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  • Gaze and Experience in Junghuhn's Java Album

Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn's1 study of Javanese mountains and landforms produced a significant body of publications, maps and illustrations, earning him the moniker "Humboldt of Java". Junghuhn's Java Album is a visually stunning folio of lithographs depicting the volcanoes of Java in their various states of dormancy and activity. Like many natural history drawings, Junghuhn's Java Album was not necessarily produced as a work of art in its own right, but as a form of documentation and illustration accompanying his written work in a four-volume publication Java, deszelfs gedaante, bekleding en inwendige structuur2 [Java, Its Shape, Cladding and Internal Structure] first published in 1854. Java Album is also continuously referred to within the four-volume tome as "Atlas". In many ways, Java, deszelfs gedaante, bekleding en inwendige structuur (hereinafter referred to as Java) as a combined body of work reflects the ethics and ideals of "Humboldtian Science", a vision of an integrative knowledge derived from observations and measurements of natural phenomena and their interconnectedness as a whole.3 Junghuhn combined precise measurement and observation with a matching commitment to depict his work as an impressive array of visual material, including drawings, maps and information graphics or charts. [End Page 383]

The plates in Java Album were initially produced by Carl Wilhelm Mieling after Junghuhn's drawings; Mieling was a Hague-based printer who produced other renowned series of chromolithograph prints such as De Indische Archipel4 folio featuring works by artists such as the renowned painter from Java Raden Saleh. Another set of plates based on the same drawings was produced by German-based printer Wicnkelmann & Sohne, with variations in detailing, colour, and a comparably smaller plate size than the Mieling edition. These accompany the German version of the four-volume Java, seine Gestalt, Pflanzendecke, und sein innerer Bau.5

The scale of Java Album presented a considerable technical challenge and required a significant investment for its production. There are 11 large coloured plates within Java Album itself and a smaller plate of Gunung6 Lamongan tipped at the front of Java volume one. Junghuhn writes that the prints in Java Album began as in situ drawings.7 In spite of this, the early reception of Java Album within the category of artistic lithographic print production was not favourable. Whilst Junghuhn's textual accounts in Java were well received by critics of the late 19th century, his drawings in Java Album did not receive equal acclaim. In particular, two eminent Dutch critics Veth and Ten Kate saw little value in the artistry of the lithography prints. Veth comments that while Junghuhn is talented with words, he is less so with art. He notes Junghuhn's failure in depicting perspective in his landscapes and comments that his rendering has a hardness that makes the landscape look unnatural.8 More than 20 years later, Ten Kate writes that there is zero artistic value in Java Album, despite his respect for Junghuhn. He considers Junghuhn a painter of words and attributes the lack of success for the prints to the lithographer. On the other hand, he also asserts that the prints depict one of the most faithful description of the island, especially when seen together with Junghuhn's text.9

I first encountered Junghuhn's Java Album, printed by Mieling, in the library of Bandung's Geological Museum (Museum Geologi) in 2015. I was pleasantly surprised to see a folio with images of the mountains that I am familiar with depicted in a consummate, but also stark and revealing manner. Gone are the fogs or the incomplete viewpoint that I associate with the experience of these volcanoes; instead they are captured in perfect sunny weather, the mountain form presented succinctly to the viewer. The rhythm of browsing pages of mountains reminded me of the experience of viewing Chinese landscape paintings in the leaf album format—intimate, prosaic, wandering. Denis Cosgrove notes that many popular images of Humboldtian tropical geography converges mapping and pictorial imagery to "convey a more experiential tropicality within the cool discourse of geographical [End Page 384] science".10 Similarly, in Junghuhn's Java Album and Java, sensuous narratives of mountain landscapes are conveyed through the combination of measurement, reporting and graphic representation.

Junghuhn's work in geology, natural history and map-making was groundbreaking in his time, but his scientific achievements were gradually superseded by generations of scientists that followed his footsteps with more advanced apparatuses and emerging scientific theories. More recently, his life and work have become a subject of interest in studies on the history of science and colonial scholarship in the tropics in the 19th century,11 where Western enlightenment science became an important tool in reinforcing Western colonial ideology over indigenous knowledge on nature. Junghuhn's Java Album has also been included in surveys of lithographic prints of the colonial indies written in the 19th centuries in Dutch12 and a relatively more recent survey written in English by John Bastin and Bea Brommer.13 A research project led by Philip Ursprung and Alexander Lehnerer follows Junghuhn's travel across Java's volcanoes, and the project has generated exhibitions, a catalogue publication,14 an article by Ursprung that considers the landscape typology of Java's volcanoes as a possible prototype of a future city15 and Adriane Joergensen's writing on drawing and representing volcanoes as a figure.16 Junghuhn's travels and his vivid records in the form of text and drawings stood at the interstice of several established disciplinary practices and readily captures one's imagination, but a systematic and extensive study of his output is still wanting. Java Album has not been studied in great detail as a visual representation and a landscape drawing. Furthermore, the drawings in Java Album have not been analysed alongside ideological concerns surrounding colonial depictions of natives,17 tropical landscapes18 and monumental ruins,19 which are often complicit in justifying or rationalising colonial conquests.

This paper studies Junghuhn's Java Album as visual representations though the exploration of gaze and experience, in a bid to consider both the value and implications of Java Album within the context that it was created and received. Images within Java Album are analysed alongside Java, which contains description about the plates in Java Album, and is the main body of research Java Album was intended to illustrate. A major challenge to this research is the fact that Junghuhn only wrote in Dutch and German, with a few deliberate use of Javanese terms. Currently there is no published English translation of Java. Most young, educated Indonesians such as myself are raised to be bilingual in Bahasa Indonesia and English; my East Javanese heritage gave me a familiarity with the informal register of Javanese language, which is sufficient to decode Junghuhn's limited use of Javanese references. [End Page 385] Within the relatively short period of the fellowship, I attempted to learn the rudiments of the Dutch language. In addition I enlisted the help of a translator, Johanna Straatman, who became indispensable in giving more precise interpretations of selected passages from Java that can be used as sources in interpreting Java Album.

Landscape as Art, Science and Natural Resource

In the present day, the term "landscape" is widely studied in several academic fields such as geology, geography, ecology, architecture, design and art history, often drawing simultaneously from the languages of several disciplines. The 18th century saw instances of the remarkable consciousness of landscape as an interdisciplinary practice. Carl Gustav Carus, a German physiologist who was also an avid painter and theorist on art coined the term Erdleben-Bildkunst, or earth-life painting, in a series of letters published between 1819–31.20 Carus outlined an approach and training to the practice of earth-life painting, starting with developing an artist' eye, the necessary draughtsmanship, knowledge of the forms and structure of mountains with its flora, fauna and atmospheric phenomena, as well as the effect and mechanism of light and colours.21 Apart from Carus, Humboldt, who had gained recognition since the 1820s, is a proponent of an integrative approach to nature and emphasised visualisation of landscapes as a complimentary discourse alongside his scientific analysis. Bernard Debarbieux remarks on the combination of Humboldt's visualisations with his textual research analysis: "As has been shown by various scholars (such as Godleweska, 1999; Briffaud, 2006; Farinelli, 1999; Mitchell, 1994), this concept is probably the most integrative in Humboldt's prose, where depictions of landscapes allowed him to arti-culate, through a visual experience, the wide range of phenomena he wished to interrelate, including human sensibility and imagination."22

The visibility of landscapes as representations that frame and depict spaces, or as human practices that physically alter the environment, mean that landscapes can be read as rich sources for understanding relations. Karen E. Till describes an approach of considering landscapes as imagining and representing the nation, or the "Landscapes of State Power".23 She also considers the works of earlier scholars such as Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels that expand upon the development of "landscape as a way of seeing" and the growing prominence of linear perspective both as a device of organising visual representations of spaces and as an epistemic manoeuvre that contributed to the legitimisation of the then emerging ideology of [End Page 386] capitalism and "constituted the landscape as feminized object of desire to be conquered and possessed".24

Mountains provided natural resources available for extraction, while the fertile volcanic soil also lent itself to agriculture. Colonial Java was a huge source of income for the VOC and accordingly, agriculture, mineral resources, flora and fauna became important subjects in Junghuhn's accounts and drawings; but Java Album was also rife with moments of alternative cosmologies and possibilities of alterity—of mountains becoming cultural entities or transcending into the realm of the sublime—although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much of this is intentional.

Junghuhn's pursuit of botany and geology was by large complicit in the Dutch colonial administration's exploitative ideology towards Java. Andrew Goss writes about how 18th- and 19th-century explorers like Junghuhn who worked within state-sponsored science navigated complex political bureaucracy and fierce competition to secure their scientific authority.25 However, outside the profit-driven state enterprise, Junghuhn managed to publish autonomously the controversial polemic Licht en Schaduwbeelden uit de Binnenlanden van Java [Images of Light and Shadow from Java's Interior].26 In it he advocated socialism in the colonies whilst criticizing Christian and Islamic proselytization of the Javanese people. He advocated the existing form of pandeism, the Kejawèn, but in line with this, he also contended that God was in everything but could only be determined through reason. Since the 17th century, Islam had been rallied in Java as an ideology towards revolutionary nationalism and against the growing foreign control of the Calvinistic Dutch.27 This further complicates the interpretation of Junghuhn's motivation and suggests the possibility of his sympathy towards certain strands of syncretic culture and way of life, while holding a largely ambivalent attitude towards monotheistic and reform-minded religiosities.

Nevertheless, mountains and volcanoes continue to hold significant sym-bolism in Java even till today; each environment also constitutes its own cultural milieu. The symbol of the cosmic mountain or Gunungan is represented in community rituals such as Slametan and Wayang performances;28 the Kejawèn ascetic seeks the mountain for insight and recluse, and in times of turmoil, traditional beliefs also look to the mountain for the "ratu adil", a just king "who will save and rebuild the kingdom".29 Junghuhn displays interest in local folk customs in his writing in Java, for instance describing local deities associated with landforms, such as the Queen of the South Seas Nyi Roro Kidul (Ratu Loro Kidul) and ritualistic offerings made for her by the birds' nests-picking community in Rongkop.30 He also depicts the south [End Page 387]

Figure 1. Drawing of the south coast of Rongkop. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).
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Figure 1.

Drawing of the south coast of Rongkop. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).

coast of Rongkop in Java Album (Figure 1), showing the perilous activity of picking birds' nests on the cliffs facing the tumultuous South Seas. Junghuhn also shows awareness of the symbolic importance of the holy mountains. He writes about Gunung Semeru, also referred to by locals as Mahameru, and its significance as a cosmological symbol inherited from Hinduism,31 noting as well ritualistic offerings made to burial mounds of ancestors and ascetics who had gone into recluse on mountain tops.32

Despite the cultural significance of mountains in Javanese society, exploitation of natural resources occurred continuously and was not carried out solely by European colonial enterprises. Peter Boomgaard notes that Java has a longer history of forest and nature exploitation that can be traced to its significant state formation and economic diversification since the 1500s.33 In Java Album, Junghuhn depicts a mountain range subjected to continuous geomorphic transformation from mining activities, Gunung Gamping (translated as "lime mountain"). His depiction of Gunung Gamping (Figure 2) documented the vastness, appearance and vegetation of the mountain range which, unfortunately, has mostly disappeared today, due to the numerous [End Page 388]

Figure 2. Drawing of Gunung Gamping. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).
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Figure 2.

Drawing of Gunung Gamping. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).

stakeholders who were keen to exploit the practical uses and the profitability of limestone.

Junghuhn's Gunung Gamping lithography print shows an undulating range of limestone cliffs at a distance, visibly unobstructed as it stands on a flat plain. A stream divides the mountain range from the foreground, where two men can be seen on top a grass mound. Junghuhn eloquently describes the scene in his writing:

A picturesque contrast is formed by the blinding white colour of the limestone cliffs with the blue of the clear sky, with the lovely green of the lianas that hang down from the walls, and with the so luxuriantly growing bushes that rise up on the truncated, levelled skull of cliffs.34

He also notes in great detail the effects of natural destructive forces on the distinctive form of the limestone cliffs, such as earthquakes or floods, and especially the slower process of change caused by plants such as shrubs and lianas that entwined the cliffs, gradually eroding the limestone deposits.35

In his depiction of the mountain range, as well as in his written description, Junghuhn did not indicate any previous mining activities on site. [End Page 389] However, by this time Gunung Gamping would have been a productive site for limestone extraction for a variety of purposes such as building material or astringent. The process of limestone extraction in Gunung Gamping accelerated from the 18th century onwards and a local ritualistic festival, Saparan Bekakak,36 which is still carried out today, points to massive extraction for the construction of the Keraton of Yogyakarta. Power struggle within the Mataram Sultanate, which was further exploited by the Dutch VOC, resulted in the Treaty of Giyanti in 13 February 1755 and the splitting of Mataram Sultanate into the Surakarta Sultanate and the Yogyakarta Sultanate. The construction of the Yogyakarta Keraton began soon after in 1755, requiring large amounts of building material. The extraction of limestone, often carried out by residents of Gamping, was risky work that claimed many lives in the past. Limestone deposit is prone to erosion and can cause massive landslides. One such landslide claimed the lives of Kyai Wirasuta, an Abdi Dalem,37 and his wife in Kampung Ambarketawang.38 Following their deaths, the frequency of disastrous erosions in Ambarketawang increased, purportedly during the month of Sapar (or Safar) according to the Muslim calendar. To appease the spirits of those who guard the mountain, a pair of substitute bride and groom made from glutinous flour and sugar were offered in a ritualistic procession, alongside folk dances and singing. Like other village festivals, especially village rituals carried out in the inauspicious month of Sapar, the event also functions as a communal ritual that strengthens the bond in the community in the face of threats of disaster and the precariousness of life. The status quo of life and work in Ambarketawang could be resumed after the trauma.

Environmental anthropologist Michael Dove notes the development of a "culture of hazards" in places where natural disasters occur relatively frequently. Drawing his analysis mainly from his field study in Gunung Merapi in 1985, he notes that residents incorporate hazards into everyday life and domesticate them through routines, customs and rituals, or narratives.39 A "culture of hazards" is not unique to Mount Merapi; historically Java has a relatively high frequency of natural disasters due to active volcanic activities and erosion from deforestation, mining and the growth of farming. Residents near mountains with a significant frequency of natural disaster similarly develop rituals and narratives, such as in the case of Gunung Gamping and the ritual of Saparan Bekakak.

Gunung Gamping itself was reduced to a single molehill by 1956 from lime rock extractions carried out by the Yogyakarta Sultanate, the VOC, the Dutch colonial administration, the Japanese Occupation during World War II and subsequently the Republic of Indonesia government (Figure 3). With the [End Page 390]

Figure 3. Remains of Gunung Gamping in 1956. Soedomo, Bandjaransi and Tjeng Tik Kie, Buku Kenang-Kenangan: Peringatan 200 Tahun Kota Jogjakarta 1756–1956, Yogyakarta: Gunung Agung, 1956, p. 8.
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Figure 3.

Remains of Gunung Gamping in 1956. Soedomo, Bandjaransi and Tjeng Tik Kie, Buku Kenang-Kenangan: Peringatan 200 Tahun Kota Jogjakarta 1756–1956, Yogyakarta: Gunung Agung, 1956, p. 8.

disappearance of the bulk of the mountain, Junghuhn's depiction of Gunung Gamping becomes an important visual archive.

Alternative modes of gaze and experience in Java Album

Colonial depictions of landscape in Java and the Indies often omit or soften conflicts, struggles and exploitation to be in line with colonial expansion.40 The drawings in Java Album are harmoniously composed picturesque views, with sparing inclusions of human figures to adorn the landscape. Figures in Java Album are represented in a manner that is consistent and easily generalised at a glance, indicating fundamental differences in appearances and actions between Europeans and Javanese: Junghuhn and his fellow Europeans wear coats, shirts, pants and a top hat; they are seldom portrayed resting or idling, and are always seen to be engaging in a focused activity. On the other hand, native Javanese men such as the two figures in the Gunung Gamping plate are depicted as fit, tan and often topless, sometimes wearing a turban or a conical farmer's hat. The figures depicted are almost exclusively male, with only the north coast of Semarang plate depicting one [End Page 391]

Figure 4. Drawing of Gunung Guntur. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).
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Figure 4.

Drawing of Gunung Guntur. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).

topless woman standing and interacting with presumably her male kins and two young naked children. Both the woman and the children have their backs turned to the viewer, a prudish gesture that also, ironically, alludes to the voyeuristic gaze of the artist.

Junghuhn depicted another volcano that was particularly active during the late 19th century, Gunung Guntur (Figure 4). In his drawing, Junghuhn interestingly included figures in the midst of a ritual. The native figures in the Gunung Guntur plate are the exception: here Junghuhn took care to represent their spiritual lives. In this composition, two figures are seated, one prostrating as if in prayer, a keris or ritualistic blade seen on his waist. The other seated figure seems to be in the midst of writing or recording something. An enigmatic standing figure, with a sarung and turban, who appears like a dukun (shaman) or a Juru Kunci Gunung (caretaker or keymaster of the mountain, an official title especially bestowed by royal patronage) points to the opening of the crater, an intermediary to an alternative realm and a symbolic topography of power. Anthropologist Andrew Beatty proposes the symbolism of volcanoes in Java as decentralised topographies of power, especially after the collapse of the Blambangan kingdom as a result of Dutch [End Page 392] conquest in the 1760s. These are spaces away from the centre or formal authority. He writes:

Since there was no exemplary centre, power was – and is – dispersed among sacred locations (angker) – mountain tops and craters, ruins and caves – and among semi-historical figures (wong sakti) and their shrines mythically connected to the old order. Access is controlled by dukun, caretakers and mystics able to tap the circuits and manipulate the relics for contemporary meanings.41

This concept of power in Java is provisional and needs to be performed by the figure of the mystic. It is naturally also subject to challenges and remapping.

The Javanese term angker as a concept pertains to both gaze and experience in a landscape, encompassing both dynamics and producing narratives that regulate access and characterise space, and in turn, its representation. Angker generally indicates spaces or objects that must be respected or avoided because they are sacred, haunted or embody a spiritual entity. A range of conditions qualify spaces as being angker, for instance, if it contains antique objects or ancestral tombs, has associations with death, or is perceived as essentially having its own "guardian" (penjaga). Environmental historian Peter Boomgaard notes the conservational effect on places that have been conferred the status of angker, for fear of desecrating these areas through clearing or extraction activities. He notes that:

… as people tended to avoid these areas, their vegetation recovered from former clearing activities and they became refuges of wild animals of all descriptions, which then reinforced the inclination to leave these now reafforested areas alone.42

Boomgaard also notes that up till the late 20th century, the Dutch VOC led in the destruction of many angker forests, for example, the felling of a sacred teak forest in the Residency of Jepara as early as 1675.43 Mountains such as Gunung Gamping acquire its angker status due to the occurrences (especially if repetitive) of deaths and disasters, thus creating a direct link with the unpredictable power of nature.

In Java Album, the plate showing Gunung Sumbing (Figure 5) depicts an overt instance of remapping the topographies of power. The drawing is divided into three distinct horizontal lines: In the foreground, where Junghuhn overlooked the mountain, is the garden of the Resident of Kedu Christiaan Lodewijk Hartmann's house in Magelang,44 depicted with antique [End Page 393]

Figure 5. Drawing of Gunung Sumbing. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).
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Figure 5.

Drawing of Gunung Sumbing. Frans Junghuhn, Java Album, in Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur (Leipzig: Amsterdam, 1854).

Figure 6. A photograph from the garden at the Resident's house in Magelang overlooking Gunung Sumbing, taken during a visit by Governor General B.C. de Jonge. O. Hisgen & Co., Fotografisch Atelier (Photo Studio). 1935. Inventory number: TM-60037460: Tropenmuseum.
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Figure 6.

A photograph from the garden at the Resident's house in Magelang overlooking Gunung Sumbing, taken during a visit by Governor General B.C. de Jonge. O. Hisgen & Co., Fotografisch Atelier (Photo Studio). 1935. Inventory number: TM-60037460: Tropenmuseum.

[End Page 394] statues taken from the Candis in the Kedu Residency, which then included Magelang and Gunung Sumbing. In the drawing the displaced statues have become follies in Hartmann's personal garden. The view of the garden is cut off by the horizon line which in reality descends quite steeply into the valley depicted in the middle ground. The valley is a fertile land for agriculture, by this time already divided into plots and steps, as well as plantations. The river Progo that provides irrigation and occasional flooding twists into a tributary on the right and a stream from the centre cuts across diagonally, at times twisting and turning towards the next horizon line. In the background, the gently sloping peak of Gunung Sumbing stands high overlooking all. Gunung Sumbing itself is located at the interstice of three regencies in the Kedu residency, namely Magelang, Temanggung and Wonosobo. In comparison with Junghuhn's drawing, Figure 6 shows a photograph taken from the Resident's house in 1935, showing the mountain face depicted by Junghuhn. The arrangement of the statues is more sparsely dispersed compared to Junghuhn's drawing, and it is likely that he took the artistic licence to rearrange these statues in the drawing for the purpose of illustrating the varieties of statues collected by Hartmann.

An interest in Hindu-Buddhist ruins intensified during the British Interregnum in Java between 1811–15, which saw a surge of archaeological surveys under the administration of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. During Raffles' reign as lieutenant governor of Java, a large number of monumental temple ruins or Candis were "discovered", excavated and systematically recorded. This endeavour was furthered by the Dutch after Java was returned to the control of the Netherlands in 1815. Modelled as a manifestation of the Mahameru (the holy mountain and the abode of gods) and often constructed out of volcanic rocks found locally, Candis relate to mountains both symbolically and geographically. On the other hand, colonial interests in Candis as vestiges and symbols of an earlier Hindu-Buddhist empire often become incorporated into a narrative of a declined empire and cultural milieu due to the loss to Islam of Hinduism and Buddhism as dominant religions. Raffles' History of Java, originally published in 1817, described the history and culture of Java, including the ruins of Candis, which were interpreted as indicators of an early flourishing of culture and commercial exchange in Java, followed by a period of despotism and decline.45 Junghuhn echoes this admiration of an earlier classical civilisation and its inevitable disintegration in his description of the Candi in Kedu:

These temples have become ruins, fig trees have taken root on their pews, and they split apart the hewn stones, from which they are made; the historically deemed sacred statues of Doerga, Vishnu and [End Page 395] Siwah now lie shattered, scattered here and there on the soil of the land, and have become objects of contempt; but the truth, which formed the basis of that religion, has founded the most sublime temple here in the midst of these fire mountains, in these fruit-tree groves, and depicts itself in a lively manner before the eyes of the spectators.46

Junghuhn's assertion that the Candi and statues within "have become objects of contempt", abandoned or neglected, is repeated throughout his writing in Java. He observed nonetheless continued offerings made for the Durga statue in the Roro Djongrang Candi complex.47 In Junghuhn's writing, like many other 19th-century European accounts such as that of Raffles, Crawfurd and Engelhard,48 the narrative of neglect and abandonment often overrides local folk concepts of sacredness attributed to these monuments, which had shifted from an earlier Hindu-Buddhist dominant period to an undercurrent of Kejawèn spirituality that exists within 19th-century Islamised Java (and still exists today). Interpreted as passive objects waiting to be retrieved, the statues are displaced into Hartmann's personal garden, adorning the landscape like follies.


This paper has attempted to analyse the landscape drawings in Java Album as ways of seeing and experiencing, giving attention to the articulation of the drawings as well as its context of production. Junghuhn's expeditions and publications, funded by the Dutch government and its imperial-capitalists interests, led the way for further geological surveys with greater accuracy. Increased mining resulted in rapid geomorphic transformations around Java's mountains, with Gunung Gamping as one of the most visible documentation of a diminished landform. The Dutch colonial enterprise was not the only stakeholder that viewed landscape as extractive natural resources. The extraction of Gunung Gamping for the construction of the Yogyakarta Keraton and the ritual of Saparan Bekakak is an instance of a local and large-scale mining programme that resulted in significant trauma. To imagine the spaces of Junghuhn's Java Album as an often-retold story of the colonial explorer journeying to discover an empty landscape, is to miss the details that complicate this meta-narrative. Mountains in Java are sites of meeting-up49 between "politics of the state"50 and "politics of the sacred",51 both being modes of looking, being and relating that continue to shape and be shaped by the landscape. [End Page 396]

The idea of angker as a form of politics of the sacred is still potent enough in Indonesia to perpetuate narratives that encourage restricting access, although this tends to be dismissed as populist superstition. Of interest to this paper is how angker brings into cohesion several seemingly disparate modes of gaze and experience that are perhaps more intuitive in Java: a heterodox sacredness intertwined with supernatural possession, a manifestation of trauma and a "culture of hazards", as well as a decentralised topography of power, both official and appropriated. I contend that hints of these alternative modes of gaze and experience are present within the plates of Java Album—sometimes overt, other times subtle or perhaps even unintentionally there, existing side by side with the dominant narratives of exploration, discovery and conquest.


Hera is a multidisciplinary practitioner in the expanded field of art and design. She graduated from MA Narrative Environments, Central Saint Martins and MA (Research), School of Art, Design and Media, Spaces of the Curatorial, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she received the NTU-NHB grant from the National Heritage Board Singapore for her research on the history of art exhibitions in Singapore. Currently, she works as a design researcher in Humankind Design, where she engages with cultural theory and design studies in a bid to encourage positive change within the design ecosystem.


The Southeast of Now Emerging Writers' Fellowship has enabled this research in many ways. I would like to thank the editorial collective and the donors for their generosity and support. It has been a privilege to discuss and think through the ideas within this paper with my mentors Adam Bobbette and Susie Protschky. I am grateful for their advice, patience and encouragement. I also thank Johanna Straatman for her translation work which has been invaluable to the development of this paper.


1. German-born and Dutch-naturalised, Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn's name is written as Frans Junghuhn in Dutch versions of his publication, while German versions of his publication retain the spelling of is name as Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn.

4. The full title of the album is De Indische Archipel, tafereelen uit de natuur en het volksleven in Indie [The Indian Archipelago, scenes from nature and folk life in the Indies]. C.W. Mieling, S. van Deventer and C. Deeleman, De Indische Archipel, Tafereelen Uit De Natuur En Het Volksleven in Indië (Hague: J.M. van't Haaff, 1865).

6. For consistency, mountain or "Gunung" is written with a "u", following reforms in the spelling of Indonesian words in the 1970s. Prior to this, "Gunung" was written as "Gunong" or "Goenoeng". Similarly, in the rest of the paper, "oe" is written as "u", such as in "Guntur", "Sumbing" and "Kadu".

7. Junghuhn writes the following: "Deze twaalf landlschapgezigten zijn door mij, op de plaats zelve, naar de natuur geleekend en gekleurd [These twelve landscape scenes were drawn and coloured by me, true to nature, at the place itself]." Frans Junghuhn, Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur, vol. 1 (Amsterdam: P.N. Van Kampen, 1854), p. 668.

11. See Peter Boomgaard, "The Making and Unmaking of Tropical Science: Dutch Research on Indonesia, 1600–2000", Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 162, 2/3 (2006); Andrew Goss, "The Floracrats: Civil Science, Bureaucracy, and Institutional Authority in the Netherlands East Indies and Indonesia, 1840–1970", ed. Rudolf Mrazek (ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2004).

21. Ibid., p. 30.

24. Ibid., p. 349.

26. Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn, Licht- En Schaduwbeelden Uit De Binnenlanden Van Java (F. Günst, 1867).

27. Justus M. van der Kroef, "The Role of Islam in Indonesian Nationalism and Politics", The Western Political Quarterly 11, 1 (1958): 38.

31. Ibid., p. 176.

32. Ibid., pp. 570–1.

34. From ibid., p. 334, translated by Johanna Straatman, original text: "Een schilderachtig kontrast vormt de verblindend witte kleur der kalkrotsen met het blaauw van den helderen hemel, met het liefelijke groen der lianen, die van de wanden afwaarts hangen en met de zoo weelderig groeijende boschjes, die zich verheffen op den afgeknotten, vlakken schedel der rotsen…"

35. Ibid.

37. Abdi Dalem, broadly speaking, refers to someone who dedicates his whole life to the Keraton, a servant of the court whose tasks range from administrative work to catering to the day-to-day needs of the Sultan and the Keraton compound.

38. A kampung is a residential community or a village. After urbanisation, the term also refers to slums, implying informal or unplanned living clusters.

43. Ibid., p. 264.

44. Hartmann was also involved in the excavation of Candi Borobudur between the 1830s and the 1840s. He was primarily responsible for the discovery of Candi Selogriyo.

46. From Junghuhn, Java, Deszelfs Gedaante, Bekleding En Inwendige Structuur, 1, p. 421, translated by Johanna Straatman. Original text: "Deze tempels zijn tot puinhoopen geworden, vijgenboomen hebben wortel geschoten op hunne tinnen en doen de gehouwen steenen, waaruit zij zijn vervaardigd, vaneensplijten; de vroeger heilig geachte standbeelden van Doerga, van Visnoe en Siwah liggen thans verbrijzeld hier en daar verstrooid op den bodem des lands en zijn tot een voorwerp van verachting geworden; maar de waarheid, welke den grondslag dier godsdienst uitmaakte, heeft zich hier te midden dezer vuurbergen, in deze vruchtboomboschjes zelven den verhevensten tempel gesticht en maalt zich voor de blikken des beschouwers in levendige trekken af."

47. Ibid., p. 652.

48. Sarah Tiffin studies the accounts of Raffles, Crawfurd and Engelhard that assert neglect or lack of appreciation by local villagers towards the Candis, while ironically describing how offerings were still being made to the deified figures within the Candis. She notes that the local villagers' mode of veneration was incomprehensible as "Javanese observances did not conform to British codes of aesthetic criticism that demonstrated a discerning understanding of the artistry and architectural merits of the monuments and the concomitant connotations of cultural and socio-political sophistication, the ways in which the Javanese paid their respects to the candis were not recognised or paid much credence." Tiffin, "Raffles and the Barometer of Civilisation: Images and Descriptions of Ruined Candis in 'the History of Java'", p. 359.

49. Doreen Massey suggests the postcolonial concern of decentring Europe and thus the re-narrativisation or spatialising/globalising of the story of modernity as a meeting-up of spaces. She writes, referring to the arrival of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés to the Aztec Empire: "Not only should the European trajectory be 'decentred' it could also be recognised as merely one…of the histories being made at that time. It is the meeting-up of Montezuma and Cortés. It implies (it could imply) a different view of space itself. It is a move away from imagination of space as a continuous surface that the coloniser, as the only active agent, crosses to find the to-be-colonised simply 'there'." Doreen Massey, For Space (London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2005), p. 63.


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