Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated


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Nearly every animal and insect, if well watched, may impart valuable information to help in one's plans; flowers and trees give warning of coming- events; there are omens in the stones one hurts the toes against; dreams are prophetic visions sent by the in- visible deities of this Fairy-Land, who stand between man and his beautiful surroundings of mysterious woods, teeming with jungle life, and majestic volcanoes always threatening death. Hajis are men, and women too, who, in obedience to the teachings of their faith, have made the pilgrimage to Mecca and henceforth will be regarded as specially holy.

Under the cloak of this sanctity a good many set up in the money lending busi- ness, fleecing without mercy the unthrifty who fall into their clutches. Nevertheless, every addition to their number meets with a rapturous reception; turbaned, they strut arrogantly along, the crowd pressing round, touching the hem of their flowing robes with the inbred politeness that distinguishes the natives from the highest born to the lowest of the low.

It can be best observed in the homage they pay to their nobility, to the descendants of old families who fill high positions under the Government, Dutch rule being based on the principle of controlling the 4 A True Fairy Land j natives by means of their own native chiefs, controlled in their turn by Dutch functionaries, a principle more and more disregarded, however, owing to circumstances it would take too long to discuss here.

In this system of official relations the Residents, or provincial gover- nors, with their Assistant Residents, figure as the older and the Regents, native chiefs of the first degree, as the younger brothers in the colonial household. The Regents are chosen among the worthiest in the land and act through their minor chiefs. The sunshade of a Regent has a gilt stick while the lesser native officials must content themselves with a black or white one.

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The circles in brighter colours, painted on the covers, show an almost endless variety of public authority and social station, which is very minutely laid down in many acts and edicts : permission to wear the golden songsong or payoong all gold and gilt, is a rare and coveted dis- tinction. Ceremonial behaviour coming natural to the natives, their conduct in all conceivable situations of life is guided by customs and habits which clearly show the enormous influence exercised on the early inhabitants of the island by the Hindus who came from India, 5 A Peep at Java centuries ago.

All these customs and habits arc covered by the one word hadat. There is a story of a Regent who always answered, his Resident, when his attention was drawn to necessary improve- ments: "Certainly, the kanjeng a title of honour is exactly right; it needs change.

In feel- ings and thoughts and ways of communicating them, orientals are quite different from western people, A native servant,, asked whether it rains or the sun shines, will as likely as not answer: I have not yet looked into the matter, though he knows that it is pouring, and yet he does not tell a deliberate fib; he only dislikes to cross, by a positive statement, the intentions of his superiors of his master who makes ready to walk to the club-house, or of his mistress 6 A True Fairy Land who wants to go.

Offensive treatment or injustice suffered rankles deep in their hearts and will flame up at the slightest provocation, seeking revenge. Though they do not mind a sound heating from their equals on equal terms, it is not advisable for a European to touch even the most submissive or for anyone to inflict an indignity upon him. From guard- post to guard-post the dreadful amok signal will be given and, shuddering at the sound, the timid will flee to their homes and barricade their doors.

He is seldom taken alive. Stalking him as they would a ferocious animal, volunteers, directly concerned, have already despatched him with their pikes and lances. The cause of this extra- ordinary state of affairs has to be sought in a system of colonial exploitation which made the natives raise products for the European market by forced labour and deliver them into the Government storehouses whence they were shipped to Holland and sold at an enormous profit.

This system, called after Count van den Bosch, on whose recommendation it was introduced to meet Holland's financial difficulties, has now been abandoned though the corutte, the calling out of the villagers in unpaid service for the mending of roads, etc. The word " coffee " has still an especially ominous sound In native ears, for It reminds them of the oppression connected with the growing of that commodity for Government purposes, JAV.

Though Java exports rice, particularly rice of superior quality, it imports a far greater quantity of the coarser kinds. They who know only what passes in this part of the world under the names of coffee, tea and cocoa, have a revelation in store for them when sampling those delicious beverages at the source, where their full aroma can be enjoyed. Then they will sympathise with a friend of mine who, served at his first breakfast in Europe, after a long residence in Java, with the regulation hotel slops, said to the waiter : "If this is what you call coffee, please bring me tea; and if it is what you call tea, please bring me coffee.

Opinions are much divided as to which deserves the palm for flavour and succulence: one prefers the pineapple, another the mango, a third the sawu manila, which has 10 A Land of Plenty been described as a large and very savoury medlar. Nothing is more luscious than the durian; enthusiasts pay incredible prices for the first and finest obtainable; it plays even, like the stnh quid, a part in native courtship : the bashful maiden, long and patiently wooed, can think of no better gift than a slice of durum to intimate to her lovesick swain that at last she consents to be his.

After mentioning the coco-nut which, with the tall, slender palm that produces it, serves the native in a thousand ways, the banana or pisanfa as it is called in Java, has to come in for more than a passing notice, From the dainty milk banana, not much bigger than the little finger, to the coarse species of an arm's length and girth, given, to horses to keep their coats glossy, there are said to be seven hundred, varieties, The banana in the land of its birth is also quite a different article from the poor, greenish yellow, spindle-shaped things in bunches, picked for export before they have had time to ripen and the peels of which make our streets so dangerous.

The banana being very wholesome and nourishing, native mothers stuff their infants with it to an alarming extent. It is the first fruit they give to their babies as mangos rank last according to their notions of nursery II 2 3 A Peep at Java hygiene. On this subject a word of advice to intending visitors to Java may be permitted, namely to beware of fruit with numerous pips, such as the jambu biji, and to leave the fibrous parts of all fruits alone. Oranges in their tropical form, for instance, should be sucked and not eaten.

And then we have the old saying, well worth remembering : " Fruit is gold in the morning, silver in the middle of the day and lead in the evening.

PEEPS - Definition and synonyms of peeps in the English dictionary

They do not depend on spring to bud, on autumn to shed their leaves, on winter to sleep, but keep wide awake the whole year round. Gardens present a continuous summer aspect and it seems a pity that in gardening so little is done by the European community, the climate and the soil doing on the other hand so much, making the country such a perpetual feast to the eye on such a large scale, that every effort of man to improve upon their work cannot fail to sink into insignificance.

The Europeans living in Java cultivate their flowers mostly in tubs and pots; they prefer to keep their belongings in a shape conformable to the exigencies of the general auction of their house- hold effects when returning home after having feathered their nests, or when ordered to another corner of the archipelago as frequently happens in the case of officials and army officers.

Horticulture cannot thrive in such conditions and as to the natives, they are content with letting bountiful Nature provide if coquettish Isa wants fragrant melali to adorn her hair, or Kario the n A Land of Plenty seeds of the white-flowered kachuboong to prepare soothing salves, supposing he has no more sinister object in view. Sometimes there is a rage for special kinds of plants, for ferns or for crotons, the more curious the speckling the finer.

The creature that forces itself most persistently upon the attention of the visitor to Java, after he has admired the jaded, wretched ponies of the public vehicles and the mean-looking, stiff-eared curs infesting the streets, will be, at night, the horrid mosquito. Let snakes, crocodiles and tigers do their worst, the greatest enemy to human life is the Anopheles clavigcr species of this insect family.

It spreads the germs of malarial fever and all the different species, without exception, are enemies to human peace of mind, making life a burden by their insolent buzzing as they spy out their chance to drink their fill of human blood. Fortunately, these vexatious intruders have their enemies too. Sitting at the tea-table one may hear a sudden smack near the sugar-pot and see a small reptile run off, leaving some- thing smaller wriggling behind.

It is a chichak, fallen down from the ceiling in its curiosity or uncontrollable desire for sweets, which has dropped its tail in its hurry to escape; the sacrifice does not matter much for the lost member will grow again. A gecco in the house spells good luck and the special kind of good luck it will bring, is foreshadowed by the number of times it repeats its own name.

Among 13 A Peep at Java insects, so numerous and in so great variety that, whenever a hole or a crevice opens, one of the proper size will be sure to come forward and inhabit it, the white ant enjoys an especially bad reputation for its destructiveness. Many are the means devised to keep it away from bookcases, wardrobes, provision rooms, etc. On several occasions its healthy appetite has even done away with large quanti- ties of bullion, not to speak of banknotes in heaps that, at least, was the excuse of those in charge and responsible for the shortages.

The jungle teems with wild animals and hunting is a pastime much indulged in. There are no elephants in Java, as in Sumatra, but the rhinoceros roams in herds. If one of them is, for some reason or other, expelled by its mates, it becomes much more ferocious by forced seclusion and, like an elephant in the same circumstances, requires a good deal of nerve to deal with.

Wild cattle are hardly less dangerous but the shooting of deer and birds, either for the table or for their plumage, entails less excitement. Wild pigs are generally killed with the gun, nobody caring for pig- sticking, and old boars can be very nasty as I have strong cause to remember, for my left leg was on one occasion ripped up by the fangs of one that objected to my presence dealing death to his tribe.

Panthers and tigers are getting comparatively scarce, and one seldom hears now that the post is delayed because they A Land of Plenty made a meal off the horses and the conductor of the mail-car. Yet, driven from their lairs in the woods by drought or want of food, they still prepare disagreeable surprises to the inhabitants of districts remote from the main roads.

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These people regard the tiger with super- stitious fear and reverence, and only can make up their minds to put a stop to his depredations after great provocation. The method of capture usually resorted to is that of traps or falls.

If, however, a man-eater has devoured the wife or son or daughter of a native he may consider it a purely personal affair and track the enemy to his den, challenging him to single combat, armed with nothing but kris and lance, and often come out of the struggle victorious too. After killing a tiger, the successful huntsman has to take care that the natives do not spoil the skin by pulling out the beast's moustache and hair from other places, which, like the vertebra of the neck, are supposed to possess medicinal qualities. The claws will also be appropriated by the native if he gets a chance, as he believes that by wearing them he will become invulnerable.

However savage the lord of the woods may be, the crocodile is responsible for many more sudden disappearances, a result due to the habitual washings and consequent loiterings on the banks of rivers and creeks without which the people of Java are unable to feel happy. One of these monsters, shot two days after it had seized and pulled into the water the mother of eight children who stood helplessly looking on, was found to contain the head of that woman and part of her body, the legs and arms of A Peep at Java another human being, two large bones of a horse, twenty smaller bones of various animals and fifteen stones of the size of a chicken's egg.

Now everything goes quicker and, as we cleave an emerald sea, studded with innumerable wooded islets, glittering under a sapphire sky, soon, over a hazy bank of clouds, the blue mountains of the interior come into view. Then, lower on the horizon, appears a white line of surf, the waves breaking on the beach. The aspect of Tanjoong Priok, the harbour of Batavia, like that of Samarang and Surabaya, entered from the seaside, is not at all suggestive of the wondrous beauty lying behind.


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A train, waiting at the station, will convey the newly arrived passengers to the upper town, where they have a choice of good hotels. Fine houses in spacious gardens, large squares connected by wide, straight roads, fully explain that name. The largest open space is the King's Plain, surrounded on its four sides by the stately mansions of high officials and people of importance in finance and trade, with the railway station to the east, the Museum to the west, the Residency to the south and the palace of the Governor-General to the north.

To see the sights and enjoy the early morning, which is the best part of the day, one should rise with the sun and not neglect to pay a visit to the old town. It is much more interesting than the new one, notwith- standing its squalor. Whichever way we go and at whatever time, bathing will be in full swing, crowds of men, women and children splashing in the water with the utmost relish and decency; at dawn and just before sunset the bathers are most numerous but the refreshing element is never wholly deserted.

Following the Gunoong Sahari Canal to return by Molenvliet, we pass a good many coco plantations where the wealthy citizens once had their country-houses, of which little more is left than here and there a tottering pavilion, the former orchards being encroached upon by strangely shaped Chinese tombs. In the Jacatra Road is a gruesome monument to the memory of a certain Pieter Erberfeld, the ringleader of a conspiracy, two centuries ago, to murder all Christians.

A native girl discovered the plot to a Dutch officer with whom she had fallen in love. This officer informed the authorities, and Pieter Erberfeld was arrested with his confederates and condemned to death. In six places his flesh was torn from his body with red-hot pincers, his right hand and his head were chopped off, his remains quartered and the four parts exhibited where the warning they conveyed seemed most needful.

His house, which stood on this spot, was razed, with the exception of a wall whereon his head was spiked down, and his skull can still be seen in that position, preserved by thick layers of whitewash periodically applied by the Department of Public Works. Underneath is written : cc In accursed memory of the punished traitor to his country Pieter Erberfeld.

No one will be allowed to build 18 The Queen of the East here in wood, brick or stone, or to plant here now or eternally. Batavia, April 14, ? The next Sunday a special service to thank God for his mercy in frustrating their design was held in the city church, which dates from and still exists, near by, with its fine pulpit, escutcheons and antique furniture. The big cannon, a few paces from the Pinang Gate, is highly venerated by the native women, and so also is the grave of a Muhammadan saint from Hadramaut, at Luar Batang near the Fish Market.

Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated
Peeps at Many Lands: Java Illustrated

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