. The Siti Hinggil surrounded by a street name Pamengkang, showing the positon when someone is sitting or lying with separated legs.[back to sketch]|
|8. ||Go further north, there is a yard named : Kemandungan, from the word kandung (pregnant) and the four trees planted here are :|
In the left and right side at this yard, there are street aiming to go out side, this is imagining the negative influences which could occur during the growth of the baby in his mother womb.[back to sketch]
- Pelem becomes gelem, that is the wish comes from both side.
- Kepel becomes kempel, unite mentally and physically.
- Jambu Dersono, dersono describing to be loved by other people.
- Cengkir Gading, a small yellowish coconut tree. The coconut used in the ceremony when a mother is seven month pregnant.
|9. ||Now, passing the Regol (gate) Gadungmlati, arrive in Kemagangan. The road is narrow in the beginning and then becomes wider and brighter. That means the baby is safely born, growing to be a man facing his future life. There are kitchen in this premises, named gebulen and sekullangen, describing that for the child's growth there are available a lot of food. The street on the left and right side of the premises are reflecting, the negative factors which could influence the child life. The child must be educated properly, to the right paths, to the north, to the Karaton, where the Sultan lives doing his duties. In Karaton he could attain his goals of life, therefore he has to work diligently, with good and correct manner, faithful not to break the rules. He must also always remember and serve to God almighty.[back to sketch]|
|In Karaton one has to follow the steps taken by the Sultan or Sri Sultan (the title is usually called by Yogyanese) before and after the ceremony of Grebeg in the north of Siti Hinggil (organized three times in a year, explaination of Grebeg follows in other articles). Sri Sultan steps out from Sri Manganti gate, facing the bangsal (hall) Ponconiti, ponco means five senses ; niti means to inspect. The yard is called Kamandungan (collect), planted with trees of Tanjung, Kepel (unite), Cengkir Gading - yellow coconut (the holy color of God). That's mean that Sri Sultan has to concentrate his five senses and mind because he is going to worship the holy God.[back to sketch]
Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX
|11. ||He is entering the gate (Regol) Brojonolo (brojo means weapon; nala means heart) and sees a stone wall. "Renteng mentog baturana" (renteng means worry; baturana means stone divider) which describes that Sri Sultan should not be worried to implement a just government. There is a tree - Jambu Tlampok Arum (Arum means fragrant), meaning "Speak always nicely, so your name will be famous all over the world".|
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|12. ||Sri Sultan is now in North of Siti Hinggil, in the south, four trees of kemuning (ning - clear), then he steps to bangsal Witono (a seat in heaven) could also means begin. That is imagining "clear your thoughts and begin to pray".[back to sketch]|
|13. ||The place have to be arranged by two subordinates by names of Wignya (clever), and Derma (destiny), symbolizing " You should be clever to sit in your throne as you are destined to represent God Almighty to rule your people".|
|14. ||Bangsal (hall) Manguntur Tangkil : a high place to worship God. The Bangsal Manguntur Tangkil is located inside the Bangsal Witono, this is describing that inside the body, there is soul or life spirit. Sri Sultan is ready to meditate (samadi) the gamelan (Javanese musical instruments) by the name Kyai Monggang is played slowly and rhythmically following his breathing in meditation. The meditator has to arrange his breathing and concentrate solemnly by closing the nine holes of his body.[back to sketch]|
|15. ||In front of Siti Hinggil, there are Tarub Ageng (great, glory) and pagelaran, in the old days it was a place for the Patih (king's chief-minister) and other subordinates to wait before meeting Sri Sultan for audience. Gelar here means bright. That's describing that anybody who is meditating, submitting his/her life totally to the hands of God is in a great and bright path, as a gift from God.[back to sketch]|
|16. ||Alun-alun (the North Square) with the two waringin trees are a comparison with someone's experience in samadi. He/she is feeling calmly and happily, as if he/she is a twin, microcosmos unite macrocosmos. He /she has to go on with the samadi, avoiding temptations.[back to sketch]|
|17. ||Go further north, there are :|
Beringharjo Market :
symbolizing temptations and obstacles during samadi, in the market there are plenty of delicious foods, jewels, luxurious things, beautiful women and handsome men.
is the office of the patih, the sultan's chief-officer. It's a place where power is executed ; rank, promotion of officers are decided and finance is arranged.
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||Pillar, symbolizing the acceptance of samadi. If the meditator could reach tugu safely, he could reject the temptations of usual world desire and lust. Such as material wealth, high ranking position, delicious foods and drinks, a lust toward opposite sex and more over he/she always does good and correct thinking and conducts, by God blessing, the meditator could attain his goal in samadi, the Javanese says : in a position of "Manunggaling kawulo Gusti", manunggal means unity; kawulo means servant, human beings; Gusti means God. So, manunggaling kawulo Gusti means "The spiritual unity of the man and God, the creature and creator". Everything could be happened by the wish of God Almighty.|
|18. ||The above explains the philosophical meaning of Karaton Yogyakarta. It is worth to note that daily situation in the Karaton is alive. The Karaton is attended by dignified and elderly retainers wearing traditional Javanese dress.|
|19. ||Now Sri Sultan is heading back to the palace, through Kemandungan yard, where some keben (shut) trees grow, meaning 'shut your eyes and ears, as you should be ready to go to die (to another world).|
|20. ||He is greeted by his wife and children, and two young ministers in Sri Manganti Hall, offering some drinks. This is depicting two angels are ready to show him the way as in accordance with Al-Qur'an.[back to sketch]|
|21. ||Bangsal Trajumas which stands in front of Sri Manganti, means "You must know what is right and wrong. Don't think anymore of anything in this earth, your wife and family, you are leaving them".[back to sketch]|
|22. ||In the south, there is a building called 'Purworetno' meaning "We must always remember where do we come from".[back to sketch]|
|23. ||He passes the gate Donopratopo, means "A good man always gives something to others voluntarily and he is able to erase lust".|
|24. ||The two statues of giants, the one has a good manner, the second is a bad giant. Showing "You must be able to differentiate, God and evil".|
|25. ||Sri Sultan goes to Bangsal Kencono (Golden Pavilion), describing the unity of human beings and God.[back to sketch]|
|26. ||Then, he enters the pavilion Praba Yeksa. Praba means light, bright. Yeksa means big. In this pavilion there is a lamp which is always burning. According to ancient belief, the travel to eternal life is following a light.[back to sketch]|
|27. ||Next to Prabayekso is gedong Kuning (yellow house), symbolizing the home of the peaceful spirits in heaven.[back to sketch]|
Inside the Karaton, there is a museum dedicated to the late Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, the father of the present Sultan Hamengkubuwono X. Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX was a famous political figure and leader in Indonesia. His support and contribution for the Republic of Indonesia to gain independence are sincerely respected and recognized by almost every citizen.
Yogyakarta was temporary capital of Indonesia (1946-1949) and by law is granted the status of special region equals to province. The museum exhibit gilt copies of sacred Pusaka (the heirlooms), gifts from foreign monarchs, gamelan, royal carriages and some photos of the royal families and family tree.
There is a special pavillion dedicated to the active participation of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX for the struggle of Indonesia's independence.
Besides his position as a traditional leader as the Sultan of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, he was also appointed as the Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region for life by the President of RI.
The Present Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region
The present Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, has been inaugurated in October 3, 1998 as the Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region upon request by the people of Yogyakarta. It is a sign of appreciation for his dedication to the people and the country. In the recently difficult period, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, has emerged as one of the national trustworthy leaders for peaceful reformation.
Arts, Cultures, Rituals and Other Information of Karaton Yogyakarta
From traditional leader to Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region.
(Suryo S. Negoro)