Saturday, 13 April 2013

Cirebon Trails

I'm trying to locate the early religious settlers from Cirebon who came to Malacca in the early 1820s. They possibly came to 2 places in Malacca, Tengkerah (Tranquera) and Banda Hilir. What is special is that they brought along their practice of folk medicine, mainly of Chinese influence. There is also a big mystery surrounding the death of the founder of the 2 mosques, Masjid Tengkerah and Masjid Banda Hilir. He maybe 2 separate imams but I suspect he is one and the same man, my great-great grandfather. Why did the British kill him in their lockup? What fruit or nut can be forced into an adult man's oral cavity (mouth) and left in place to make him die of thirst, hunger and whatever? Since when are humans allowed to torture others?

I'm doing the Cirebon write-up first. I've not been to Indonesia but this is what I have gathered on Cirebon so far. I have not investigated the mosques and mausoleums in Cirebon. The last clue from Cirebon was in 2012. One year has passed and the Cirebon people have not returned to visit the great imam's tomb (makam) in Malacca. Things are still hazy.

Cirebon comes from 2 words - chai river and rebon (geragau, shrimp). Cirebon is a fishing port in West Java (Jawa Barat) and is famous for fish and shrimps (Kota Udang) in addition to batik and kaca tulis.

There is a main mosque (Masjid Besar Cirebon) and an ancient mosque (Masjid Trusmi, dated to 1500s). Trusmi village is also famous for batik. The awan mega mendung (stormy clouds) motif with Chinese details are characteristic of Cirebon batik.

In Kasepuhan village, there is a grand palace called Keraton Kasepuhan, in Cirebon city centre. It is regarded as the oldest keraton in Cirebon. However, there is another old palace nearby, Keraton Kanoman. The entrance to Keraton Kasepuhan has 2 white lions which are symbols of Prabu Siliwangi's pride. Keraton Kasepuhan is in Cirebon city centre, in Kasepuhan village. Gamelan  music dominates at palace performances in Cirebon. The most famous piece is the Gong Sekati or Sekaten, which is played twice a year. The marketplace, Pasar Kanoman is near Keraton Kanoman.

Approximately 5 km north of Cirebon city, towards the beach, is Astana Sunan Gunung Jati which houses the royal graves of Gunung Jati on its hill slopes. There are mausoleums (makam) behind the pavillion which only the sultan will open to visitors. Otherwise the mausoleums are closed to visitors. The locals come together during festivities to relive the story of a shipwreck where many died and were buried here.

Kuningan is a small town in the southern suburb and is cooler compared to Cirebon. It has the Sangkan Hurip hot springs and the historical Linggardjati building (Gedung Naksa). It was at this Linggardjati building where The Netherlands signed The Linggardjati Treaty with the Indonesian authorities, and the Republic of Indonesia (RI) was born in 1947. The hills lead to Mt Ciremai, the nearest volcano, and rice terraces cover its slopes.

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