The Java War broke 190 years ago, in 1825, when the Dutch attacked the residence of Prince Dipanagara (or Diepo Negoro, or Diponegoro). It lasted for five years, as Prince Dipanagara, the leader, was finally captured by the Dutch in 28 March 1830. National Geographic Indonesia had assigned me to follow the prince’s footsteps and the report was published last year. This month, Galeri Nasional Indonesia is holding a exhibition to commemorate Prince Dipanagara as Indonesia’s national hero of independence.
His story was not so black-and-white, though. Dipanagara is a national hero because he fought against the Dutch colonialism. But he was once considered a rebel by the Keraton of Yogyakarta. As a retaliation after his residence was burnt down by the Dutch, he attacked the Keraton and the Pakualaman—and during the war, he proclaimed himself as the sultan of Java, thus considered denying the rule of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, his younger half-brother. But the politics inside the Keraton as well as between the Keraton and the Dutch was not so black-and-white either.
During the month-long exhibition, I will be sharing my experience in retracing the life and times of Prince Dipanagara for National Geographic Indonesia. Please come and join us if you are around. ∎