Yogyakarta, photographs by Jill Gocher
Jill Gocher, a Bali based international photographer, has spent her life exploring and enjoying Asian cultures. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Time, International Herald Tribune, Asia Spa, Discovery, Silver Kris and many more. Her books – Asia’s legendary Hotels, Periplus, Bali- Island of Light – Marshall Cavendish, Indonesia – Islands of the Imagination. Periplus, Australia – the land down under – Times Editions, Singapore, Indonesia – the last paradise – Times Editions. She has held exhibitions in Singapore, Kathmandu, and Bali. Photojournalist + Media Consultant, AmazonPage: www.amazon.com/author/jillgocher www.jillgocher.com instagram jillgocher
Yogyakarta is a thriving town in Central Java and one of the most iconic places in Indonesia. Like many other places in Indonesia it is changing fast as businesses and industry grow and beautiful batiks and floral headwraps give way to the dun coloured jilbabs and drab dresses. But the creative spirit stays strong and the arts scene is thriving.
Art and artists grow in the warm and fecund atmosphere with many galleries holding exhibitions of cutting edge style.
Yet, behind the fast growing exuberance is an older more spiritual and traditional layer, the synceticity of old Java. Step inside the hallowed grounds of the historic Sultan’s palace – the Kraton and you will experience a different, more stately world. Pass through the ten foot thick, white walls and you enter a hallowed space where everything is cleanly and calmly in order and ancient traditions prevail.
Old abdi dalem or court retainers walk about with a dignity that is missing in the younger generations. Sundays and Wednesdays, the strains of silvery gamelan filter through the hallowed spaces as perfect classical dance performances entertain those who are interested. People are polite and refined with courtly manner. Surrounding the Kraton are the homes of the Palace servants and craftspeople and even today if you take a walk through the narrow lanes, you will possibly get a whiff of heating wax as they fire up to draw intricate and age old patterns on the raw cloth in preparation for the dyeing processes which are involved with batik production.
Sri Sultan Hamengubuwono X is the reigning Sultan and what makes Yogyakarta especially interesting is that during the leadup to Indonesia’s fight for Independence, most of Indonesia’s Royal Kingdoms sided with the Dutch rather than their own people and the young leader, Sukarno, who later became the nation’s first President. Because of the Sultans loyalty, he was rewarded with the special status on Independence – a status that is still in place today. The current Sultan is also a respected Member of Parliament.
© Jill Gocher