La Liberté Giyanti

[blockquote author=””]Drawing Pen, Acrylic on Canvas | 260 x 325 cm[/blockquote]

The painting is a juxtaposition of the revolutionary spirit that surged in France and spread to other parts of the world, including the island of Java. Similar to the power struggle between the monarchy and the bourgeois in France, the struggle for the sole power over the Sultanate of Mataram on Java eventually brought about a breakage: in France Charles X was toppled, while the struggle on Java resulted in two separate entities namely Yogjakarta and Surakarta.

The painter Eugene Delacroix was deeply moved by the revolution in his country, and his emotion deepened with literature accentuating the drama even further. Infused with such emotion Delacroix created his famous painting La Liberté guidant le people, with Marianne, as the French symbol held the tricolor flag high above her head as a sign that the country was ruled by freedom. The revolution toppled Charles X off the monarchy.

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In the same century, albeit at a slightly different point in time, on Java in another faraway part of the world, the spirit of revolt was also holding sway. Babad Giyanti chronicled an almost similar struggle, infusing the ballad composed by Yasadiputra. Here it was the struggle over the sole ruling power, which ultimately resulted in two entities, namely Yogyakarta and Surakarta with separate rulers.

Inspired by the visual (Delacroix’ painting) and the musical (Yasadipura’s ballad) and the lyrical (Babad Giyanti), Eddy Susanto’s created his painting La Liberté Giyanti as a contemporary work in which Delacroix’ figures in the painting are shaped by Javanese script telling the Javanese story.

Carla Bianpoen, 2018

Explanation about this work:

– Question : “Similar to the power struggle between the monarchy and the bourgeois in France, the struggle for the sole power over the Sultanate of Mataram on Java eventually brought about a breakage: in France Charles X was toppled, while the struggle on Java resulted in two separate entities namely Yogjakarta and Surakarta. »

Before the Giyanti Treaty, there was an initial event called Geger Pacinan (1740-1743). In this event, the main character who played an important role was Sunan Kuning. In Geger Pacinan, the Chinese-Javanese Felowship was fighting against VOC. Sunan Kuning along with R.M. Raden Mas Said fought fiercely to the VOC in the Mataram’s territory ruled by Pakubowono II (in Kartasura Palace). This was the biggest rebellion faced by VOC during its rule in Indonesia, especially Java. Previously Pakubuwono II supported the Chinese-Javanese resistance to the VOC. He requested the VOC’s forgiveness after the Javanese-Chinese rebells lost the war

During Geger Pacitan, the Javanese-Chinese rebels named Sunan Kuning as the king of Mataram on April 6, 1742 in Pati District, Central Java. He was also considered a “King of Javanese and Chinese”. The appointment of Sunan Kuning was a symbol of the resistance of the people of Mataram who are betrayed by Pakubuwono II,

In the later stage, the King Pakubuwono II conspired with the VOC; he gave away the coastal area of Java to VOC. This policy created many rebellions toward the King and resulting to wars in Mataram (1742 – 1758). It was indeed VOC played the strategy dividing powers for their own benefits leading to division of Mataram into 2 Kingdoms.

I would like to give emphasis on the power struggle of Javanese-Chinese toward the injustice power dominated by the conspiracy of VOC and Pakubuwono II. This struggle is also in the prelude of the work by Yasadipura in Babad Giyanti [Crocicle of Giyanti, attached a reference].

– Question: About the dates, The Trois glorieuses (3 days of the riots in France) took place in 1830 and the Gyanti treaty was signed in 1755. So there is a difference of 75 years between the two events that did not happen in the same century. However, you didn’t chose to allude to an event that was happening in 1830 in Java, i.e, the Java War, even despite the fact that – if I am correct – it was a struggle of the aristocracy and the people together against the oppressors (the dutch). Bearing this in mind, can we say that you got more inspired by the two artworks by Delacroix and Yasadiputra (the painting and the writing) than by the events themselves?

Work of Delacroix to my understanding is also considered a symbol of France Revolution. The barefoot and bare-breasted woman as the main figure of Delacroix is wearing a hat. That hat symbolizes liberty during the first France Revolution, of 1789.

Geger Pacinan followed by wars in Java against injustice meanwhile happened in 1740 – 1758 leading to the Giyanti Treaty. These events (not only the Treaty) were written in Babad Giyanti, supposedly written by Yasadipura I (1729 – 1803). Five out of six series of Babad Giyanti were assembled (collected) by J.F.C. Gericke when he became director of Het Javaansch Institut in 1832.

Thus, I was inspired by the works of Delacroix and Yasadipura as well as by the events of the 18th century both in France and in Java.

I do understand that implications of the both events are different, but the spirit of fighting the injustice powers were part of both works.

– Last question : Can you give me more information about Yasadiputra and Babad Giyanti ? Did Yasadiputra write Babad Giyanti or did he «only » arranged it musically? In what sense is it an important milestone for indonesian art and culture? La liberté guidant le peuple has become a symbol of the french republic. Can we say something similar for Babad Giyanti?

There are still some debates wheter Yasadiputra wrote the whole part Babad Giyanti consisting of six big books in the form of poetries. Later (1937 – 1939), Babad Giyanti was published by Balai Pustaka into 21 small books. The publications stated Yasadiputra as the writer. According to Prof. Dr. M.C. Ricklefs, Babad Giyanti was the most extraordinary book about the history of Java [Prof. Dr. M. C. Ricklefs, FAHA in Babad Giyanti: Sources of History and Great Works Javanese Literature, 12 Jumantara Vol 5 No. 2 of 2014]. Prelude of Babad Giyanti describes the resistance of the people of Mataram (led by Sunan Kuning) who were betrayed by Pakubuwono II through conspiration with VOC. Yet, the implications in the end of these power struggles were different. My aim is partly to remind people not to forget about their own hystory and to learn from it.

I here also attach a reference from a book on Brief Hystory of Indonesia pp.108 – 119 that links the Java Wars in mid of 18th century leading to Giyanti Treaty, its contribution toward bankruptcy of VOC, France Revolution, the change of power (from VOC) and the start of colonialisation of Indonesia.