ULLEN SENTALU MUSEUM: THE PATH OF JAVANESE FEMINISM

The popular impression of Ullen Sentalu, when people come to visit it, is so feminism. Ullen Sentalu is really deep with the glow of Javanese woman. Located at Taman Kaswargan[1] in Kaliurang, Yogyakarta, Ullen Sentalu was inaugurated officially at March 01, 1997 by KGPAA Paku Alam VII as the governor of Yogyakarta at the time. This private museum was initiated by Haryono family in 1994 and now is managed by Ulating Blencong Foundation. As a Javanese museum, Ullen Sentalu shows a lot of life values.

First, the name of Ullen Sentalu comes from the several letters of Ulating Blencong Sejatine Tataning Lumaku, which is one of the ancient proverbs in Java. It is translated freely as the light of true life for the path of human life, which said that the manners of human in his life are like blencong[2]. When someone walks hurried, fire as the lighting will be flickering as the wind blow. On the contrary, as he walks slowly, the fire will be more stable. The meaning of this proverb is expected to be a compass of life.

Second, Taman Kaswargan philosophically was chosen as the location of Ullen Sentalu. Situated at high slopes of Merapi volcano, Ullen Sentalu had ever become enclosed place for public because Merapi was convinced as a sacred place for Javanese.  The implied meaning of its location was the Javanese culture is believed to have some high values and must be treated with respect. There are some specific requirements to learn it deeply.

At last, Ullen Sentalu shows off the thinking of royalties which is represented by artifacts. The stories behind the artifacts prove that Ullen Sentalu do not only focus on the pure feudalism palace. It is fairer in displaying Javanese culture without intent to give special restrictions of the palace. It could be proved by the love story of GRAj. Koes Sapariyam. Her choice was not permitted by his father, as the king of palace. In Javanese culture, especially in the palace, the princess should be submissive to his father, even for finding her mate. The story of GRAj. Koes Sapariyam was contrary to Javanese culture. The other story is GRAy. Nurul Kamaril Ngarasati Kusumawardhani Surjosoejarso who refused the polygamy principle in her wedding life. In Java, it was common for royalty-men to have more than one wife. The two stories had become the evidences that Ullen Sentalu also displays the controversial attitudes of royalties.

Entirely, Ullen Sentalu has 6 great spaces to be explored, which are:

  1. Entrance Room

Here, there are the epigraph about the story of museum establishment and the statue of Dewi Sri[3] which symbolizes the expectation of prosperity.

  1. Gamelan[4] and Dance Art Room

This room would like to show off that Javanese is managed tightly by tradition and good manners. The beat of gamelan are able to understood as a breath of Javanese philosophy in behaving. The dance paintings of royalty-princess, which show the dance harmonious movements, depict the regularity of life.

  1. Guwa Sela Giri[5]

In the Javanese philosophy, mountain or volcano has a deep meaning. Its contour which is squiggly symbolizes there is no flawless life, even for royalties.

  1. Kampung Kambang[6]
    1. Balai Sekar Kedaton
    2. Royal Room Ratu Mas
    3. Vorstendlanden Batik Room
    4. Batik Pesisiran Room
    5. Putri Dambaan Room
    6. Retja Landa Corridor

This corridor exhibits the statues of god and goddess of Hinduism and Buddhaism which depict the influences of religion system in Mataram Royal before the entry of Islam.

  1. Sasana Sekar Bawana
  • Bedhaya Ketawang Portrait
  • Portrait of Sultan Hamengku Buwono X – GKR Hemas with Prince Charles – Lady Diana.
  • The statue of Javanese bride with Paes Ageng Yogyakarta style.

After all, to close the journey of feminism path in Java, Ullen Sentalu specially provides Wedang Rempah[7], which was believed it can make someone looks ageless.


[1] Freely translated as Paradise Garden.

[2] It was kind of the ancient lighting equipment. In Indonesia itself, it was popular as lampu teplok.

[3] The name of fertility goddess.

[4] It is a set of traditional music instruments from Java and Bali.

[5] It is a cave which is flanked by mountain.

[6] Freely translated as floating village.

[7] It is a type of drink which is made from herb plants.

*Share the experience of exploring Ullen Sentalu; special for Rotaract Tugu Yogya Bulletin.

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