Memayu Kabuyutan Trusmi Cirebon (replacement of welit)

Kramat Mbah Buyut Trusmi is located in Trusmi village in Weru sub district, about 7 km west of Cirebon. This holy site called kramat is the second most important site in Cirebon after astana Gunung Jati. Unlike astana Gunung Jati, which is under the direct control of the kraton kasepuhan, Trusmi is now independent, although formerly it also belonged to the kraton kasepuhan. When this short of independence commenced is unclear and when this question asked to the custodians, they tend to avoid answering it.

The revered figure of this kramat is known as Ki Buyut Trusmi from which the kramat’s name is derived. Kramat means holy site and Buyut means great grand-father, but the term Ki Buyut refers to the ancestor, the founder of the desa (village) where the kramat is located. Who is really meant by Ki Buyut Trusmi is still unclear. According to the local legend and folklore, the name “Trusmi” is derived from ‘trus’ (instantly) and ‘semi’ (spring). Thus ‘trus semi’ means ‘to spring up instantly’. The Kramat Trusmi consists of two sections, one section is separated from the other by a space which functions as a pathway from the west entrance of the kramat to the east entrance. The first section is in the south, comprising the mosque and its annex, whereas the other section is to the north being the tombs section where the legendary founder figures, Ki Gede Trusmi and Pangeran Trusmi , are entombed. Both sections are surrounded by a wall two meters high made up of a bare stack of red bricks. The oldest building in the complex is called witana. Witana stands for ‘wiwit’ and ‘ana’ meaning the first that existed. It lies next to the pekulahan, a pond for bathing. Next to witana lies the mosque, one main part of the kramat which although it has undergone extensive renovation still maintains its greatness architecture by the preserved structure of the building. This include the style of its wooden roof (sirap), pillars (soko guru), and the peak (memolo).

Based on the story from the custodian, the physical structure of the kramat and the traditions within it convey symbolic messages which lay on recounting the meaning of Islam as a religion of peace (rukun/damai) and the anthropomorphic measurement. The total length of the surrounding wall is 60 depa. The number 60 is alludes to the number of the prophets known by the most Muslims. The use of anthropomorphic measurement of depa , which is stretching the two hands apart making a straight line of approximately between 1.65 and 1.80 meter long, as a way of measuring a unit of length is to reflect that each prophet led mankind onto the straight path (sirat al-mustaqim).

Kramat Trusmi has three main festival: muludan (commemoration of the birth of the Propeht Muhammad), memayu (replacement of welit or palm-thatch roofs) used on pewadonan, pekuncen, and two jinem building, and ganti sirap (replacement of sirap ow wooden roofs) used on witana, the mosque, penyekarab, pesujudan, and paseban. Memayu is held once a year and ganti sirap once every four years, each is held at the beginning of the rainy season. The exact date is determined by the assembly of the village official and kramat custodians specially held for that purpose. All material and labour needed at both memayu and ganti sirap are provided entirely by the people. The offer of the materials as well as the application for essential voluntary work such as by carpenters and mason comes eventually after the custodian issues an announcement about the matter.


1. Ziarah dan Wali di Dunia Islam (Le Culte des Saints dans le Monde Musulman), ed. Henry Chambert-Loir & Claude Guliot, PT. Serambi Ilmu Semesta & Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient, 1995

2. The Islamic Traditions of Cirebon: Ibadat and Adat Among Javanese Muslims, A. G. Muhaimin, The Australian National University Press, 2006

the Custodian

pekuncen palm-thatch roofs building

the Green Custodians

the White Custodians

the Yellow Custodians

welit (palm-thatch roofs)

the triangle roof construction being refurnished

attaching the refurnished welit roof

ngiket welit, tying the welit into the roof construction

Trusmi Axonometric view and Site plan

Welit tying system

Welit tying system

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Cities: Trowulan, Capital City of the Majapahit Kingdom

Trowulan is a village in Mojokerto, East Java, Indonesia. It is surrounded by an archaeological site covering approximately 100 square kilometers. Trowulan has been suggested the site of the eponymous capital city of the Majapahit Empire, which is described in the 14th-century poem, Nagarakartagama.

Archaeological surveys and excavations from early 19th century until recently have found the remains of industrial, commercial and religious activity, habitation areas and water supply systems, all of which are evidence of dense population during the 14th to 15th centuries. The ancient capital city of Majapahit Empire ruin had been discovered on the early 19th century by the British colonial and later reported to governor in charge of Java, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.  Raffles, an indefatigable enthusiast of Javanese history, was so impressed by what he saw that he later on said Trowulan as ‘ the pride of Java’.

(candi tikus, 2009)

(candi tikus, 1900s)

The Majapahit Empire has relationships with South East Asian Empire such as Champa Cambodia (Khmer Empire), Siam (Ayutthaya Kingdom), southern Burma, and Vietnam, and even sent missions to China. Because of that Trowulan as a capital city of Majapahit supposedly also influence by several South East Asian Culture.

(Bajang ratu, a paduraksa style gate, 2009)

(Wringin Lawang, before renovation, 1900s)

The city of Majapahit is one of the examples of a classical city settlement in Indonesia and shared tangible heritage that serves as a comparison for studying other ancient cities in South East Asia in terms of spatial planning and environmental management and other aspects.

In October 2009 Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia submitted Trowulan as UNESCO World Heritage list.

(candi brahu, 1900s)

(settlement area ruins, 2009)

[some texts are taken from wikipedia]

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Religious Architecture: Toyohashi Haristos Russian Orthodox Church, Aichi prefecture, Japan

Russian Orthodox Church buildings differ in design from many modern-type churches. Firstly, their interiors are enriched with many sacramental objects including holy icons, which are hung on the walls. In addition, murals often cover most of the interior. Some of these images represent the Theotokos (who is particularly revered in the Russian Orthodox Church), saints, and scenes from their lives.

One of the earliest modern Orthodox Church in Japan was built in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture in 1913. It was built using the original Russian Orthodox Church shape but with Japanese timber construction (mokuzo-kenchiku) and rules called Shaku (feet). This Church was a perfect example of shared design between two cultures (Russo-Japanese).

(side view of the church)

(detailed wooden structure)

St. Nicholas of Japan (baptized as Ivan Dmitrievich Kasatkin) brought Eastern Orthodoxy to Japan in the 19th century. In 1861 he was sent by the Russian Orthodox Church to Hakodate, Hokkaidō as a priest to a chapel of the Russian Consulate. Though the contemporary Shogun’s government prohibited the Japanese conversion to Christianity, soon some neighbors who frequently visited the chapel converted in 1864[3]—Nikolai’s first three converts in Japan. While they were his first converts in Japan, they were not the first Japanese to do so—some Japanese who had settled in Russia had converted to Orthodoxy.

(wooden structure model of the church)

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Cities: Parakan, Central Java, Indonesia

Parakan is a small district located on the slope of Mount Sindoro-Sumbing, Temanggung County, central Java, Indonesia. Based on urban legend, Parakan was a sima land or granted land from ancient Mataram at 8th to 10th A.D., but granted to who was never explained. Since Hindu-Buddhist Mataram era, Parakan had an important role because of its location (near mountain and river). Several Candi (temple) and inscriptions can be founds around Parakan area, notably candi Pringapus and Rukam inscription (967 A.D.).  (Degroot, Veronique. Candi, Space and Landscape: A study on the distribution, orientation and spatial organization of Central Javanese temple remains, Sidestone Press, Leiden, 2009) and (Chihara, Daigoro. Hindu-Buddhist Architecture in Southeast Asia, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1996)

(Chihara, Daigoro. plates 37)
Parakan has a small Chinese community that still exists today. Based on stories, most of Chinese people in Parakan were working in trading business of plantation crops in the colonial period, mostly tea and tobacco. The Parakan’s tea was once awarded a gold medal for its quality from Colonial Exposition Universelle of 1889, Paris (Bloembergen, Marieke. Colonial Spectacles: the Netherlands and Dutch East Indies at the World Exhibitions, 1880-1931, Singapore University Press, 2006. p.131)

(yellow Area: Chinese Quarter)
The Chinese style houses with big courtyard and beautiful details can easily be found here. Some still well maintained by the descendants of the merchants and many were already neglected and broken down.

(Chinese courtyard)

(roof structure)

(small courtyard)

(ancestral hall with ping feng divider)

(chinese temple)

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Religious Architecture: Gala Mosque, Tembayat, Central Java (Indonesia)

Gala mosque is among the oldest mosque in Java that survives through time. The mosque is located on the top of Bayat hill, Klaten, Central Java, Indonesia. First erected during the reign of Ki Ageng Pandanaran II, the Semarang’s chief of Demak kingdom, between 1496 to 1512 CE.

Gala mosque had been renovated for a couple of times. The most recent was in 2007 after a major earthquake strikes Central Java and devastated many of heritage buildings on May 2006.

(the cracking mihrab caused by the earthquake)

This unique mosque is one of the examples of Indo-Javanese culture style. Many of the earliest mosques built in Java have a local appearances mixed with Islamic and Hindu-Buddhist style of architecture. The “top of the hill building” is one characteristic of the Hindu-Buddhist religious buildings in Java, while the tick wall was influenced from Gujarati architecture and the “tajug” wooden-tile roof structure was from Javanese traditional architecture.

Since 1990s, Tembayat’s Gala Mosque was set as the Objects of Cultural Property (Tangible Heritage) by the Indonesian Institute for Preservation of Archaeological Heritage (BP3) based on Law No. 5 year 1992.

(side view)

(side view)

(the pilgrim path stair heading to the mausoleum and mosque)

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Religious Architecture : St. Anthony Catholic Church in Muntilan (Indonesia).

Franciscus Georgius Josephus van Lith SJ or oftentimes shortened as Frans van Lith ( 17 May 1863–9 January 1926) is a leader of Jesuit from Oirschot, Nederland.  He places the base of Roman Catholic in Java, especially Central Java. He was recognizing as the first pastor who baptizes the first Javanese Catholic in Sendangsono (Central Java), founded school and builds a Catholic church in Muntilan between 1900 until 1906 (known as St. Anthony Catholic Church).

(Frans van Lith and a novice in front of Muntilan’s St. Anthony Church, 1920s photo)

Muntilan’s St. Anthony Church was among the first Catholic Church founded in Central Java. The other two St. Anthony Churches was built in Yogyakarta and Purbayan between 1900 until 1920s. The architect of these Churches was never mentioned, it was likely designed by the Dutch military architect.

(Muntilan’s St. Anthony Church plan)

(front elevation)

(front view)

The style of this Church is European art deco with Javanese tropical taste which later called the Indisch style. Indisch style can be described as a mixture of European style, Javanese, Malayan and a bit of Chinese (Milone, Pauline D. (1966/67), Indische Culture and Its Relationship to Urban Life, Comparative Sutidies in Society & History, vol. 9 Jul-Oct. p. 407-426).

(side elevation)

(side view)

Since 2008, Muntilan’s St. Anthony Chatolic Church was set as the Objects of Cultural Property (Tangible Heritage) by the Indonesian Institute for Preservation of Archaeological Heritage (BP3) based on Law No. 5 year 1992.

(Rose window / Catherine window)

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Javanese house: first insight

Omah and Pendopo are the two important parts in Javanese house. This two structure has duality meaning like the human being, Omah is an Individual part where outsider must not crossed,  Pendopo is a social part where people are gathering and socialize and Pringgitan is the in between space. Because of its important meaning, the house in Javanese culture cannot be said complete if there is no Pendopo in front of the Omah. According to Gunawan Tjahjono (1986), when the site has been chosen for construction, the dweller should plant two kinds of banana trees at the center of the site; pisang raja (Musa belle) and pisang mas (Musa acuminata). If the pisang raja grows first, the center of omah should be built on that position and the pisang mas should be moved to the front of pisang raja, to indicate the place for pendopo. If the reverse occurs, the center should be reversed for pendopo and the construction could be started at a distant point on one axis behind it.

Among the earliest scholar who interested and make a first step to examine the Javanese Architecture were Indies-Dutch architects, notably Henry Mclaine Pont (1923) and Thomas Karsten. In their thesis about Javanese Architecture, Pont and Karsten argued that the Javanese building tradition, which they believed, have had its peak in the Javanese Kraton (palace) pendopo building. In other side, another Indies-Dutch architect, Wolff Schoemaker (1930s) asserted, the Javanese kraton pendopo is essentially building or merely an embryonic form of architecture.

Mclaine Pont’s architectural studies tried to proofing that Javanese building system embodies with the logic of modern structural system. What happen in Pont’s architectural studies process is the framing of mathematical logic behind the structural principles of a range on the most representative buildings in Java Island, such as Masjid Agung Yogyakarta, Masjid Agung Cirebon, Bangsal Witana Solo, and Pendopo Agung kraton Yogyakarta.

Abidin Kusno (2000), an Indonesian architect, historian, and lecturer in University of British Columbia, proposed his theory that while the Javanese building tradition embodied the more abstract hierarchical socio-cultural system of early 20th century Javanese society, Pont’s study largely treated and rationalized this architectural tradition as a seemingly neutral and pragmatic building system and architectural style.

Stephen Cairn, a lecturer and architecture historian at the University of Melbourne, Australia, examine the debate about Javanese architecture between Mclaine Pont and Thomas Karsten with Wolff Schoemaker suggest that Pont’s and Karsten’s reading of pendopo is an ideal architectural expression, a unity on clarity of structure, public function, and an aesthetic form. In their reading, vernacular tradition was primarily conceived as aesthetic building vocabularies, regardless of their values, uses, and significances within the society who once produced it.

From the argument above, despite from their different point of view, Pont, Karsten and Schoemaker share a same opinion that pendopo has have an important meaning in Javanese architecture, both in kraton building compound and in ordinary housing. The argument from Pont, Karsten, and Schoemaker discontinued in this point and no further thesis about the tectonic value of the pendopo as an embryonic form of Javanese house including its basic proportion and module system. In 1985, Josef Prijotomo proposed his research about Petungan or measuring system in Javanese Architecture and continued by several articles using several old manuscripts that explained about Javanese house, including Kawruh Kalang (between 1882 to 1906) and Serat Centhini (18th Century manuscript).


  1. _________ (1985-1991), Serat Centhini (latin): 12 vols. Edited by Kamajaya (Karkono K. Partokusumo). Yogyakarta: Yayasan Centhini.
  2. Domenig, Gaudenz (1980), Tektonik Im Primitiven Dachbau, Zurich: ETH.
  3. Gonda, Jan (1952), Sanskrit in Indonesia, Ngapur: International Academy of Indian Culture.
  4. Kusno, Abidin (2000), behind the Postcolonial: Architecture, Urban Space, and Political Cultures in Indonesia, Routledge.
  5. Prijotomo, Josef (1984), Ideas and Forms of Javanese Architecture, Indonesia: Gajah Mada University Press.
  6. Tjahjono, Gunawan (1989), Cosmos, Center, and Duality in Javanse Architectural Tradition, PhD Dissertaton: University of California at Berkeley.

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