Museum is a museum. What a dull day it would be in Palembang to spend in a museum. Those are my initial thoughts of how our first day would turn out to be.
It made a lot of sense to visit Museum Balaputra Dewa of Palembang when the original traditional house of Palembang known as “rumah limas” as printed on IDR10,000.00 note is located at Muzium Balaputra Dewa. But, it was not all that we got to enjoy at Museum Balaputra Dewa.
Celebrated as celebrities, the curator of the museum greeted us with a traditional Malay dance of Palembang, tari tanggai. Tari tanggai is danced by a group of bare-shouldered female dancers performing slow movements based on the poses used in Buddhist and Saivite meditation. The exquisite costumes comprise of a dodot (sarong) and salendang mantri (long scarf across one shoulder) made of the songket brocade and elaborated traditional accessories such as necklace, bracelet, anklet and head gears. The word ‘tanggai’ derives from the long cone-shaped brass fingernails worn by the dancers on their four fingers.
At the end of the dance, the dancers present golden containers of betel leaf to the guests. To show appreciation, you are expected to chew the betel leaf.
As a symbolic to the dance held dearly by all Palembang people, a mural dedicated to the Tari Tanggai decorates the entrance hall.
There are few sections in Museum Balaputra Dewa Palembang. However, we were first brought to the Melaka museum to look at the close relationship between Palembang and Melaka. It all started with the fleeing Palembang prince who founded Melaka due to Majapahit invasion. The Palembang prince is referred to in our history book as Parameswara.
It is hard to believe but Palembang is the oldest city in Indonesia. A powerful Malay kingdom whose realm includes many areas in the present Southeast Asia, including parts of Malaysia. By exploring the museum further, it occurred to me that we have more than just common traits. We shared the same root.
For this very reason, Museum Balaputra Dewa collaborated with the Islamic Museum of Melaka to exhibit and strengthen the ties that have been long existed. To learn more about the connection between Melaka and Palembang, do visit the Melaka Gallery of Museum Balaputra Dewa, Palembang.
It would not narrate each exhibit of Museum Balaputra Dewa, but here are the 10 fun facts I learned from there.
#1 Srivijaya is the largest maritime kingdom in the archipelago from 7th century AD to 13th century AD. Its territory includes Sumatera, Malay Peninsula, western Java and western Kalimantan. The influence of Srivijaya can be seen in the inscriptions found around South Sumatera as well as in the Malay Peninsula. Some important inscriptions that can be found in Museum Balaputra Dewa are Kedukan Bukit Inscription, Talang Tuo Inscription, Telaga Batu Inscription, Kota Kapur Inscription, Boom Baru Inscription, Bungkuk Inscription.
#2 The first recorded human settlement in Sumatera dated from the end of Ice Age, around 11,000 years ago.
#3 It was only at the end of the 16th century that the Kingdom of Palembang was established with the royal palace located at Kuto Gawang under the leadership of Ki Gede Ing Suro. At the initial stage, Palembang was still under the authority of the Islamic Mataram Kingdom.
#4 After a feud between Palembang under the leadership of Prince Sido Rejek and VOC, a Dutch company for the monopoly of the spice trading, Ki Mas Endi took to the throne of Palembang palace and revoked submission to the sovereignty of Mataram. Hence, Prince Ario Kesuma as Ki Mas Endi was later known, established the Sultanate of Palembang Darussalam.
#5 In 1821, the Netherlands deployed hundreds of warships and 5000 troops to defeat the Palembang Sultanate. Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II was arrested and exiled to Ternate. In 1823, the Palembang Sultanate met its sad end.
The iconic traditional house that appeared on Rp10,000.00 note.
You would have to take off your shoes to enter the traditional house. Next to the reception counter, there was an old piano. There was a creative calligraphy on the wall. The girl wearing the green kebaya approached me and told, “everything in the house was from the original house”.
Everything in the house were antique.
At the centre of the house, there was a dais where every guest could pretend to be newly-weds. Interestingly at the left side of the dais, a huge pole balance was placed. The balance was to weight the gifts between the groom and the bride. They were supposed to give gifts of equal weight. The practice of the bridal balance is no longer practiced by the locals.
Museum Balaputra Dewa:
No. 288 KM 5.5, Alang Alang Lebar, Sukaramai, Srijaya, Kota Palembang, Sumatera Selatan, 30139, Indonesia.