The Sufi poet and the peculiar whale (part one)

In this article, the first in a two-part series, PoP's textual historian Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan gives an introduction and translation of a 16th-century Sufi poem by Hamzah, one of the greatest poets in the Malay language. The second article in the series will offer an in-depth commentary on the poem's symbols and references. Sufi Poetry … Continue reading The Sufi poet and the peculiar whale (part one)

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UNESCO heritage-lists Indonesian wooden boat building

PoP first came across Jeffrey Mellefont, an Honorary Research Associate at the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM), when we read one of his lyrical articles in Signals about viewing a total solar eclipse while sailing in the Moluccas ("All I can say is, how extraordinary to live in a solar system where  our one and only … Continue reading UNESCO heritage-lists Indonesian wooden boat building

The race to save up to 50 shipwrecks from looters in Southeast Asia

Recent research presented at a maritime archaeology conference has revealed at least 48 shipwrecks - including WWII ships and some post-war vessels - have been illicitly salvaged in Southeast Asia. This figure is an astonishing escalation from the handful of wrecks already known to have been damaged or destroyed. Japan has lost the most wrecks. Other nations affected include Australia, … Continue reading The race to save up to 50 shipwrecks from looters in Southeast Asia

The padewakang: Puzzling together the past

Putting together a 400-piece, 3D puzzle is hard enough without the pieces warping and shrinking. But that was exactly the problem faced by maritime historian Horst Liebner and his team of expert Makassan boat-builders in Belgium last month when (re-)assembling a life-sized, traditional Indonesian sailing ship known as a padewakang. The timbers had fitted perfectly when … Continue reading The padewakang: Puzzling together the past

Salt

PoP's ocean-obsessed Natali Pearson writes about the third in a dance trilogy by acclaimed Indonesian choreographer, Eko Supriyanto, now on show in Belgium. Since its establishment in Brussels in 1969, the Europalia Art Biennial (10 October 2017-21 January 2018) has always featured a guest country, and this time it’s Indonesia’s turn. Europalia pitches itself as an … Continue reading Salt

Mount Agung’s 18th-Century Eruption

PoP's textual historian Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan examines Balinese accounts of an eruption of Mount Agung that occurred 300 years ago, in order to contextualise its current activity. Where technical geological terms appear in the article, they are underlined and you can hover over them to get a quick definition from G.J. Hudak's Glossary of Volcanic Terms (2001). Bali’s largest … Continue reading Mount Agung’s 18th-Century Eruption

The power of cloth: Melinda Piesse’s Batavia Tapestry

Earlier this year, PoP’s Museum and Heritage Studies scholar Natali Pearson wrote about her visit to the remote Houtman Abrolhos Islands – site of the Batavia’s wrecking on its maiden voyage to the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) in 1629. The story of the Batavia – characterised by a midnight shipwrecking, months of murder and mayhem … Continue reading The power of cloth: Melinda Piesse’s Batavia Tapestry

Performing Heritage (or, Making Temples Great Again)

Natali Pearson, our Museum and Heritage Studies researcher, takes a look at the Obama family's recent visit to the 9th century temples of Borobudur and Prambanan in Indonesia, and muses on the mythologising of these monuments both past and present. Last week, former US President Barack Obama and his family visited Indonesia, where they followed … Continue reading Performing Heritage (or, Making Temples Great Again)

Setting the Record Crooked: Conspiracy History in Indonesia

PoP’s textual historian Wayan Jarrah Sastrawan studies the pseudo-history of the Majapahit kingdom, and what it can tell us about history-making in Indonesia today. Indonesians love a good conspiracy. Just check out the sales table on any mainstream bookstore like Gramedia, or the display racks of used-book street stalls, and you'll find hidden truths and uncovered secrets … Continue reading Setting the Record Crooked: Conspiracy History in Indonesia