Thu, 11 Aug 1994

Great Procession to highlight `Kraton' Festival

YOGYAKARTA (JP): A caravan of vintage carriages and men dressed as traditional Javanese soldiers will kick off the week long Kraton Festival billed as the largest ever held in this provincial town.

Known locally as Kirab Ageng (the Great Procession), the fanfare will involve several antique carriages and 1,500 guards from the Yogyakarta Royal Palace as well as the Kasunanan Surakarta, Puro Pakualaman, Puro Mangkunegaran, Kasepuhan Cirebon, Kanoman Cirebon and Kacirebonan palaces. They will circle the Yogyakarta Royal Palace fortress on Saturday, beginning the festivities that will run through to Aug. 20.

"We have thoroughly overhauled the carriages to make sure that nothing will go wrong with them during the upcoming carnival," said a 85 year old museum official of Kraton Yogyakarta.

The procession, expected to draw a great deal of attention from both foreign and domestic tourists, will mark the opening of the third Kraton Festival, whose major goal is to conserve the nation's cultural heritage while boosting tourism.

Held at Kraton Yogyakarta and Puro Pakualaman, another Yogyakarta royal palace, the festival will feature a vast array of cultural programs, including a large scale exhibition of the artifacts from the palaces, traditional dance, music and wayang kulit (leather puppet) performances.

Among the artifacts to be showcased are carriages, kris, various traditional weapons, royal wedding stretchers, umbrellas and ancient scripts.

The carriages are on loan from the palace museums in Cirebon, Surakarta and Yogyakarta. They will include the Kanjeng Nyai Jimad, one of the 15 remaining antique carriages housed in the Museum Kareta (Carriages Museum) here. The carriage dates back to 1750 when Hamengku Buwono I was in power. Another historically significant carriage is the 130 year old Garuda Yeksa, an uniquely designed carriage with gilded dragons used mainly for coronation ceremonies.


The Kraton artifacts are considered sacred because they are closely linked to their original owners in spirit, according to a royal palace spokesman.

Heirlooms of the mighty kings believed to possess supernatural powers were greatly honored, he said.

GBPH Jayakusumo of Kraton Yogyakarta said that Kraton activities, such as the exhibition of the palace's artifacts, should not only benefit tourism but other sectors as well.

"The Kraton should serve as a cultural center with activities aimed at the public interest," he said.

Apart from the cultural programs, there will also be bird singing contests, vintage motorcycle and bicycle displays and a demonstration of Mataram archery, where the archers are required to sit cross-legged.

The event will add to the festive aura of the city's royal palace already enlivened by the ongoing month long night fair in its square.

Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Soesilo Soedarman is scheduled to deliver an opening speech at the Melia Purosani Sol hotel where the sultans of the seven royal palaces will receive tokens of appreciation for their tangible contribution in developing tourism in the country.

The festival is being organized jointly by the local tourism agency, the tourism, post and telecommunications office and the information office.

-- Sudibyo M. Wiradji