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» Historical Treasures in the Indonesian National Museum
Historical Treasures in the Indonesian National Museum
by: Dina Indrasafitri

Get ready for a crash course in history. The Indonesian National Museum is the oldest museum in Jakarta, also making it one of the most precious. The museum holds a number of valuable and beautiful objects inside, a visit there might give you eye-opening lessons about mankind.

More widely known as the ‘Elephant Museum’ or the ‘Museum Gajah’, this is due to the large elephant statue installed in front of the main building. Given by a Siamese King back in 1877, the museum itself was built in 1778 by a Dutch General-Governor named Reinier de Klerk.

The history-teller contains artifacts and items from pre-historical and historical times and these collections are divided into several categories and further subjugated into nine different rooms.

First up is the Pre-historical Room. Fascinating objects from the Paleolithic and Neolithic times such as fossils of prehistoric men and their equipments await you here. The human fossils were from those found in the Islands of Indonesia, and this collection includes the famous pitecanterophus erectus. The controversial subject of evolution aside, you can catch a glimpse of what the lives of our prehistoric friends were like. Contrary to your Flinstones propaganda, they did not pedal their way around in stone-age ‘cars’ or use a large seashell as a telephone.

Prepare yourself for an escapade, with the treasures room that follows next. Divided into two separate rooms, the Archaeology Room and the Ethnography Room, the treasures are mostly made of gold or silver. One of its most famous collections is the 35 Kg heap of precious artifacts believed to come from the Java Classical era. Within the Ethnography Room are ancient crafts and equipments gathered from every part of Indonesia, from Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

Next, welcome to the area regarded as one of the most superior part of this Museum: the Stone Sculpture Courtyard. Most of the limestones or sandstones statues are influenced by the Hinduism or Buddhism religion. The main attraction is the Bhairawa statue, believed to have been made in the 13th or 14th century. With a height of about 4 metres, this is the highest statue inside the National Museum, and it takes on a formidable shape of a man standing on top of a pile of skulls, holding a skull-shaped chalice.

The ceramic section, on the other hand will introduce you to ceramic artifacts from various part of the world, such as China, Japan Myanmar and Indonesia. The collection reflects the interaction between the Indonesian Archipelago and other cultures in the past. Several theories of gestural gifts and trade means tried to explain how those ceramics arrived in Indonesia in the first place. However, these objects remain elusive in their purpose. You will probably be intrigued by the green seladon plate, known to be able to change color when poisoned food is placed on it.

Other interesting subjects  include the Bronze Age, with its feature of the ‘nekara’, a huge bronze drum of unclear origins and also the Textile Collections Room, showcasing  woven materials from Indonesia, rich in symbolism and intricacity.

Aside from that, the Museum also holds other features that will help you better understand the history of Indonesia. While you stand in wonder of this famous archipelago, knowing its background will help you appreciate it better. From colonial proofs to a room filled with maps, you will be able to form a timeline worthy of the history textbooks.

Address : National Museum,
Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat No.10-11, Gambir, Central Jakarta

About The Author

Dina Indrasafitri, Travel Writer

Dina writes for SD Indonesia Editorial team for Streetdirectory.co.id. Robert J Steiner manages Streetdirectory.co.id & FlowerAdvisor.co.id, well known for for online Flowers & Gifts in Indonesia.

Dina finished her Major in Sociology in 2005. After working in Medan for several months and giving a shot at different jobs she finds that her love for writing, food, interior design and her hometown Jakarta had lead her to become a writer at Streetdirectory.com.

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