18 January 2008

Virtual Taman Sari Jogjakarta Interactive Multimedia CD

We had developed the Virtual Taman Sari Jogjakarta Interactive Multimedia CD. The screenshots of inside the CD are below.

- Interactive menu
- Articles, Photos and Sketches of Taman Sari
- Virtual Tour to Taman Sari Jogjakarta
- 3D Animation
- Map of Taman Sari
- Tour Guide to Jogjakarta City

The Construction of Taman Sari (2)

Tumenggung Mangundipura

Y. Groneman wrote in his article about Taman Sari (“Het waterkasteel te Yogyakarta,” TBG. XXX 1885, page 414-436) that the instruction to build Taman Sari came from Hamengku Buwono I.

The Sultan appointed Raden Tumenggung Mangundipura to lead this project. Tumenggung Mangundipura travelled twice to Batavia (now Jakarta) to learn about European architecture. This explains why the architecture of Taman Sari also had marks of European style. And this doesn’t contradict the presence of Javanese philosophy in the architecture.

Taman Sari (above) shows architecture elements from Batavia (below).

Ancient manuscripts in Keraton Jogjakarta support this story, by stating that Prince Mangkubumi or Hamengku Buwono I was the man behind the construction. The manuscript also describes how how the Regent of Madiun participated in Taman Sari’s construction as an alternative way to pay taxes.

Do you know?

The original name of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I is Raden Mas Sujana. Pangeran Mangkubumi was his title before ascending to throne.

Raden Rangga Prawirasentika, the Regent of Madiun, beseeched the Sultan to be relieved of Madiun’s tax obligation. He offered other alternative ways of payment. The Sultan accepted his proposal.

In 1758, the Sultan commanded the Regent to supervise the making of bricks and various complements, which would be used to build a beautiful garden. Sultan wanted a place where he could spend some time to relax after long years of wars that he had just experienced. Raden Tumenggung Mangundipura, under supervision of Raden Arya Natakusuma (who later became Sri Pakualam II), was responsible for the construction. A sengkalan memet saying “Catur Naga Rasa Tunggal” was built, denoting the year when the command was issued (1684 Javanese year or 1758 A.D.).

The very first structures included Sultan’s bed and tunnels leading to keraton (also known as phantom cave), which were built in 1761 A.D. A candra sengkala marks the event. The relief symbolizes the sentence “Pujining Brahmana Ngobahake Pajungutan,” which represents the Javanese year 1687.

After finding out how large the complex was, Raden Rangga Prawirasentika realized that the cost would’ve been greater than the taxes. He then pleaded again before Sultan to relieve him from the project. Prince Natakusuma then continued the project to completion.

The building of Taman Sari ended upon completion of the gates and walls construction. A sengkalan memet placed on Gapura Agung still marks this event. The relief shows some birds siphoning honey from flowery trees. It symbolizes the sentence “Lajering Kembang Sinesep Peksi,” which denotes the 1691 Javanese year or 1765 A.D.

The Construction of Taman Sari (1)

There are conflicting opinions regarding who built Taman Sari and why. Records only exist in forms of old manuscripts, scriptures, or tell-tales. From all the documentation, we’ve summed up two different versions below.

Demang Tegis: A myth?

A strange man suddenly appeared in Mancingan Village (somewhere in southern shore of Jogjakarta). With long nose and white complexion, he looked unlike any of the locals. He even spoke in a language that noone understood. The surprised villagers suspected that the person was some kind of spirit or forest fairy.

They then presented him to the current Sultan, Hamengku Buwono II. Apparently the Sultan found an interest in the strange person and took the strange man as his servant.

Some years had elapsed and the man had finally learned to talk in Javanese. According to him, he was a Portuguese (or in Javanese, Portegis) who was stranded from a shipwreck. He also claimed to have been a housebuilder, back in his homeland.

Sultan then ordered him to erect a fortress. Satisfied by the man’s work, HB II gave him the title “demang.” From then on that person was known as Demang Portegis or Demang Tegis. This Demang Tegis, so they say, was commanded to build Taman Sari. Some people rationalize that this is why Taman Sari showed signs of European architecture (Portuguese).

The strong Javanese character in Taman Sari doesn’t reflect Portuguese architectural style

The story, however, has a few flaws. Taman Sari’s architectural design more resembles a hybrid style of Javanese and Dutch, rather than Portuguese.

P.J. Veth, in Java – Book III, page 631 also wrote, “Local research says that [Taman Sari’s design] was architected by either a Spanish or Portuguese engineer, who was stranded off his sunken ship at the southern beach. However, [the architecture] that strongly shows Javanese character contradicts this.”

If Demang Tegis wasn’t the architect of Taman Sari, who then?

The Purpose

Taman Sari was built three years after Giyanti Agreement (1755) took place. Sultan Hamengku Buwono I just went through years of guerrilla warfare. Therefore, he wanted to create a place for rest and relaxation, as well as a retreat. The presence of a religious site called Sumur Gumuling in the complex supports the latter possibility.

Some also said that the Sultan built Taman Sari as a token of gratitude towards his queen, who had been an obedient companion during the hardships of war.

Apart from the above reasons, Taman Sari also functioned as a fortress or a mean to face any threat or danger.

Behind the Names of Taman Sari

Taman Sari is derived from two words, namely, “taman,” meaning a garden or park and “sari,” which means either beautiful or flowers. Hence, the name “Taman Sari” means an area of a beautiful garden adorned with various captivating plants and flowers. Located in the western part of Jogjakarta’s keraton (castle), this garden took years to finish.

The Dutch came out with the name Water Castle. An old article by Groneman described a “waterkasteel” in Jogjakarta. By shutting the watergates, the complex would be completely immersed in water, leaving tall structures standing out.

The building of Taman Sari had commenced during the reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I (1755-1792) and was completed by Sultan Hamengku Buwono II. The building site, however, had already been known as a bathing place called Pacethokan Spring since Sunan Amangkurat IV’s reign. Its clear water ran deep.

Do you know?
The Pacethokan spring became one of the most important aspects on deciding where Keraton Jogjakarta would lie.


Taman Sari belonged to Jogjakarta, a part of Mataram Kingdom. Mataram originally had been a great kingdom consisted of many sovereignties. The largest was Surakarta.

Jogjakarta was founded by Prince Mangkubumi, a relative of Pakubuwono II, who is the ruler of Surakarta. Having a grudge against VOC whose influence in Mataram kingdom kept growing, he turned against his former sovereignty, Surakarta and VOC. After years of guerrilla warfare, he finally established a sovereignty of his own, called Jogjakarta.

Ascending the throne, Prince Mangkubumi became Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. VOC and Surakarta acknowledged Hamengku Buwono I’s rule through the Giyanti Agreement in 1755.

Taman Sari was located at the capital city, with the same name as the sovereignty itself, Jogjakarta.

Do You Know?
The Dutch colonized Indonesia through a multinational trading company called Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (The Dutch East India Company) or VOC. This is why ancient Indonesians called Dutch representatives “Kumpeni.”